Like any community, therapy spaces have their own set of languages. While some might be more medical – diagnoses or certain mental health-related abbreviations, others might be more general and may not be limited to just therapy spaces.
Take holding space, for example. It might have many meanings depending on how you see it and the context you are using it in. However, its meaning in the therapy space is probably something you might never expect. Let us share some insights and how you might apply them in your life.
What Does Holding Space Mean?
The critical factor of any therapeutic space is to provide a safe environment to articulate and express whatever you are going through. If you are familiar with private therapy or counselling, you might have experienced the comfort and safety we are talking about. Therapeutic spaces should provide an environment where you can be vulnerable yet have agency in the process.
“Holding space” means to be emotionally, mentally, and physically present for someone. It means focusing and supporting them as they share their emotions.
One key thing to note about holding space is controlling our tendency to judge while being present for the person sharing. Holding space starts with the listener setting a judgement-free, curious, and compassionate tone where the sharer can open up themselves freely.
Can I Hold Space For Myself?
Can you be emotionally, mentally, and physically present for yourself? Yes, you can! It might not be easy to focus entirely on yourself initially. We are often our biggest enemy in terms of expectations, so it can be painful to lay out on the table our emotions and thoughts and not judge at all. One excellent way to practice creating a holding space for ourselves would be to start with a mindfulness practice. One step at a time, little by little, we learn to tune ourselves towards the rhythm of our thoughts and not immediately go into judgmental mode.
Holding space is not something necessarily taught to us. Societal norms of acting the moment you face obstacles has been ingrained into our daily practices. Hence, it might initially feel weird to hold space and sit with the situation on hand. Here are some tips that might help you ease into the practice of holding space.
Tips To Ease Into Holding Space
Refocus how you listen.
It is usual to think about what we want to say next when we listen to someone talk. Doing this while holding space for someone is not going to work. Instead, we should give them the freedom to choose to talk, even when they remain silent. The focus should be on the person sharing instead of how and what we should respond to. The key is active listening – when the person is done sharing, repeat what they have said, so both you and the person is aware that both are on the same page.
Do not try to solve the problem immediately.
It is usual for us to think of a solution to a problem that someone shares. Holding space for someone is supposed to be free of judgment, and that consists of trying to solve their problem. Remember that the purpose of the therapy session is to allow the person to reflect on what they are going through. Once you remember that, transit back to active listening.
Do not be self-centred.
People often find it easier to relate to a particular situation when they link back to themselves. Things like “Oh! I’ve been through a similar situation.” or “Did you know last time I too….” Holding space is not the place to share what you have been through. Holding space is all about the other person and not you.
Always assure the sharer.
It is never easy to be vulnerable, especially in modern society, where it is so easy for people to throw judgement. Hence, when you are holding space for someone, assure the other party that you acknowledge and believe what they are sharing. Always remind them that you understand and accept their thinking and beliefs.
Have an open mind to the emerging emotions.
Emotions are a complicated thing, and you never know what will come up during the space of vulnerability. Instead of fighting it, allow and encourage the person to let it out. Always assure them that no matter what, it is a safe space to be true to their emotions and that you are with and for them no matter what happens.
Holding space for someone is all about that person, and you are there to support them emotionally, mentally, and physically. It involves active listening and being less judgemental or quick to solve the issue. Whether you are holding space for someone or yourself, always be encouraging and allow an open space where there is the freedom to share and be true to our emotions.
If you require therapeutic assistance in any situation you might be going through and wish to talk to a therapist, A Space Between works with some of Singapore’s most experienced private therapists that will create the safe space you need to share your thoughts and feelings.
Offering some of Singapore’s most aesthetically pleasing and convenient therapy rooms, contact us today to find out more.
No matter what you’re facing, perhaps our website can offer up some solace or comfort. Know that you’re not alone, and that there is help available. This can be hard to keep in mind if you haven’t quite found the right support system. While it’s definitely not easy to find the right fit—whether you’re looking for a support group or a mental health provider—with diligence, it’s totally possible.
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