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Therapy and the Float Tank

Therapy, like being in a float tank, is one of the few places where we only focus on our internal processes. As a therapist, I am constantly examining my process alongside my clients’ processes: what feelings are the client bringing up in me? What can I learn about myself through their struggles? How can I use the medicine I’ve gleaned from past experiences to help them?

Like each float session, each therapy session holds a completely new experience. I learn things about myself every hour from my therapist’s chair, and it is my hope that my clients do the same. Like being in the float tank, after a therapy session I discover new aspects to the world and leave an improved, aware person. My world becomes clearer, and I see things as they are, not as I want them to be. Awareness can be painful, but most births are. Anyone on a spiritual path knows that awareness of oneself leads to understanding and forgiveness of others.

Therapy is the one hour (or more) a client takes out of their week to simply reflect on who they are and how they can improve. We use a term in therapy that I also use when I am floating called the “here and now.” This is an observation of a process that is happening in the moment. For example, in a float tank I might notice that I keep thinking, “Ugh! Why am I not relaxing?” and judging myself. I might also notice that once I let go that I’m not relaxed, I ironically start to relax. The same phenomenon occurs in therapy, though I am there to bring awareness to it. I often will hear clients judging themselves for thoughts or feelings they are having, and I will call attention to it, asking them to elaborate on the origins of such a thinking pattern. It is helpful to have an outsider point this out instead of trying to catch yourself doing it. In the float tank, it is just you and your thoughts, but in therapy it is you bouncing ideas off of a therapist who is attempting to understand you.

Awareness keeps me present and curious, which is essential in the therapeutic process. For the client, therapy can feel like a one-way channel in which they are the only ones in the room receiving help, but there is a symbiosis that occurs when therapy is working well. There are times where the only difference between my client and I is that they are sitting on a couch, and I am sitting on a chair. I may not speak of this process to my clients, but I heal alongside my clients in a deep way.

Emily Capelli, MS

A Psychotherapist and Psychology professor practicing in East Falls, Philadelphia, Emily specializes in body shame, self-esteem, and trauma using an energizing, empathic, and hopeful approach. Her practice is named Body Love Therapy, where she works with other creatives to promote recovery that goes beyond symptom reduction

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