Tolerance. Three short syllables. Often a whole heap of energy required! There are some things in life that shouldn’t be tolerated: bad relationships, bad jobs, bad political systems. But sometimes knowing what we can tolerate – and what’s too much – is vital to keeping going. It’s for this reason that Dan Siegel’s Window of Tolerance model is such a valuable part of theory – and why it’s part of every session, nay every conversation, I hold space for.
In brief, the Window of Tolerance model is the idea that when we’re functioning we are “inside” our window of tolerance (the pale green area above).
When we’re in hyper arousal (often seen as wailing or other common “distress” signs) or hypo arousal (total shut down – to the extent of becoming catatonic) we’re not functioning – and therefore not processing.
And when we’re at the edge of our Window of Tolerance (the dark green) this is when growth can happen. We’re close enough to our Window of Tolerance, our “comfort zone” that we stay functioning and processing. But we’re pushing right to the edge of the boundary – maybe tackling an unresolved issue through receiving therapeutic Touch.
As you’ll see, staying in the edge zone, and not “flipping” into either the comfort zone or a state of arousal that prevents us from functioning is essential for productive therapy, for sustainable change. This post provides just a very high level taste of the Window of Tolerance but you can find a full description, including how to use it clinically, in our FREE Bodywork Essentials resource. Click here to access (although designed for professionals, you may well find these resources helpful as a client, too).