And how does that make you feel?
“And how does that make you feel?” is one of those clichés that are often associated with psychological therapy. The reason for this is that emotions and how they're handled (emotional regulation) is so often an underlying cause for many people’s struggles. For this reason we explore feelings in one capacity or another. I've found that people can struggle with feelings and emotional regulation in a combination of ways.
Feeling too much
Some seek therapy because they are affected by periodic or chronic overwhelming episodes of feelings (e.g., anxiety, anger, depression). In some situations these people become so strongly flooded with emotions that they lose their capacity to act logically or think in that moment of what their behaviors and actions might mean in the future. These people are at risk of hurting both themselves and those around them. If this sounds like you then our work together might include addressing the emotions before you lose control.
Little conscious access to feelings
Some people who come to mental health therapy say they honestly don’t know what they feel. This may leave them a sense of being numb. These people often struggle with knowing what they want and may have difficulties in their relationships. If any of this sounds a little like you, then part of our work together might be on discovering ways to contact that part of you that you may be unaware of.
Conflicting feelings (and desires)
Some people come to therapy because they feel stuck between conflicting desires. They may feel bad about themselves about their weight, but feel better when they eat. They may feel bad that they can’t control their drinking, but feel angry if they can’t do what they want to do. Your internal conflict may be different than this, but if you are aware of wanting to change something, but not being able to do it, then this might apply to you. If so, then our work together might have a component of looking at these two pulls and finding which is stronger, while in some way also supporting the weaker desire.
Possess a theory or belief that feelings have no value
I've met a person or two in this valley who take the positions something like “emotions are a relic of the reptilian brain and in such are an antiquated processing mechanism in comparison to the abilities of pure logic and reason from the executive functions of the cerebral cortex.” If this sounds like you, then all I can say is let's explore that theory together (and I also really look forward to meeting you).
Feelings in individual therapy and couples therapy
I have come to realize that feelings are very important. When channeled effectively, they can clarify what we want and what we don’t want, help us to be seen and understood by our partner, and help us all achieve our true desires. For you, the exploration of emotions may be a prime focus or an ancillary topic. We won’t really know for sure until we start. But I have found that those who are willing to explore them openly in therapy tend to get the most out of this experience.