Holding space for someone in counseling or spiritual direction means to be with that person without “doing anything” that might be construed as intervention—not responding verbally, but with full attention on the moment the person is in.
For example, if in a therapy or spiritual direction session, the client/directee says something profoundly honest that shatters through their defenses of denial, it might be a good time to hold space. The therapist or spiritual director rather than commenting on the honesty, rather than querying further, rather than suggesting anything, just remains in the moment, gently letting the power of the truth do the work. The therapist or spiritual director “holds the space” silently and attentively, while the work is being done in and through and around the client.
Eventually it will be time to talk again, but being able to hold space for another person during a time of great inner movement and transformation is one of the most powerful things a therapist and spiritual director can do.
In order to be able to hold space for another, it's helpful to do one's own inner work so the need to jump in and fix or to fill the empty space with words is recognized as coming from within rather than coming from a need for the client. When you can hold space for your own inner issues, it becomes easier to hold space for another. Then you aren't triggered into an automatic stimulus-response for another person.
Holding space is also a technique in energy healing, but because in energy healing there’s less talking overall than in therapy or spiritual direction, it can be hard to notice when “holding space” is happening and it can look a little different, too.
When I hold space for a client, it often comes towards the end of a session. I’ve done everything I feel I’ve been guided to do and there’s still time left. So, I will simply “hold space.” What I do, is back away from the body, moving out to the outer energy fields and hold my hands up, connecting with whatever field I am guided to touch. I will not actively try to do any healing work, but just maintain my connection with the client’s overall energy. I will also go into a more focused, altered state, connecting with my own divine-centered core star. In this state I consciously feel all the love, joy, and peace I can. This usually leads to a bliss-filled awareness that I hold, while staying connected to the client’s outer energy fields.
If you’re new to being an energy healer, holding space can be a good technique to use when no other technique is coming to mind to use. It’s not “doing nothing.” It’s a powerful technique that is focused yet expansive, that creates space for energy movement and transformation that may be beyond our comprehension. It can also be a way for you as an energy healer to receive new guidance when you’re not sure what to do next. By putting yourself into a “holding space” mindset, your own energy opens up and therefore, this alone may help you receive additional information for the client.
When in doubt, hold space!
When needed, hold space!
When finished, hold space!
When guided, hold space!
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Monica McDowell is a dynamic speaker, author, and practitioner in alternative wellness and spirituality. Find her on Thought Catalog here.She is the author of The Girl with a Gift, Confessions of a Mystic Soccer Mom, You are Light (internationally published by 6th Books in over 14 countries) and My Karma Ran Over My Dogma,and has the distinction of being the first ordained minister in America granted civil rights by a federal ruling. She lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and can be reached at