The phenomenological is the systematic reflection on human consciousness: what “is” in the moment and the experiences that appear in acts of consciousness during therapeutic work through CRM. CRM provides the solution in order to answer the question, “ How do I feel when I sit with myself in the presence of another?” Conscious relationship to self is likely the most essential aspect which is relevant in both the therapist’s and client’s experiences during the healing work. Self-awareness of what “is”, moment to moment, is crucial in facilitating the expansion of relationship to self and other. Whether through Core Self work or through trauma healing via the entire Comprehensive Resource Model, the need for this awareness begins with that of the therapist. In CRM the emotional health of the therapist is of vital importance, as states of dis-ease, unresolved trauma and ego-driven choices on the part of the therapist diminish the attunement necessary for promoting a healthy relationship with self within the client. Throughout the teaching and use of CRM, therapists are encouraged to ask themselves how consciously connected they are to their own experiences of being triggered, dissociated or in denial, and are invited to pay attention to how this awareness, or lack thereof, is impacting their therapeutic relationships and therapeutic choices, thereby affecting what “is”. Every layer of resource within CRM can be used toward accommodation of the emotional and survival needs of therapists in relationship to themselves in and out of session, until the therapists have reached a point in their own healing in which they are clear and conscious of themselves as they sit with clients. Through the use of CRM, therapists learn how to “be” without attachment to the outcome of their work, and are directly challenged to walk their talk in moving toward unconditional self-love as a constant presence when guiding another in creating the same for themselves.
In the world of psychotherapy, the terms “heart-centred living” or “being heart-centred” are used vaguely, resulting in therapists (or at least the authors of this book) feeling hard-pressed to find out how to actually put such a concept into practice. The Comprehensive Resource Model provides the breathing skills, resourcing protocols and guidance in actualising the experience of resonance with one’s heart. Whether this is metaphorical or the literal organ, or something else, is difficult to pinpoint, but the interventions are effective regardless of the debate that this may engender. CRM therapists role-model this quality in their work and augment access to the organic state of heart centeredness through the learning of this modality as well as through practice – the “Being” of it with their clients. The physicality of the heart itself, when used as a frame for therapeutic experience, does in fact transform the relational field and consciousness of that field, whether it be internal (with self) or external (with others). This organic expansion of awareness and new truth appears to happen through conscious connection to the heart, IN the heart, without assumption or judgment. Revelations that occur this way during trauma processing and resource enhancement are experienced by clients as pure and indeed as higher wisdom; very few words or interventions are needed in facilitating this process when working within the frame of CRM. The Heart Chambers protocol described in Chapter 17 is one example of how heart centred work is accomplished in CRM.
Without the ability to stay firmly centred in one’s heart, or higher levels of consciousness, neither therapists nor clients are equipped to sit with the tension that results from stepping into paradox. The work of therapy is the integration of opposites (Ross, 2007), therefore paradox is another primary target area of CRM work. Living while holding states of paradox is extremely stressful physiologically and impossible to navigate cognitively. Therefore, avoidance of the high levels of confusion, ambivalence and shame that are present in paradox contributes to: addictions, dissociation and the polarisation of one or the other conflicting experiences (e.g., love and hate of a parent). Paradox and the intolerance to consciously experiencing two opposing feelings at once is targeted directly in the clinical work itself, therefore it is also necessary for therapists to be able to see or hear a paradox when it is covertly presented. Clear examples which may present either implicitly or explicitly include: “ I must attach to survive but attaching makes me feel like I will die”; “I love my parents, I hate my parents”; “I am horrible, I am special”; “I want to die, I want to live”, and “ I want to heal and I don’t want to change”. As described by Colin Ross:
“The opposites have been dissociated, the patient switching states in a chaotic fashion, hiding in one to avoid the other, using addiction, acting out and cognitive errors to avoid the attunement of opposites. The goal is not the elimination of opposites, it is their attunement; to feel both, be stuck in neither, and be desperate to escape neither.” (Ross, 2007)
The self-state necessary to allow the process of paradoxical feelings and behaviours to unfold and release is one of clear, neutral awareness which is paradoxical in and of itself considering the level of discomfort that is created by holding conflict that has no solution. The search for paradox in the healing journey is like looking at a starry night sky – the more it is gazed upon, the more becomes visible, and much of the work is simply practicing sitting with the tension of opposites in the same neutral and curious state with which one looks at a starry sky. A deep level of neurobiological resourcing is necessary for a client to achieve neutrality in the face of paradox and CRM provides this in order to facilitate stepping into the seemingly unbearable distress that is a consequence of knowing there is no practical answer. The solution, if one were to label it, lies in rendering paradoxes powerless in perpetuating a state of highly charged negative valence, a state which takes its toll through symptomatology (whether DSM-5 or ICD10) and/or medical conditions. The conflict of opposites often arises from the problem of attachment to the perpetrator, the subject of the next section.
This overview has highlighted the essential nature of the emotional health of the CRM therapist to ensure the vital attunement to the client and their therapeutic needs. To safeguard the outcome of therapy, the qualities of a CRM therapist as warrior (ruthless, cunning, patient and sweet) are of the utmost importance (Castaneda, 1987). The therapist must be ruthless, not giving up when the information is slow to reveal. Therapists are up against internal dissociative systems which have been in place for years, and without the sense of ruthlessness in our work, it is understandable but clinically unhelpful to give up and admit “ this doesn’t work”. It is this ruthlessness that allows clients to feel they are worth hanging in there with, worth the time, patience and effort, that they are not being given up on as they may have been in the past. In this context cunning is a stronger word for creative, adding the essence of strength and perseverance to the therapist’s creativity. Without cunning, the therapist and client are at risk of falling into complacency, with obstacles thus overcoming the progress. Patience is of course paramount in doing this work and is associated with the need to be not attached to the outcome. Patience is a quality that most trauma survivors did not experience in childhood, therefore being patient with the clients serves a dual purpose: providing a corrective experience as well as the time and space that is so needed in order for the nervous system to adjust to a new way of responding to fear. Sweetness is a simple state of being with another human being from a place of unconditional love; it allows for the experience of being handled gently and without countertransference. When used with confidence, sweetness is very healing framework for stepping into suffering and agony. It is a characteristic that is often over-utilised by therapists who operate from a state of fear and attempt to avoid deep work by being too soft while erroneously believing that the clients are too fragile to work with in a direct and strong way.
(Excerpted from) The Comprehensive Resource Model: Effective Therapeutic Techniques for the Healing of Complex Trauma, written by Lisa Schwarz, Frank Corrigan, Alastair Hull and Rajiv Raju, published by Routledge, 2017