Holding Space: An Essential Skill for Coaches, Therapists, and Facilitators

Holding Space: An Essential Skill for Coaches, Healers, and Facilitators

As coaches, healers, and facilitators, we try to create a safe and supportive space for our clients or participants. But how can we make it truly safe and supportive? How can we create a space where people can bring their whole selves, where they can be vulnerable and authentic, and where they can feel heard and seen? The answer is simple yet profound: by holding space.

In this blog post, I’ll share with you what holding space means, why it’s important, how to do it, and some tips for practicing it, so that you can enhance your coaching, healing, or facilitation skills and create a truly transformative experience for those you work with.

Ready to learn more about the power of holding space? Let’s dive in!

What is Holding Space?

Holding space is a way of creating a safe and non-judgmental environment for someone to express themselves, process their emotions, and find their own answers. It’s a way of being fully present with someone without trying to impose your own agenda, opinions, or solutions.

It’s a way of holding the space for them to be themselves, to feel what they feel, and to explore what they need to explore. Holding space is an act of compassion, respect, and trust.

Why is holding space important?

Holding space is important because it creates the conditions for healing, growth, and transformation. When we hold space for someone, we allow them to access their own wisdom, insights, and resources. We provide them with the support and validation they need to feel seen, heard, loved, and understood. And we help them to feel safe enough to face their fears, doubts, and vulnerabilities. Holding space is a way of honoring someone’s journey and empowering them to find their own way.

How to hold space?

Holding space is not something you do, but rather something you ARE. It’s a state of being that requires you to cultivate certain qualities, such as presence, empathy, compassion, and detachment. Here are some tips for holding space:

  1. Be fully present: Focus on the person in front of you and pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, and energy.
  2. Listen deeply: Listen to what they say and what they don’t say. Be curious, open-minded, and non-judgmental.
  3. Empathize: Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their perspective, feelings, and needs.
  4. Validate: Let them know that their experiences, feelings, and thoughts matter and that they are not alone.
  5. Allow silence: Give them space to reflect, process, and integrate their insights and emotions.
  6. Be patient: Understand that healing and growth take time and that everyone’s pace is different.

The Pause “Feeler”: A Simple Practice to Hold Better Space

In our somatic coaching certification program, we teach our coaching students a process called “The Feeler”.  This practice is a powerful tool for holding space and creating an environment of safety and trust. 

If you are a coach, healer, or facilitator (or aspiring one), find a partner in your life to practice this with regularly, and watch as your space-holding skills skyrocket!

Here is “The Feeler” space-holding practice:

  1. Choose which partner will be holding space (Partner A) and which partner will be feeling  (Partner B).
  2. Partner A will set a timer for 3 minutes and instruct Partner B to begin.
  3. Partner B will tune in and begin processing their body’s experience. This can be through:
  4. Purging/venting all of the mind’s thoughts until nothing is left.
  5. Describing sensations in the body as they come and go.
  6. Sitting in silence.
  7. As Partner B goes through their experience, Partner A is present and holding unconditional love towards Partner B. Partner A is welcome to breathe, make encouraging hums, or offer sweet words. It is encouraged to work with silence as much as possible, though.
  8. At the end of the 3 minutes, Partner A will ask Partner B if they need 1 or 2 more minutes,  to which Partner B will say “Yes.” or “No, I feel complete.” If they say yes, begin another timer. At the end of the 1-2 minutes, Partner A will gently let Partner B know that the time is complete.
  9. Partner B will transition out of their experience. Partner A can offer a pop-out question,     which is a random and basic question (such as “What is your favorite color?”) to support     Partner B in returning to everyday life.
  10. If this is a two-sided feeler, Partner B will now begin a timer and repeat the process for     Partner A.

Tips for practicing holding space:

  1. Practice self-awareness: Be aware of your own biases, triggers, and limitations. Work on your own healing, growth, and self-care.
  2. Cultivate mindfulness: Develop a daily practice of mindfulness, such as meditation, breathwork, or journaling, to connect with your own inner wisdom and peace.
  3. Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from clients or participants on how you can improve your holding space skills.
  4. Learn from others: Attend workshops, trainings, or conferences on holding space, empathic listening, or emotional intelligence.
  5. Practice, practice, practice: Practice holding space with friends, family, or colleagues. Use every opportunity to cultivate the art of holding space.

Final Thoughts on Holding Space

Holding space is an essential skill for coaches, healers, and facilitators. It’s a way of creating a safe and supportive environment for others to express themselves, process their emotions, and find their own answers. It’s a way of being present, empathetic, and compassionate.

Holding space is not always easy, but it’s worth it. It requires practice, patience, and self-awareness. But the benefits are tremendous!

When we hold space for someone, we help them to heal, grow, and transform. We empower them to find their own path and to live their own truth. Holding space is the ultimate act of love.

When we can master this one skill, we can make a positive impact on the world and create spaces of healing and growth for ourselves and others.

If you are interested, we will gladly help train you in holding space, for yourself and for others, go over to our somatic coaching training for more information.

With love,

Samantha Skelly + The Pause Team

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