I've had the pleasure of seeing a certain client most weeks throughout this second lockdown for 'virtual ZBs' over Zoom. I share this story with their permission.
During a recent session, the client mentioned that one of his close friends was in hospital after a serious heart attack. He was devastated. The hospital staff performed open heart surgery on his friend multiple times, blood oxygen levels were low and there were signs that the friend's organs were really struggling. The family had been called to come to the hospital to bid farewell. This session was one where a deep grief loomed large.
During the framing, the client verbally expressed, and at the same time dismissed, the notion that we could offer the session for his friend, and then went onto describing what he himself needed. He was feeling powerless because he was unable to visit due to the pandemic, let alone help his friend's struggling wife and family. He was visibly shaken and upset. I offered that we tend to all those things: offer the session for his friend, address his powerlessness and balance his emotional state.
And so began my first ever virtual ZB by proxy. The client received the session on behalf of his friend who lay in hospital - someone I had never met, yet I knew because of my client's close relationship with him that it would work. And, now that I think about it, at the same time it would naturally address the client's feelings of powerlessness and dread. He now had utility and agency in the otherwise helpless situation he found himself in.
I invited the client to first become grounded in his body, by focusing on his breath and then on the weight of his body on the couch. When there was a certain level of quietude, I invited the client to bring into his mind's eye his good friend. Happy, vibrant memories were encouraged. Then, verbally stating that this session was for his friend, I went about doing a virtual ZB.
Working on someone who has recently had such major physical traumas and is in such a state of physical deterioration had a very different feel to it. I could sense it in my hands as we worked - the heart bleeds, the trauma to the chest, the fear of death.
At the end of the session, I recommended the client disconnect from his friend and drop all imagery from his mind's eye. When he came to and sat up, his countenance was very different. He glowed, smiled, and expressed his gratitude for the session. He left feeling empowered to take action and try some remote healing work on his friend.
The following week I learnt that the friend was doing better, with a long road to recovery ahead. The sedatives for the induced coma had been stopped some five days beforehand and there was a slow return to the waking world. To cut this a little short, suffice to say we did another session by proxy, this time focusing on the liver and the nervous system. And more specifically, on purification (liver) and light (central nervous system).
I felt inspired to share this account with the ZB community for two reasons... Well, maybe just one, really. I wanted to share that it's become increasingly clear to me how often clients limit themselves. This client did so by dismissing the idea what we could gift the session to his friend. The way I see it, a huge part of the role of the therapist is to empower the client. Had I done a session like this before? No. Did that stop me from offering it? No. And that's where the (sort of) second reason comes in. How often do we limit ourselves as practitioners?
My inspiration in this regard comes from Fritz in 'Alchemy of Touch'. In the book, Fritz dowses the age of a trauma, facilitates ancestral healing, works directly with the Water Official. He even expresses disappointment at not getting to the root of a client's Crohn's disease. At no point does he dismiss a client's frame, no matter how audacious or seemingly out of reach it may be. And neither does he limit himself. His is an example for us to follow.
Doing a ZB by proxy in this way has changed my perspective not so much of what is possible - although it did that a little - but more of myself. If I am to empower my clients, what use is it if I disempower myself? If a client wants to go somewhere in a session that is not familiar territory to me, who is to say that it's not possible? That's not going to be me. I'll continue to get out of my own way, so the client can get what they need.
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash
It almost goes without saying that the coronavirus lockdown has a far reaching impact across many levels of society. As a therapist, I was able to start seeing clients again in late July, meaning I had a four month break since lockdown was first introduced. What I have seen in my clients since starting up again is not something I could have predicted. The impacts vary from client to client, however, one thing is for sure: not one of them was left unscathed.
Looking solely at how lockdown has impacted individuals on emotional and mental wellbeing, there are three general themes that I have noticed in my clients. Sometimes a client will present with just one of these being prominent, others have had a mixture.