One client discovered during a group session that she had never been allowed to say ‘no’ to her parents – anger was off the menu when she had been growing up. During the session – known in Pesso Boyden as a ‘structure’ – I worked with her to envisage her ‘ideal mother’ in the past, who would have allowed her to say ‘no’, permitted her to be angry and could have handled it. This concept was mind-blowing for my client. Whilst she knew on some level this was not happening in the present, she was able to connect emotionally. She was able to test her ‘mother’ as her seven-year-old self, feeling reassured she would not been punished, and the repressed anger held within her body then started to emerge.
This was a very safe experience conducted as a group session, so although experiencing strong past emotion, the client remained aware of the present even when she ‘felt’ aged 7. Other group members supported her as her body went through physical movements that she felt she wanted to inflict on her ‘ideal mother’. She had the freedom to go ‘full out’ knowing she was in a safe, confidential environment, and afterwards felt transformed. She was finally able to connect with the anger she hadn’t been permitted to express as a child, resolving an unmet need which had been making her shrink from life without the protective armour anger provides. She realised how much her childhood repression of her anger had been limiting her sense of power and confidence. She felt she could now step out with self-assurance and self-belief.