The 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion is one of the core clinical strategies in Integral Somatic Psychology™ (ISP™).
The practice is taught during the ISP Professional Training, with concrete steps and tools for how one might go about “embodying emotions”, or building a greater capacity for tolerating emotions through expansion of its conscious experience to as much of the body as possible, to improve treatment times and diverse a range of outcomes in all therapies including other body psychotherapy systems.
An Easy-to-Learn Scientific Method
It is an easy-to-learn scientific method to help you improve outcomes in all therapies.
It is especially useful for working with those who have very low levels of affect tolerance or those with high levels of physical dysregulation. The combination is often found in clients with complex traumas or psychophysiological symptoms or syndromes.
The graph gives you guidance on how the protocol works. Below the graph, I will explain more about each step.
Let me take you through it.
All 7 Steps Explained
- Work with a situation and find an emotion to work with and support it to the extent necessary.
- Locate the emotion in one place in the brain and body physiology. Locally expand it, but not for long. Please remember that the longer you stay in one place, the deeper you will go into it. The level as well as the intensity of the emotional experience there could become too high to tolerate.
- Locate the emotion in another place. Again, locally expand it, but not for too long.
- Pivot to paying attention to physiological and energetic aspects of integration which is paying attention to the physical and energetic ease that results from creating capacity for emotion in steps 2 and 3. Let go of your attention to the situation and support for the emotion. Let the emotion remain in the background.
- Locate physiological or energetic aspects of integration in one place in the brain and body physiology, especially in one of the places where emotion was present. Expand it locally, but not for long. If you do, the physiology will deepen in the area, which might make the experience of the unpleasant emotion in the next cycle more difficult to manage.
- Locate physiological or energetic aspects of integration in another place, especially in one of the places where emotion was present. Expand, but not for long.
- Global Integration: expand your awareness to the whole of your body or energy and pay attention to the overall improvement in your body and energy, especially energy. Stay here a bit longer than in other steps.
The Science Behind it
If you want to learn more about the solid science behind the 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotions in particular (or the more general and flexible practice of embodying emotions implemented in 4 steps for a variety of clinical situations), please read the book The Practice of Embodying Emotions.
How to Implement It
If you want to implement the 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotions and the more versatile 4-Step process of embodying emotions for a variety of clinical situations, join the ISP Professional Training.
Find online or in-person training in our Training Schedule.
You’ll find it is an easy-to-learn scientific method to improve treatment times and diverse outcomes in all therapies.
Learn what happened when a therapist started using the 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion
I just wanted to take a moment to share a success story from last week that is entirely the result of your teachings and the [7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion].
I started with a new telehealth client two weeks ago and have seen her four times. This client was referred to me after she was attacked by a stranger at night while walking down the street alone after leaving an event that she had traveled across the country to attend.
I spent the first session learning about what happened during the attack and the client’s present symptoms (fear of being alone, fear of driving, fear of strangers, nightmares, frequent crying, etc.), and providing emotional support and validating the client’s response through psychoeducation.
In the second session, I helped her prepare for how she can disclose her experience to others with respect for her boundaries and encouraged her to ask for what she needs and accept help from her support system.
This week, during our third session, the client described having panic attacks during the night after waking up from nightmares. She reported feeling frustrated and I led her through the [7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion] to spread the frustration throughout her body.
After she expanded the frustration, she said that she felt her body able to relax for the first time since the attack (over 3 weeks earlier).
We went through two cycles of frustration and relaxation and I prompted the client to try this expansion technique on her own when terror arises.
I saw the client again three days later and she was amazed to tell me how much better she had been feeling since we last met. She was having a “good day” the morning of our meeting and said that she had been feeling and sleeping much better since our last session. For example, she had been able to manage the steps of cooking, something she really enjoys, for the first time since the attack.
It was so wonderful for me to get to witness this clear progress in a client so quickly.
I have been doing therapy for 8 years and have seen some amazing things in that time, but I can’t think of any change that happened so immediately and clearly, with someone I just started working with.
I am so grateful to you Raja and all the work you have done to learn effective ways of helping people and to distribute that knowledge to others.
Stephanie Fagliano, LCSW
Learn How to Use the 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion to Improve Your Outcomes
The 7-Step Protocol for Embodying Emotion is one of the core clinical strategies in Integral Somatic Psychology™ (ISP™). The practice is taught during the ISP Professional Training. You’ll find it is an easy-to-learn scientific method to improve treatment times and diverse outcomes in all therapies.
Find online or in-person training in our Training Schedule.