One of the techniques we use a lot in both my group and individual Schema therapy sessions is imagery. I think I’ve spoken about the ‘safe place’ exercise before – where we picture somewhere where nothing can hurt us and we take in only who and what we want. Mine is often a meadow or a place from childhood. I rarely take anything with me – I feel safer on my own and I’m not sure yet what items I possess that feel genuinely healthy and emotive.
Yesterday in group we discussed the Punative Parent again and we all discussed why we think it is a feature in our lives, where the schema came from and what it says. Then our therapist lead an imagery exercise where we were all children together on a beach and playing in the water and sat around a fire and she told us some good things about each of us. It wasn’t something I dealt very well with. I struggle to hear nice things about myself and imagined everyone else did too. For me, it’s because I believe my PP (apparently I have what I think is called a defective parent/protector or something along those lines where I just think there is something inherently bad about me) and it sneers at me when people say nice things. So I became very upset imagining everyone else was reacting in the same way to positive things about them – when the other people in my group deserve to realise what lovely people they are. I felt so helpless in making them see that.
And today in my one to one group (and thank you to those who gave me advice last week – I told my therapist i cared and she seemed pleased to hear it) I was a child sat next to the radiator in the front room from my childhood. My therapist joined me there and we played games and ate ice cream I had cookies and cream – obv). What was the point of the exercise? To help me have fun with my younger side and to have her support there as well as now. To see I was just a child with needs and…other things that are too personal for me to talk about right now.
But it’s worth a try if you’re feeling anxious or sad – close your eyes and take yourself off somewhere safe in your mind and calm yourself until you can rationalise things. It’s good for your imagination if nothing else.