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                     The Mind/Body Connection

In the past few years, the relationship between the mind and the body has been explored through extensive scientific research. Buddhist philosophy and ancient yoga practice have found compatible ground with neurobiology and modern psychotherapy.  We now know as fact that when there is a conscious connection between the brain and the body, more profound change and healing can take place. 

In my practice, I am always looking for the most up-to-date methods to help you to recover from trauma and heal your past.  There are special moments during your session when it might be appropriate for you to take a breath, be fully in the moment, move your body, or experience some right/left stimulation between the opposing hemispheres of your brain.  These connections with your muscles, organs, and even the cells of your body can stimulate “below the neck” changes that will enhance your therapeutic experience.

I invite you to give me your permission to allow me from time to time to instruct you to do things like: 

 *    Move from where you are sitting.

*     Have a dialogue with another “part” of your psyche.

*     Breathe.

*     Tense, move or relax your body in a specific way.

*     Slow down, be quiet or meditative.

*     Scan your body for thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories and beliefs.

*     Move your eyes from side to side following my fingers before your face.



Following is some more detailed information about these methods
that I might employ during our sessions...








Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
 

This is an integrative psychotherapy approach that contains elements of many effective psychotherapies such as psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies.
 

EMDR is an information re-processing approach to address the experiential contributors of a wide range of pathologies. It attends to the past experiences that have set the groundwork for pathology, the current situations that trigger dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations, and the positive experience needed to enhance future adaptive behaviors and mental health.  

One of the procedural elements is "dual stimulation" using either bilateral eye movements, tones or taps. During reprocessing you may attend momentarily to past memories, present triggers, or anticipated future experiences while simultaneously focusing on a set of external stimulus, such as following the back and forth movements of my fingers before your eyes.

During that time you may experience the emergence of insight, changes in memories, or new associations.
  Sometimes if we can sensitively capture the moment, we can begin to create more balance between the left and right hemisphere. 

I might stop you during a session and say something like, “Please stop talking and simply follow my fingers.”



Sensorimotor Psychotherapy  

Trauma of any kind profoundly affects the body, and many symptoms of traumatized individuals are somatically based. Unassimilated somatic (body) responses evoked in trauma involving both arousal and defensive responses are shown to contribute to many PTSD symptoms.
 

There are instances in therapy when your body is trying to tell us something. Profound change may take place if we process thoughts and emotions by accentuating a movement that your body is calling for.
 

By using the body (rather than just cognition or emotion) as a primary entry point in processing trauma, we can treat the effects of trauma on the body, which in turn facilitates emotional and cognitive processing.
 

We want to cultivate your self-awareness of inner body sensations in order to help you heal and develop more adaptive, self-regulating responses to your current life.
  During a traumatic event such a satisfactory resolution of responses might be accomplished by successfully fighting or fleeing.  However, for the majority of us, this does not occur. 

We are often plagued by the return of dissociated, incomplete or ineffective sensorimotor reactions in such forms as intrusive images, sounds, smells, body sensations, physical pain, constriction, numbing and the inability to modulate arousal.
 

These unresolved sensorimotor reactions condition emotional and cognitive processing, often disrupting your ability to think clearly or to glean accurate information from emotional states. 

Conversely, cognitive beliefs and emotional states condition somatic processing. For instance, a belief such as "I am helpless" may interrupt sensorimotor processes of active physical defense; an emotion such as fear may cause sensorimotor processes such as arousal to escalate.
 

I might ask you for example, to exaggerate a motion of an arm or leg that seems to want to push or pull.




The Relaxation Response  

The fight/flight/freeze response is an automatic reaction in which the body prepares for combat or escape from potentially dangerous situations, animals, or people.  Your pupils may dilate, palms sweat,  hair bristle,  breathing rate quicken,  the torso might square for battle or angle away for flight. (Causing some lower back pain).  You may involuntary stop body movement entirely. 

This ancient sympathetic nervous system response pattern can released hormones from the adrenal gland, preparing an alarmed animal to chase-and-bite, or to turn-tail-and-flee.
  The “amygdala” in your brain contains a "fear center" which can activate this reaction.   

Engaged far too often when your primitive brain feels threatened, we can learn to regulate this by engaging the para-sympathetic nervous system through conscious breathing and relaxation of muscles.   In almost all contemplative practices there is an initial use of the breath as a focal point in which to center the mind’s attention.   



Mindfulness  

Being able to be fully present in the moment (aware of the flow of energy and information within yourself) leads to improvements in immune function, an inner sense of well-being, and your capacity for rewarding interpersonal relationships.
  Without compassionate observation of yourself, the brain is predisposed to create more suffering by amplifying the intensity of your pain. 


This is all the
difference between intensifying the distress versus coming to feel your pain without suffering. ( This relates to your awareness of what I call the “Dark Angel” voice in your psyche… the thoughts that blame, criticize, ignore, or belittle you.)   When I interrupt your thought process, you may become more aware of sensations, images, perceptions, memories, and feelings. 

You may come to see these “rational” activities of the brain as just waves on the surface of the mental sea.  From this deeper place within your mind, this internal space of mindful awareness, you can just notice the brain waves at the surface as they come and go.  This capacity to disentangle oneself from the chatter
of the mind, to discern that these are “just activities of the mind,” is liberating—and for many, revolutionary.  At its essence, this discernment is how mindfulness may help alleviate suffering.  

In developing this internal connection with yourself, within the safety of our relationship as client and therapist…you can create the secure attachment you should have experienced as a child.   When relationships between parent and child are “attuned,” a child is able to “feel felt” by a caregiver and has a sense of stability in the present moment.  During that here-and-now interaction, the child feels good, connected, and loved. 

The child’s internal world is seen with clarity by the parent, and the parent comes to resonate with the child’s state. This is attunement.  
 

Over time, this attuned communication enables the child to develop the regulatory circuits in the brain including the integrative prefrontal fibers that give them a source of resilience as they grow.  This resilience takes the forms of the capacity for self-regulation and engaging with others in empathic relationships.