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The 7 Tools Approach to Psychotherapy
What is the Seven Tools Approach to Psychotherapy?
The Seven Tools Approach to psychotherapy is a set of concepts and skills that enable clients to connect with their own inner knowing and then utilize any material in their lives, unconscious or conscious, to create lasting change. Through the cultivation of compassionate accepting awareness, clients learn to witness themselves in a way that allows for the deep healing of the limiting beliefs that keep them stuck in painful patterns.
The Seven Tools inform a process of inquiry that can be applied to most any moment of introspection. It creates a non-prescriptive structure for the often nebulous therapeutic process for therapists AND clients without losing the depth of work associated with psychodynamic orientations of therapy. The Approach is a framework for understanding where the client is within the therapeutic process and a strategy for allowing the client's own inner knowing to shape the next question. This allows clients to continue their compassionate inquiry practice between sessions, too.
Its language can be easily learned by clients, thus allowing client and therapist to share a vocabulary of therapy and talk about what is happening in the therapy room. The approach focuses heavily on teaching the client real self-kindness and compassion, which supports them to feel safer sharing and integrating vulnerable information and uncomfortable feelings.
When your clients consistently practice the Seven Tools of Healing, they will predictably:
- get to know themselves better,
- find and correct limiting beliefs,
- live more within their own sovereignty,
- make more decisions that are more aligned with their higher good,
- have healthier relationships,
- have more rewarding careers,
- be more resilient to life’s inevitable stressors, and so forth.
In other words, they will have the concepts and skills they can choose to use to heal the wounds that keep them stuck in unhealthy patterns and clear the blocks standing between them and an authentic life.
Origin Story of the Seven Tools Approach
The Seven Tools Approach emerged as a therapeutic practice from a collaboration between physician Steven M. Hall, MD and his therapist daughter, Grace Porter, LMHC, LCPC. Over decades of watching his patience heal from “incurable” ailments, Dr. Hall got curious about what was allowing some people to heal while others remained stuck. Using a combination of the inquiry process he learned in Hypnotherapy training and his advanced Craniosacral Therapy bodywork practice, he began to witness people getting in touch with their own inner knowing. He then noticed that people’s inner knowing acted as a guide for returning to their natural state of health and wholeness. What people’s inner guides asked of them consistently boiled down to seven things. He began to call them The Seven Tools of healing.
Dr. Hall realized that while these Seven Tools would eventually emerge from people’s connection to their inner guides, they could also be taught. He began teaching the Seven Tools to his patients in their appointments and as a class he called Taming the Bear: Taking the Bite out of Stress. He has been teaching these Seven Tools to his patients for decades and together with his daughter, Grace, he has been teaching them to the general public for over 5 years.
Grace has adapted these ideas for use in a psychotherapeutic setting. She has been using them in session since 2009. Working together, they have transformed these ideas into The Seven Tools Approach to Psychotherapy and are now teaching them to therapists in various CE courses.
Why Incorporate the Seven Tools Method into my Practice?
- The Seven Tools approach gives you a teachable, relatable, succinct framework that is easy for your clients to understand. They learn to utilize their therapy more quickly.
- The approach teaches the process of Compassionate Inquiry that helps to illuminate unconscious limiting beliefs and allows them to change.
- The approach codifies a generally nebulous process, but does it in a way that is not a recipe for therapy, but rather is a set of concepts, skills, and strategies that can be applied to just about any issue a client comes in with.
- It encourages you to stay open and out of “fix-it” mode so that your clients can take ownership over their healing.
- The approach gives you strategies to find your footing when sessions feel stuck, chaotic, or overwhelming. It helps you come back to center, allowing you to ask better questions that get to the heart of the client’s experience and illuminate the root of the issue.
- It helps you navigate countertransference.
- When listening to a client’s story, the approach helps you:
- See where the energy is in their story,
- Determine which threads will lead the client deeper into their own understanding of themselves,
- See what beliefs are activated,
- See what of them is showing up in the present moment,
- See what is making this thing an issue for them now, and
- Identify the next best question to ask, (if one is even necessary).
Why I Love the Seven Tools approach as a Therapist
Grace here, I have been a therapist for over a decade (getting closer to 15 years!) and the Seven Tools Approach is one of my favorite things I use in the therapy room. I went to a grad school specializing in Depth Psychology and I LOVE the way I was trained to think and how I was trained to be with clients in the room but I found it was often hard to talk with clients about what was happening in the room in a way they could understand quickly using the Depth Psychology lexicon.
Depth Psychology is all about utilizing unconscious material and illuminating, examining, and changing (as needed) our underlying core assumptions. I have also taken extensive training on meditation and mindfulness, trauma, self-compassion, and so much more over the years.
It always feels to me that the real value of therapy lies in what I call the “ooey gooey process” and as a clinician, it helps to keep a foot or two on solid land while clients are deep diving into their psyches. And that is why I love the Seven Tools approach so much. It is a structure for facilitating the ooey gooey that keeps my feet, and sometimes even the client’s foot on solid land even when we get into really deep work. But the structure is just an inquiry process so in practice, the ooey gooey flows unhindered by the structure. It’s just a lovely way to conceptualize and move through what emerges in the session.
The feedback I hear from clients is that I ask amazing questions, that I always help them see to the heart of what is happening for them, that I hold space in a way that allows them to hold space for themselves, too. Much of that is informed by the Seven Tools and in turn, I’ve channeled that all back into the formation of the Seven Tools Approach to Psychotherapy.
I love leaning into the Approach when therapy is feeling stuck or stalled out because it helps us explore what is keeping us stuck. In those moments, resistance to the work is the work, amiright?
I love the Approach when people have a lot of story content attached to their feelings because it helps them drop into the heart of their experiences.
I love the Approach when people have long-standing patterns and the idea of changing them feels necessary and daunting at the same time.
I love the Approach when clients are struggling to allow themself to sit with what they are feeling. It makes even the most intimidating or overwhelming feelings approachable.
I love the Approach when clients are hard on themselves, because it helps them find compassion for themselves and their own experiences. And compassion creates a deeper ability to be with the hard stuff and, ultimately, compassion is the catalyst for change. Around here we call it the Alchemist for a reason!
I love the Approach because it is the most powerful way I know for enacting deep and lasting change. It allows people to become ever more their authentic selves as they clear away the blocks between their current moment and expression of that authentic self. And it builds the capacity to show up to life with courage, vulnerability, and authenticity.
I love the Approach because, with the Compassionate Inquiry process, clients learn to get curious about their experiences all week and the work happens as much out of session as it does in session.
I love the Approach because it isn’t about there being a right way to be, so much as an invitation for clients to become more and more who they truly are.
I love the Approach because it is so versatile. I use it while working with trauma. I use it while processing relational issues. I use it with codependency and boundary work. I use it when people are struggling at work, at home, with friends. I use it with anxiety and depression. I use it with eating disorders and addiction. I guess I should just say I probably use it in almost every session.
Where Do You Go from Here?
We are offering Continuing Ed courses for therapists. You are read more about current offerings below or get on our mailing list to hear about things as they happen.
CURRENT CE OFFERINGS
Date: December 8, 2022
Time: 11:55 am - 1:00 pm
Part of WMHCA's Lunch and Learn Series: Connectivity and Community
Humans are inherently social creatures and yet, so often we develop limiting beliefs that keep us from forming deep and fulfilling relationships. By discovering and changing the beliefs that block us, we can more easily access the vulnerability and authenticity we need to feel real connection to others. Our beliefs determine the way we see the world and our place in it. When we change our beliefs, we shift the way we interact in the world, including how we connect to ourselves and others. In this hour-long presentation we will introduce an easy to use system for uncovering and changing the limiting beliefs that keep us from fulfilling connection. The material in this course is helpful for therapists clinically and in their own lives.
Learn how The Seven Tools Method can be used for uncovering and changing the limiting beliefs that inhibit connection.
About the Presenter
Grace Porter, LMHC is a private practice psychotherapist and the co-founder of The Seven Tools. With over a decade of clinical experience, Grace utilizes a holistic approach to healing and believes in integrating mind, body, and spirit in order to help clients consciously reconnect to their soul's pursuits. She brings The Seven Tools of Healing to her work with clients, the classes she teaches, as well as practicing them in her own life.
Steven M. Hall, MD specializes in patients with treatment resistant chronic illness. His search for better ways to help these people led to uncovering The Seven Tools in the 1990’s. He is the author of The Seven Tools of Healing: Unlock Your Inner Wisdom and Live the Life Your Soul Desires and a co-founder of The Seven Tools, a teaching corporation dedicated to helping people with emotional intelligence, personal growth, and transformation.