Last updated on 11 December 2023

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Important Note Before Reading

As you explore the case studies and narratives shared on this blog, I would like to offer some important considerations:

Illustrative Purpose: The stories and experiences shared here are intended to illustrate the coaching journey. They are narratives that reflect common themes and outcomes in coaching, designed to provide you with insights into how the coaching might unfold.

Unique Experiences: It's crucial to remember that each individual's journey in therapy and coaching is unique. The stories presented here are not one-size-fits-all examples but rather serve to highlight the potential paths and breakthroughs that coaching and therapy can facilitate.

Not a Substitute for Professional Advice: These narratives are not intended to diagnose, treat, or provide specific guidance for personal health issues. They are educational and illustrative tools meant to offer a broader understanding of the process.

Client Confidentiality: All stories shared here are with the consent of the individuals involved, and details have been altered to protect their privacy.

Encouraging Professional Support: If you find resonance with the stories or face similar challenges, I encourage you to seek professional support. Therapy and coaching are personal journeys, and a qualified therapist or coach can provide you with tailored guidance suited to your individual needs. Feel free to reach out for personalised support.

Feedback and Questions Welcome: Your thoughts, feedback, and questions about the content shared here are always welcome. They enrich our collective understanding and provide valuable perspectives that benefit all readers.

Remember, these narratives are here to inform, inspire, and encourage reflection. They are stepping stones to understanding the profound journey of personal growth that therapy and coaching can offer.

In a recent online session, a client, whom we will refer to as Clara, came to me with a personal struggle: a persistent tightness in her chest, intertwined with deeper emotional layers that she couldn't quite unravel. This case study explores Clara's journey through these complex feelings, highlighting the transformative potential of embodiment coaching. Clara has kindly given her consent for her story to be shared.

Clara seemed to have a sense of unease in her voice, sharing her struggle with a persistent tightness in her chest that had been a source of discomfort for a considerable time. „It’s bringing me down, and just the thought of it feels constricting,” she shared. Keen to explore this further, I asked Clara to describe where she felt this tightness and the emotions that accompanied it, mirroring her hand movements just below my own throat. With curiosity, we traced the evolution of these sensations.

Clara described feeling constricted whenever she tried to ignore this sensation. As she gently pressed on the constricted area, I asked if any specific images or sensations surfaced. She mentioned the number ‘three’, a detail that puzzled us both, so we simply acknowledged it and continued our exploration.

A Shift in Sensation

She noticed the sensation subtly shifting, moving up and sidewards towards her shoulders. Clara’s blend of anxiety and curiosity grew as we maintained our focus on this feeling.

In passing, she mentioned having had a significant health scare in the chest several years ago. The sensation then seemed to focus on her shoulders. After a brief moment of reflection, Clara experienced a deep emotional revelation, releasing a surge of sadness. Once she regained her composure, she was eager to share her realisation with me, a revelation her body seemed to have known all along.

Connecting Past and Present

Clara recounted a challenging period in her life, marked by a difficult professional environment that she knew wasn’t beneficial for her yet felt compelled to endure. It was during this time that she first felt this physical tightness, later attributed to stress-related issues at work. A dismissive medical professional had criticised her for not addressing the issue sooner, suggesting it had been developing for at least three years, coinciding with her entry into the stressful work environment.

For years, Clara carried the burden of self-criticism for staying in that harmful work environment and blamed herself for the stress-related issues. However, her body seemed to understand that the blame was misplaced. Despite this, she continually suppressed feelings of self-critique, embarrassment, and melancholy, intensifying her inner turmoil.

This moment marked a significant shift. „My body seemed determined to help me resolve this, refusing to endure the stress and self-criticism any longer. I can breathe more easily now, and it feels freeing,“ she expressed. Clara felt a renewed sense of tranquillity and peace, grateful for her newfound understanding and commitment to care for herself more effectively.

This breakthrough was achieved by providing her system with a space of compassion and recognition and letting physical sensations emerge through a kind and curious focus of attention. The body’s intuitive nature can be an invaluable compass in understanding experiences and crafting solutions.

Embodiment: The Mind-Body Connection in Therapy and Coaching

This approach of referring to the integration and acknowledgment of bodily experiences as fundamental components of emotional processing and self-awareness is called embodiment1. It recognises that our physical sensations, postures, and movements are not just reactions to our psychological states but are deeply intertwined with them. They can be gateways to understanding deeper emotional truths and unresolved issues.

Embodiment approaches in therapy and coaching often involve actively engaging with bodily sensations and allowing them to express themselves. This can include noticing changes in breathing, posture, muscle tension, or movement patterns. In Clara’s case, as she paid attention to the sensation in her chest, it became a pathway to emotional release and deeper understanding. It was as if her body was holding onto a story that needed to be told, a story that was intricately linked to her emotional wellbeing. These associations between a current experience and a previous experience form what are called networks of experience. They can include inner dialogues, judgements, or memories in the form of inner movies, depending on how the organism has stored the information.

Embodiment Coaching as a Path to Emotional Wellbeing

The shift from a constricted chest sensation to a feeling of release and clarity exemplifies how the body can hold and eventually help process emotionally significant experiences. This approach thereby aligns with the principles of psychosomatic medicine, which emphasises the interconnectedness of mind, body, and emotions2. By acknowledging and working with these connections, embodiment therapy and coaching can lead to profound transitions and a more integrated sense of self.

If you’re facing similar challenges and feel like you’re not reaching your full potential, embodiment coaching could be the solution you need. With my help, you can gain a better understanding of yourself and your motivations, learn to overcome your fears and doubts, and achieve your full potential. Don’t let fears and doubts hold you back from living the life you want. Take the first step towards your transformation today and book an embodiment coaching session with me.

References

1. Körner, A., Topolinski, S., & Strack, F. (2015). Routes to embodiment. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 940. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00940

2. Fava, G. A., Cosci, F., & Sonino, N. (2017). Current psychosomatic practice. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 86(1), 13-30. https://doi.org/10.1159/000448856

Hokusai, K. (1831). The Great Wave off Kanagawa [Painting]. Retrieved from https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_gro%C3%9Fe_Welle_vor_Kanagawa#/media/Datei:Katsushika_Hokusai_-_Thirty-Six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji-_The_Great_Wave_Off_the_Coast_of_Kanagawa_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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About the Author Benedikt Schmidt

My name is Benedikt Schmidt and I'm a psychologist and coach who specialises in helping people find the clarity, motivation, and inspiration they need to create a life they love. Whether you're feeling stuck or looking to connect more deeply with your body and emotions, I'm here to help.

With Follow The River, I share the 13+ years of experience of my own personal development, as well as the knowledge that stems from working with clients, psychological training and my research work as a positive psychologist for the European leader of positive psychology, Professor Ilona Boniwell.

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My approach is designed to save you time and energy by helping you identify the core of what is holding you back. Let's embark on the journey together to learn what it takes to create a life that feels right for you.

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