There is so much misconception about trauma work and handling heavy feelings. Traditionally we were told to open things up and assume that they will fall into the right places and we can move on. Or that those traumatic experiences of others do not touch us, and we can act as a blank page.
For those of us who work in coaching and counselling, primarily if we work in a group setting, facilitating endings is quite common, but I think it is a skill we can all benefit from. Helping others move through endings is a beautiful skill – it allows for safe spaces, kindness, understanding and sometimes a bit of challenge (in a good way).
Asking for help takes courage, but it pays off. You do not have to suffer alone; you do not need to carry a load of heavy feelings on your own. Reach out, ask for help, and ask for specific tips or practical help. Whatever you need to process the ending you are going through.
Earlier, I mentioned discussing endings, but sometimes the emotions are so tangled and heavy that it may be challenging to vocalise them. We may need other forms of communication – we can use creativity to express them or maybe work with our bodies – go for a walk, dance, shake it out or sit still and hold those feelings in our awareness. Remember that becoming aware of our emotions and finding ways to express them can feel healing.
That is precisely why we have developed rituals around grief, so why not include small rituals in other endings too? When I finish work with a client, I light a candle or burn wood in my garden. I pause and reflect on the work I am about to let go of and move forward from. I celebrate the connection with the client and the journey they are on too. Celebrating endings helps us externalise our strong and heavy feelings, which can feel healing.
Talking about endings can feel hard at first, but it can also be quite liberating. As they say: a load shared is a load halved. A lot of healing comes from social interactions, validation, and acknowledging our feelings. Sometimes that is all we need to pause and put the heavy feelings down; reflect before moving on.
That’s what we do during our coaching and counselling training: we learn about the importance of endings and practice holding those for and with our clients. We read, discuss and reflect on the science of grief, identity changes, loss, final stages of work and other endings to feel more equipped to support our clients safely. You can do this too.
Thinking about endings can sometimes feel scary, especially when dealing with complex grief, suicide, traumatic loss or sudden changes in our reality. It may feel right to pause, switch off our feelings, or dissociate even. However, accepting our feelings and exploring them safely may help the healing.
This month, I would like to talk about endings because I had many of them recently and learned a lot about the importance of handling them well – especially in therapeutic and coaching work.
What’s the difference between coaching and counselling – my clients often ask. Coaching and counselling can feel similar on paper; however, the two services I provide are different. Let’s have a look at the main differences between coaching and counselling.