A post by psychotherapist and counselor Katrina Heptonstall

Many years ago I heard a metaphor about a balloon that helped me to really understand emotions and how they play out in our lives. It has stuck with me ever since.  Recently, I heard myself using the balloon metaphor to explain emotions and the process of therapy to a client. Only I vamped it up into a new and improved version: I’ll call it Balloon Mark II.  And quite frankly, in my nerdy-therapist kind of way, I think it’s awesome – even if I do say so myself! I saw my client’s eyes widen with interest as she related the metaphor to herself.  She told me that it really made sense; helping her to understand what was going on for her. I too think it accurately captures the essence of emotions and the significance of therapy.

So here it is, Balloon Mark II – although I think ‘Beach Ball’ might be better suited.

Have you ever been to the beach, swam in a pool or had a bath? Ok that’s definitely a silly question. But maybe you’ve also taken some floaty toys in the water and watched them bob around on the surface. And then just for fun, you’ve plunged the floaty toy below the surface and watched it spring back up. Well, imagine doing this with a beach ball where you’re holding it beneath the surface of the water for say, 10 seconds. What would you notice? Maybe it’d move a little to the left, or to the right as you feel it wanting to return to the surface. You may also notice that you need to exert a bit of energy to hold it there. Now, imagine holding the beach ball there for years – how tiring that would feel. Exhausting even.  You may forget about it after a while, but a large chunk of your energy would still be invested in keeping it there below the surface.

In the psychology world this is called suppression. Where when issues (events, circumstances, emotions) aren’t dealt with properly at the time they arise, become suppressed – or pushed down and aside. “Nothing to see here”.  And we soldier on.  Yet often what happens is, like the beach ball naturally trying to return to the surface, our emotions and blocked-issues often come out sideways in unhelpful, different manners. Where we may snap at our loved ones, or we may become anxious or depressed.  It may come out as an illness, addiction, anger, or relationship issues.  But because we didn’t or don’t know how to manage these circumstances at the time, or maybe they still feel too difficult to face, we keep them there, held under the water. For a long time; maybe forever.

The role of a practitioner therefore, is to safely guide the beach ball back to the surface in a skilled, non-judgmental and confidential manner so that you can be free of these sideways consequences. The situation or problem beach ball may be from far back in the past, or may be happening currently, but the most important thing is to address it. To be free of it now and in the future, and evade any adverse effects on your wellbeing.

-Katrina Heptonstall. Give Katrina a call on 0404 506 507 for a free and quick consultation and see what I can do to help, or book a session. Katrina has an introductory offer of just $80 for 60min Counselling session,or $100 for 90 mins IST session.