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  • Fe Robinson

Building Feelings Tolerance in Psychotherapy

“Psychotherapy is about helping clients to tolerate what they are feeling, not about having them tell stories” Bessel Van De Kolk

Whether I’m providing psychotherapy locally in Darlington, or working with online clients, there is a common theme that runs through our work. Psychotherapy is not all about people simply telling the story of their week, their experience, their life. While story telling can be helpful for clients to weave a coherent narrative and for sense-making, and it is validating to be heard and seen as you speak your truth, in itself story-telling is seldom enough.

Van de Kolk points at what really is the therapeutic task. Clients come to see me because they are not able to tolerate what they are feeling, thinking and experiencing. They need their experience to be different. My job is to help them build up their capacity to fully feel their feelings, so that they can inhabit them, and let them pass through.

When you are frightened to feel, it can seem that whatever it is you are afraid of is bigger than you, and that it may swamp you. You may think that if you start feeling the discomfort will never end and you will be lost in tears, or depression. Thankfully, none of this is the case. The work emotion reminds us that we are talking about ‘energy-in-motion.’ Feelings pass, they build, peak, and drain away. Our emotional experience is continually changing.

Building the capacity to observe and be with ourselves as we move through the intensity of our emotional highs and lows is the real work of therapy. Then, we can tell our stories in an embodied way, releasing the stuck energy of the past as we go.

Sometimes integrative psychotherapy is the way to go, and you can find out more about this here:

Sometimes we may need to make interventions to help the release process along, for example using EMDR. You can find out about this here:

For support in fully inhabiting your emotional life, get in touch at or by phone on 01325 467042.

Ying and Yang Wheel
Feeling feelings help us maintain our inner balance


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