As coaches or others in helping professions, we are sought after to support people in their most challenging moments. Though we are used to offering people support in person, it is essential to also know how to connect with people during social distancing.
Somatica coaches – and other coaches who use touch in their practice – have the option of actually holding clients when they are hurting. We offer loving, supportive physical contact to people when they are experiencing hurt or grief.
How To Hold Someone – Without Holding Them Physically
In this time of social distancing, it’s so important to know how to still intimately and compassionately connect with people. We were recently asked by one of our Somatica Training students how to hold someone – without actually holding them.
So here are 3 ways you can give someone the feeling of being held during a Zoom or phone consultation:
Have Them Use Their Imagination
When you are coaching someone online and they are feeling alone, hurt, or are grieving, engage them in a creative visualization. Ask them to picture you holding them. To make the experience more real, it is helpful to use descriptive language.
Paint a specific picture by saying: “I’m imagining my arms wrapped around you right now”. Or “I’m imagining you relaxed, lying in my lap, and I’m gently stroking your hair”. You can also ask people how they would want to be held by you, and then expand on their suggestions. For example, you might ask, “If I could hold you just right, what would you want me to do?”
Connect to Yourself – and Bring Yourself Limbically
When we are far away from each other, what is missing is the feeling of our limbic systems joining and syncing up. This connection tends to be very calming to the body.
For your clients to feel linked to you, they need to receive signals from their body that you are present with them. But before you can bring yourself limbically, you must connect with yourself. So take a few deep breaths and make sure you can feel your body – your heart, your belly, and your pelvic floor. It helps to have your feet on the ground and continue to be aware of your own breath and body throughout your time with them.
Then, try these three tools:
- Attunement – match their pace and energy. Maybe they are more solemn or want to bring more humor. Follow their lead.
- Eye contact – look into their eyes gently and feel your love for them.
- Soft voice – make sure your voice expresses the care you feel for them.
Focus on Listening and Empathizing
When people are under the stress of social distancing (or similar stressors), one of the main things they need is to be heard and understood by you.
Don’t think about their experience through your own filter – really try to understand how they are experiencing it. Make sure to speak this empathy. Don’t just say, “I understand” say, “Yeah, you are feeling totally overwhelmed right now, and it’s hard to make a decision. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a really overwhelming time.” Notice that this statement is not about you. Don’t say you feel the same way as they do – unless that is something that seems like it would be particularly soothing to them.
We hope this helps!