How to Work With ‘Carried Feelings’

In this blog, I share with you different ways to work with Carried Feelings.

Sometimes as therapists, working with past trauma and shame can be a heavy, but lifting process.

Pull the Shame Up

In working with carried feelings, you can have the person literally in their mind’s eye, scoop up the shame out of their body and hand it, throw it, or transmit it somehow back to the person or perpetrator who made the feel shameful in the first place.

Ultimately that person might be very rejective, even sticking out their tongue, or they might be making fun of them in a really nasty way in your client’s mind. Then you, as the therapist, come in and read the “riot act.” You sit there and act like a father or a grandfather, and you take this in (and mind you it can be heaving at times).

Involve Others

Sometimes you have other group members stand by the empty chair where the perpetrator sits and hold them to it. It’s a pretty assertive process. You don’t let the person be abusive to the perpetrator, but man can it get intense!

It can be really, really angry. It can be reactivating, particularly with sexual shame, people can get nauseous. I’ve seen Belinda and when … somebody gets nauseous, she even brings in the wastebasket and places it between their knees and says, “Well, if you need to throw up, throw up. Let’s keep going.”

By the end of the session, you have given back all of the carried feelings that you took on to the person who threw their shameless behavior and transmitted their feelings to you.

Deal with the Shame That Takes Over

Shame will be something that you can almost universally count on being transmitted.

The person is behaving shamelessly and their inner child takes on that shame. Then there will be other feelings that the person may yell out

“…. I took on your anger…. I took on your fear…. I took on your sadness…. I have my own sadness, and I hold the part of sadness that is mine…. I give you back the sadness that is yours. I will not carry your sadness for you any longer. I have carried it for most of my life…. I’ve been depressed most of my life, I will not carry this sadness for you anymore!!!”

This is a depiction and how it goes: the perpetrator is then asked to leave. Their inner child is brought back into the body. The person then proceeds to open their eyes to be able to receive feedback in the group setting from other members. If this type of dialogue happens in a couple of sessions, you turn to the partner and ask “how was this for you?”


In 99 out of 100 times, you’ll get an empathic response. Often the partner is crying – along with the client that you’re working with.

That’s what carried feelings feel like.

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