Les Greenberg: Working with Core Emotion Video

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) involves islands of work within an ocean of empathy. Underlying unprocessed painful emotions - such as the sadness of lonely abandonment, the shame of inadequacy and the fear of separation or danger - are seen as being at the core of presenting problems.




In this film Les works on getting to the disease underlying the client’s symptomatic presentation, based on the notion that you have to arrive at a place before you can leave it. The empathic relationship between therapist and client provides the safety that the client needs to be able to go deeply into those painful emotions, hitherto felt to be too frightening, and to reclaim the healthy need, action tendency and more adaptive emotions connected to the painful emotions.

In the therapy session Les helps the client to access both her core feelings of being unseen and unloved and her automatic ways of interrupting her emotions. The interruption protects her from her pain but also blocks her freedom of expression and produces bodily tension, pain and suffering. In an emotionally poignant process she gets to her core pain and expresses it to an imagination of her mother sitting opposite. Les and the client work together to access her painful emotions, and the needs embedded in them, which enables her to build towards feeling more worthy of love. At the end Les validates her pain, adding to the process of change by helping break her sense of lonely isolation and by confirming her growing sense of worth.


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