Emotional Release is a process whereby people learn how to exchange effective help with each other in order to free themselves from the effects of past distress experiences. The theory itself provides a model of what a human being can be like in the area of their interaction with other human beings and their environment. The theory assumes that everyone is born with tremendous intellectual potential, natural zest, and lovingness, but that these qualities have become blocked and obscured in adults as the result of accumulated distress experiences (fear, hurt, loss, pain, anger, embarrassment, etc.) which begin early in our lives.
Any young person would recover from such distress spontaneously by use of the natural process of emotional discharge (crying, trembling, raging, laughing, etc.). However, this natural process is usually interfered with by well-meaning people ("Don't cry," "Be a big boy," etc.) who erroneously equate the emotional discharge (the healing of the hurt) with the hurt itself.
When adequate emotional discharge can take place, the person is freed from the rigid pattern of behaviour and feeling left by the hurt. The basic loving, cooperative, intelligent, and zestful nature is then free to operate. Such a person will tend to be more effective in looking out for his or her own interests and the interests of others, and will be more capable of acting successfully against injustice.
In recovering and using the natural discharge processes, people can discharge in groups, take one-way sessions or two people can take turns counselling and being counselled. The role of counsellor is to listen and draw the client out and permits, encourages, and assists emotional discharge. The one acting as client explores thoughts and feeling, discharges and re-evaluates.
Emotional Release practice offers a systematic way for people to use and recover the natural processes of emotional release, to be freer of internalised conditioning, to be more flexible and hence be more in charge of their own lives. In a session one person, the counsellor, listens, pays attention, facilitates and encourages the release of feelings. The client talks and discharges and re-evaluates. The subject matter can be anything that the client chooses. At the end of the client's time the roles are reversed. With increased experience and confidence in each other the process becomes more and more effective.
The session assists individuals to gain an understanding of their own distress and trains clients to be effective co-counsellors. This approach seeks to break the fixed counsellor, client model. The Philosophy of ERC includes:
- an experiential and personal journey approach to counselling,
- a holistic perspective that can address personal, relational, communal and global issues,
- incorporate mind, body and spiritual dimensions of a client's issues,
- honour both biographical and transpersonal levels,
- include conscious and unconscious dynamics in presenting life issues.
Modalities employed by this approach include: bodywork such as Biodynamic Massage as well as dance and movement; Meditation; Expressive and integrative artwork, journaling; Dream work, Symbol work, Sand play; Breath work; Process work; and Gestalt voice dialogue.
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