Holding Space

Holding Space is something we do as nurses, we do it for patients going through difficult times, the dying, their families, people with mental health issues and while giving difficult information.

Holding space is something we can all do for each other – our partners, family, neighbours, even strangers! 

Holding Space is particularly important for Psychedelic Therapy.

What does holding space mean?

Holding Space is to truly support people in their own personal development, challenges, grief, etc.

We need to do it by avoiding taking control for example, trying to fix their problems, shaming them by implying that they should know more than they do, or overwhelming them with too much information.

We have to be totally prepared to let them make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe and heard even if they over share or make mistakes.

How do we hold space for people?

  1. Trust their personal intuition and wisdom.

Often, we feel we know what needs to be done in a difficult situation and try to advise. When holding space for another, let their intuition and accumulated wisdom guide them through their process.

  1. Don’t overwhelm them with information.

There is often no need to give lots of information all at once, even if you know everything about their situation. Share whatever they are ready for so that they are not too overwhelmed.

  1. Don’t take their power away.

This can leave them feeling useless and incompetent. As someone holding space, our job is not to take over, but rather to offer support and help them feel empowered in making the decisions that are best for them.

  1. Keep your own ego out of it.

This may be difficult, but it is so important. To truly support someone and hold space for them, we need to keep our own ego out of the way and create space where they have the opportunity to grow and learn.

  1. Make them feel safe enough to fail.

By not making a judgment, we offer them the opportunity to reach inside themselves to find the courage they need to take risks, as well as the resilience to keep going even when they fail.

  1. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.

Recognising the areas in which the person feels most vulnerable and offering the right kind of help without shaming them takes practice and humility.

  1. Create an understanding for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc.

Help the person you are holding space for feel that they are being held in a deeper way than they are used to, so that they feel safe enough to allow complex emotions surface that might normally remain hidden.

  1. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.

Holding space is about respecting each person’s differences and recognising that those differences may result in them making choice we would not make.   When we hold space, we release control and accept differences.

Holding Space in Psychedelic Therapy

It is important to support people who have ingested psychedelics without guiding or leading them.

We can let patients know what’s available to them (a blanket, a glass of water, a snack, etc.) but let them decide for themselves what they need.

We can sit with them in silence or go for a walk. As they talk to us, we don’t have to interpret what they’re saying or lead them to any decisions or conclusions. We can simply listen with empathy, occasionally reflecting back to them what we’ve heard.

We don’t need to solve any existential crises, nor do we need to nudge, redirect, or rush the healing process.

Simply by holding space, we help them feel safe.

Author: PsyNurse

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