It is important that you know how to soothe yourself before beginning to look at any difficult feelings and memories in counselling. Grounding means bringing yourself back to the here and now if emotions or memories become overwhelming. I will always work on this with a client so I can assist them not to become overwhelmed within sessions.
Here are some suggestions for grounding or self-soothing.
Slow and focussed deep breathing can help, as can holding on to an object that is cool to the touch (such as a pebble or coin).
You may be able to bring yourself back into the room by using your senses:
Sight – list what you can see in the room and what colours you see
Touch – notice where parts of your body are touching the ground or your chair; dig your heels into the ground
Smell – what can you smell; you could even spray a strong sent
Taste – what taste is in your mouth, perhaps have a mint
Sound – what can you hear, perhaps birds or traffic outside.
You can also try and place yourself in a happier memory, perhaps a favourite place or being with a loved pet. Go through the list of senses above trying to remember what that sense was experiencing in the memory.
Another way to soothe yourself could be to have a comforting mantra. This would be words you can repeat to yourself that are reassuring, relevant to your situation and accurate statements; such as ‘everything is ok, I am safe here, and no one can hurt me any more’.