Breaking Down Barriers
I spend my days being with people in their emotional world. I help them process and express how they are feeling, sit with their own emotions, and at times, tolerate the uncomfortableness that emotions can cause for us all.
I help make sense of what they’re feeling and help them see how their feelings and emotions drive their thoughts and actions. I’m able to do this for two reasons. One, they allow me to, which is an amazing privilege. And two, because I provide a safe space. I’m not going to tell them they’re wrong for how they’re feeling. I don’t carry judgement for what they feel. I am just listening.
Because my relationship with them is somewhat one-sided, I use my own emotions to help guide my time with my clients. I express how I’m feeling about them in an empathetic way, but that is where it stops. I don’t carry along a history of injuries from my relationship with them, making our interaction a complex dynamic of debate, blame, and defensiveness. Instead, they feel seen, heard, and validated in their own experience. And they don’t need to care for my emotions while trying to figure out their own. It truly is an open space for a client to be the center of attention to muddle through their own feelings with someone more or less holding their hand.
As a parent, you have a more difficult job than me in comforting your teen. You have the history of the relationship that can get in the way, a pattern of interaction that ensues during stressful moments, and your own feelings to maneuver through. However, you comforting your teen can be much more powerful than me comforting them.
Over the next few posts in the Comforting Your Teen Series, I’m going to talk about different ways you can connect with your teen and help create a safe space for them to be heard.