Experiences of the step-out technique in emotion-focused therapy for clients with autistic process

Robinson, Anna and Kalawski, Juan Pablo (2023) Experiences of the step-out technique in emotion-focused therapy for clients with autistic process. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 22 (3). pp. 265-282. ISSN 1477-9757 (https://doi.org/10.1080/14779757.2022.2115941)

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Lower levels of experiential processing are associated with poorer therapeutic outcomes. Clients with autistic process are reported to experience sensory-body awareness processing problems which is recognized as an interoception marker. The Step-Out is a simple bodily technique, used within the Alba Method, to achieve an emotionally neutral, relaxed, and alert state. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of clients with autistic process with the Step-Out. Eleven clients learned and spoke about the technique. A thematic analysis of clients’ responses produced an overall theme “In sensing me to connecting to you.” This contained three broad themes: In-and-out of interoceptive contact, letting go of tension and beyond self-experience. Clients were able to verbally describe their internal sensations and perceptions following the task. Responses ranged across an experiential continuum from emotional overwhelm, to no felt change to experiences of relational connection. Preliminary findings provide promising support for the utility of the Step-Out as a mini experiential task to help clients with autistic process shift their attention from an externalized to an internalized process, and to recognize, express, and regulate their internal states. Findings are tentative due to the exploratory nature, limited participants, and lack of assessment measures.