Dropping Anchor: A Script
In the ideal scenario, before starting this exercise, you’ve asked the client what she’s experiencing and
she’s been able to tell you what thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories are showing up; this means
you can refer to them specifically. For example: “There’s a very painful memory showing up right now,
and a lot of sadness and a lot of anger.” But if the client is too distressed to speak, or unable or
unwilling to say what thoughts and feelings are present, then you can refer to them with non-specific
terms such as “pain” or “painful thoughts and feelings”, or “emotional storm”, as in the script that
• There’s something very painful or difficult showing up for you right now. I can see how much
you’re struggling with it; how difficult it is for you. And I really want to help you handle it. So
please would you follow my instructions?
• Okay. First, just see if you can push your feet hard into the floor. Push them down. That’s it. Feel
the ground beneath you.
• Now sit forward in your chair, and straighten your back. Feel the chair beneath you; notice your
back supporting you.
• Now slowly press your fingertips together, and as you do that, gently move your elbows and
• Feel your arms moving, all the way from your fingers to shoulder blades.
• Take a moment to acknowledge there’s a lot of pain here that you’re struggling with … you
didn’t ask for it … but here it is … and it’s challenging and it’s difficult and you want it to go away,
and yet it’s not going … Silently acknowledge to yourself what type of pain it is … For example,
say to yourself “Here’s sadness” or “Here’s anxiety” or “Here’s a painful memory” (If the therapist
knows what the pain is, he can specifically mention it.)
• Now notice that as well as this pain, there’s also a body around that pain – a body that you can
move and control.
• Straighten your back again, and notice your whole body now – your hands, feet, arms, legs –
gently move them, and feel them moving … Have a good stretch … Notice your muscles
stretching … Press your feet down and feel the floor.
• Now also look around the room – up down, and side to side – and notice five things that you can
• And also notice three or four things you can hear – sounds coming from me or you or the room
• And also notice you and I, working here together, as a team.
• So notice, there’s something very painful here that you’re struggling with, and at the same time
see if you can also notice your body in the chair … and gently move that body, have a stretch…
that’s it, take control of your arms and legs.
• And also notice the room around you.
• And also notice you and I here, working together as a team.
This goes for as long as needed until the client is grounded. The therapist brings the exercise to an
end by asking questions such as:
• Do you notice any difference now? Are you less caught up in the emotional storm? Are you less
hooked by these difficult thoughts and feelings? Are you less ‘swept away’ by the storm? Are you
less ‘pushed around’ or “jerked around by these feelings?
• Is it easier for you to engage with me, to be present, to focus?
• Do you have more control over your actions now – over your arms and legs and mouth? Check it
out, move your arms and legs, have a stretch; do you notice you have control?
© 2017, Russ Harris www.ImLearningACT.com