AET techniques can be a valuable addition to every therapist’s toolkit. From our earliest days, we connect with others through empathy. Without words, we begin to feel what others are feeling. We read their eyes, their expressions, and the tone of their voice to learn what they are feeling.
People who are in touch with the complete range of physical body sensations have a rich emotional life. They fully experience both joyful love and poignant loss as they encounter the connections and disconnections of their unfolding life.
Therapists have long known that they will know their patients better if they imagine facing the challenges their patients face. The effect is magnified if they can physically feel what their patients feel. Experiencing the physical sensations of another person enables you to understand their emotions and help them to handle these feelings.
We can also learn to know ourselves better through empathizing with others. We not only begin to feel and share their emotions, we also become more aware of their reactions to us. Empathic interaction is a powerful therapeutic tool for both patient and therapist.
The key to empathy rests in familiarizing yourself with your own body sensations. This is where the “Science of Sensations” teaches you where to look and how to make use of your observations.
If we view our body sensations negatively, we tend to avoid theses sensations – maybe even fear them. But, over the long haul, if we cut ourselves off from the signals our body gives us, we tend to lose touch with the highs as well as the lows that define a full life. When body sensations are kept out of sight, life itself may seem flat and routine.
If we cut ourselves off from body sensations, they become unfamiliar and may even produce anxiety when we bump up against them again. This is an example of how the defenses we erect against these sensations cause dysfunction. Additionally, by damping down our awareness of negative body sensations, we inadvertently “turn down the volume” on other body sensations. We sometimes cut ourselves off from both energizing and calming sensations that can sustain us in our times. Think about simple acts such as letting your hands run through a moving stream of water or over a patch of cool green grass and how they put you in touch with body sensations that uplift you.
Most of us intuitively know that if a loved one is experiencing profound grief, we should hug them, hold or stroke their hands, and look at them with feeling in our eyes. Failing that, we try to be there for them, to console them, bring them food, or offer help. In one way or another, we try to show them that we care and invite them to connect.
AET refines the time-tested ways people connect with one another in order to make them conscious and powerful. Both therapist and patient begin to recognize weak as well as strong body sensations. We learn our own unique triggers and how to read our bodies from moment to moment.
Accelerated Empathic Therapy was developed by Michael Alpert, MD, MPH, who also serves as Vice President of the IEDTA. He practices AET in New York City and Denville, New Jersey, and he teaches and supervises through the New York/New Jersey STDP Institute, www.stdp.org. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.