Healing happens when you get out of the way: Jeff Foster

Here’s a Facebook post from Jeff, which beautifully captures much of how we see the intention in person-centred therapy. We believe this is a helpful and healing way for any of us to be with someone in crisis, although challenging (including to therapists) in a culture that brings an embedded fear of relationship, and normative values around advice, ‘fixing’ and ‘doing’, rather than ‘being’.

Here’s a link to Jeff’s page:-


and his website:-


Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

‘Healing happens when you get out of the way

Let people go through what they have to go through in the present moment! They are tired and they want to rest. They are exhausted from the fight, from the pretence and the lies, from having to hold everything in and hold everything together and hold everything up, and great waves of energy are now being released throughout their body.

Stay present with them. Waves of sorrow, hopelessness, fear, shame and guilt are surging now. Let the energies rise up, let their whole body vibrate and shake and quake if it must, let them wail, scream, roar, laugh, cry, shit themselves if they have to. Offer them nothing but the greatest gift of all: your fearless presence. Stay with them through each breath, each motion, in every moment. Hold their hand, but don’t try to fix them, change them, stop them experiencing what they are experiencing, or give them premature answers.

If you become uncomfortable, or feel like you want to rush in and ‘heal’ them, or ‘save’ them, or ‘fix’ them, or prevent them from feeling what they are feeling, or make everything ‘okay’ for them, own that – it’s your need, your discomfort, your fear, not theirs. Do not treat them like a victim or an invalid. Do not confuse them with who you think they are. Honour the power that moves in them; validate their experience totally. Trust the unpredictable intelligence of healing, and know that their ‘symptoms’ may get worse before they get better; energy may become more intense before it dies down. What appears now as chaos and disintegration may in fact be necessary release and intelligent reorganisation of a blocked system.

Sometimes our hearts need to break wide open so we are able to hold more life, more powerful love. Let your warm presence remind your friend of their own warm presence, so stable, so fearless, so free, so deeply rooted, grounded, here. Know that who they truly are cannot be broken, not by even the most intense energies, and cannot be fixed, and life never makes mistakes even when life seems like a mistake.

Love is all that matters. The rain falls, stars explode in silence somewhere out in the vastness of space, and here on this tiny planet someone called Earth, sometimes we meet and hold each other.’

Jeff Foster


This entry was posted in acceptance, actualizing tendency, core conditions, cultural questions, empathy, empowerment, fear, healing, human condition, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, Jeff Foster, love, non-directive counselling, person centred, relationship, sacred illness, sadness & pain, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, trust, vulnerability, working with clients and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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