Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The true message

I'm reading a book at the moment called Therapeutic Communication: Knowing What to Say When by Paul Wachtel who talks about the main message that a therapist/practitioner conveys to a client. He believes that this message is always accompanied by a meta–message, or what I like to call, the true message. This meta-message communicates the true feelings and attitudes of the practitioner towards the client and it is this meta–message that has the greatest potential for therapeutic transformation or failure according to Wachtel.

People pick up on what we say, and in particular what we don't say, by our facial expressions, posture, gestures, dress and so on, and this is true in all walks of life. We have different ways of 'knowing' and 'receiving' information. We also pick up on what people say, and what they really mean, by our intuition. We usually feel this knowing as a bodily sensation or sensations if we are tuned in and we can all tune into our intuition and bodies with practice. Our body never lies.

Some might argue it is about perception, it is how we perceive things that other people say that determines how we interpret their message and while this is true to a certain extent, we know what we know. I believe it is crucially important to learn how to trust our knowing and intuition which is the same as trusting our self. If we are used to being criticised, questioned and having our feelings minimised we won't have very much self trust, so it is a very important issue to tap on. You can find a tapping script on self trust here.

Wachtel, Paul, L. (2011). Therapeutic Communication: Knowing What to Say When, Guildford Publications, New York.


sharmishtha said...

i truly admire those who say the right thing at the right time most of times, forget about always.

i usually keep my mouth shut if i am at loss of proper words.

hope you are having fabulous time. have a marvelous weekend ahead.

Noreen Barron, MA said...

Have a great weekend too Trisha xx

sharmishtha said...

Shubho Nabobarsho! May God bless you with a fantastic year and splendid years in toe.

May all your dreams, hopes, desires come true.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog, Noreen. Thanks for all you do.

I wanted to share the link to this PDF as I found it helpful.


I like that one of the prisoners (on page 12) refers to the hyper-energy stuck in his chest as "caught," as in a caught (trapped) feeling or caught (trapped) sensation.

I wish I had thought of the word "caught" to describe the trapped energy, as sometimes just saying "caught" to myself, while I think of my chest, helps to loosen the constriction in my thoracic area.

Unfortunately, thus far, the relief is simply temporary (like 5 minutes thru 5 hours at a time), but better than nothing. :(

Noreen Barron, MA said...

May God bless you too Trisha, now and always xxx

Noreen Barron, MA said...

Thank you for sharing that link, I'm a huge fan of Peter Levine and SE :-)

When did you start having that caught sensation in your chest? Was anything going on then or prior to this developing, maybe tap on that and see what happens? How does feeling caught/trapped make you feel?

Jeff said...


Hi Noreen,

I am the person who left the comment with the link above.

Yes, the pain started after a co-worker dared me to take caffeine pills way back in 1994 (and the reaction I had to doing this).

We worked together while in college, at a store his mom owned (and still owns to this day).

One night he pulled out a box of caffeine pills and said something like "Here, hold your hand out, take these," placing three Vivarin-brand caffeine pills in the palm of my hand.

I'm pretty sure they were caffeine pills and not something else he was trying to trick me into taking. I say this because Vivarin pills have a "V" engraved in them, and I think I remember seeing the V.

Just typing this right now, I can feel a twitching starting in the right side of my body.

Anyway, I initially declined to take any pills, but he kept egging me on, so I eventually gave in and took them. I only took 3, which is the equivalent of about 6 cups of coffee.

This was at 8pm and our shift ended at 11pm. During those 3 hours I felt a little jumpy, but nothing too bad.

However, when I went home to bed, I started panicking. My heart was racing very fast, and I started to sweat profusely.

I remember thinking "This is it, I'm going to die" and this went on for appx. 12 hours straight, until my mom rushed me to the ER at Noon the next day.

When the nurse checked me in, I had a 200+ heart rate. And there's a good chance my heart had been beating that high for the entire 12 hours.

I know I went into "freeze" mode around midnight or shortly after. There was nothing I could run from, since the threat was happening INSIDE my body and not outside of my body.

I thought I had overdosed from caffeine and was terrified I was only seconds away from sure death.

I think if the threat were outside my body, I would have had a better chance of resolving the symptoms, while all this was occurring. In such an instance, I might be able to "get away" from the source of the fear.

But you can't escape yourself, so that seemed to limit my options and make resolution -- while in the midst of panicking -- impossible.

After I got home from the hospital, I was exhausted but didn't notice any pain in my chest.

The pain/constriction in my chest started a week or two later.

And I felt really anxious and hyper-vigilant.

I went to therapist to therapist, all trying to use CBT, which didn't help.

I didn't finish college the way I had hoped, due to symptoms being too strong.

Working was and is very, very difficult.

My social engagement system was fried and remains fried.

Reading the works of Stephen Porges, Peter Levine, Babette Rothchild, etc. has helped me to understand what happened, but my body seems resistant to any sort of method intended to alleviate suffering.

Almost 18 years later, my nervous system remains highly charged, and doing basic things is very difficult.

I developed a fear of the dentist, and didn't go for 8 years. And then when I did go, I had to have tons of work done and even lost a tooth that was essential for chewing food.

Jeff said...


I still have to force myself to go food shopping. And when I check out I always use the self-checkouts, rather than go thru the regular checkout line, where you have to have human interaction.

I tend to avoid people at all costs. I know it's the symptoms I'm running from. I don't know why I can't get the stuck feelings to complete -- it does feel like there is an energy in my chest which is trying to orchestrate a climax, but I keep recoiling, and thus am preventing resolution to occur.

I also get tremors in my head and hands, pretty much 24/7. So maybe there is something neurological going on.

I am afraid of talking on the phone, so I never am able to schedule an appointment to go to the doctor. And am afraid of what might be discovered.

When I go to the store, I often feel stuck in the store. Sometimes I will end up being in a store for hours, just because approaching the checkout area generates a great fear.

About a week ago, I think I had a pretty large discharge happen via my left leg. I was just standing in the bathroom, texting on my phone, when a big "wwroommp!" ripped thru my left leg.

It was like the power of two moving men quickly pushing a huge piano across a wooden floor.

But I can never expect or predict when these moments are going to happen. They are few and far between.

I might feel halfway decent for an hour or two, but then the symptoms come back 100%.

This seems strange to me, since after a discharge you wouldn't think the symptoms could technically get back to 100% strength.

For years, I supported myself by selling all my possessions on eBay. I had a lot of rare books and CDs. But I eventually ran out of stuff to sell.

I work part-time now, but even that is difficult. I told my story to a disability judge, but was denied.

I sometimes get angry, as I actually paid quite a bit into social security when I was working full-time.

I worked for two different Fortune 500 companies before I was 25, for a total of about 6 years.

But I got laid off 10 years ago and have been floundering ever since.

And when I was working full-time, it's a miracle I didn't get fired, because I would rarely answer my phone, and took 3-hour lunches almost daily, just to escape the environment.

Talk about a mess?! I somehow sometimes can cultivate a moderately strong sense of humor, which is really the only thing keeping me alive, I'm guessing.

There should be an end-date to this, I think. The 24/7 chest pain/constriction, jerky breathing and general avoidance just seems like constant torture, with no end in sight.

I am not really into the tapping, I think mostly because I have a condition (I can't remember the medical term for it) which causes my chest to be sunken-in.

And my sunken-in chest makes that whole area feel weird and sensitive. I don't like to make contact with that area of myself.

In fact, I pretty much avoid all physical contact with myself, which is probably why I haven't recovered!

I really just want to feel like myself again and work full-time and do the things it seems others are doing.

Oh brother. If you have any comments you think might help, please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading and again for such a wonderful blog. :)


Noreen Barron, MA said...

Hi Jeff, Have you heard of the technique 'telling the story' in EFT? That's what you have just done with me. When you feel things like "Just typing this right now, I can feel a twitching starting in the right side of my body" you can start tapping gently on parts of your body that feel safe, or you can hold them or you can imagine tapping them, or even imagine a colour soothing the area.

The panic set in when you thought "This is it, I'm going to die" which may or may not have been the first time you felt this way. You are on high alert since so calming this fear and lack of feeling safe is really important. When we have a panic attack, the fear alone of having another one can bring on another one. There are also great exercises called TRE from David Berceli, what I particularly like about these exercises is the body does the processing/feeling for us, it helps us get out of our heads where we can analyse why we feel the way we do and if we are working on our own, this is particularly important. You can find out more at http://traumaprevention.com/

The freeze/tonic immobility response has often been called fright with no chance of escape, whether we perceive there is no escape or there is none doesn't matter, it is how we feel inside that matters and this is how you felt. We do want to run away or not associate with the pain/fear, dissociation has been called 'the escape when there is no escape' and this can be mild or more severe. Not wanting to be in our bodies where we feel the fear is a form of escape because the pain feels too unbearable. This is another important thing to tap on, how did it make you feel when you couldn't escape? Helpless, powerless, weak ...? A book that I really recommend is Peter Levine's 'In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness' in it he talks about pendulation which is essentially rocking back and forth between entering immobility/freeze (dread, fear etc) and exiting immobility (rage etc), doing this voluntarily and safely little by little helps us build a container for feelings that feel overwhelming so they don't continue to overpower us or retraumatise us. Thanks for liking my blog :-)