What is content free therapy?

What is content free therapy?

“Content free” is a phrase that not many people who contact me have heard of. They’re always surprised to find that working “content free” potentially means that they can see me about things they find embarrassing or difficult – without ever having to tell me what they are

I always start these case studies by saying that the person’s identity has been disguised and they agreed to me writing about them. This time with Sian (not her real name of course) it’s different. That’s because I’ve treated her using a “content free” technique, and so while she’s happy for me to describe how, I still have no idea what was troubling her.

Sian had just a problem that she found so difficult that she couldn’t begin to talk about it without crying. She’d tried counselling but hadn’t found it helpful for her, and was adamant that she didn’t want to try another “talking therapy”. All Sian could tell me was that she felt that circumstances were pulling her in two different directions.

I didn’t ask Sian what the two choices were as I’d promised that I wouldn’t ask her directly about why she’d come. I asked if she could give them both a name, and she chose “North” and “South”. I asked her to imagine that the part of her that wanted to choose North was sitting in her left hand and describe it to me.

This is something that people are often surprised to find easier than they expected. At first Sian said that she couldn’t, and I asked her how she would describe it if she really had to. This was enough for her to be able to describe North as looking like a taller, confident looking version of herself. When I asked her to describe South as if it was in her right hand she described a younger, more smiling version of herself.

I guided Sian in asking questions of these two different parts – why were they behaving as they were? What were they afraid might happen? Why did they want her to make those choices? What came out of this was that they both wanted the same thing for her – to be happy and fulfilled – but were pulling her in opposite directions.

All the time keeping my questions “content free”, and so not asking her specific details I led Sian through a discussion between these two parts – what were they willing to try differently? What were they scared might happen? What would it take for them to trust the other part? By making both sides understand that she appreciated what they were trying to do Sian was able to take the best of them and come up with a new, coherent third part. She described this as looking like a taller, happier version of herself.

Where Sian was similar to many other people was in her surprise at how tiring doing this can be, and how quick and effective. Until she started she was still a bit sceptical, but once she was engaged with the two parts she was completely involved. It’s actually a very simple way of getting different parts of your subconscious to work together. In the end that’s why this content free technique works – even if you never tell me what it’s about.

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