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.
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
* Have a dialogue with
another “part” of your psyche.
* Tense, move or relax
your body in a specific way.
* Slow down, be quiet or
* 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
This is an integrative
psychotherapy approach that contains elements of many effective psychotherapies
such as psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and
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.
stop you during a session and say something like, “Please stop talking and
simply follow my fingers.”
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
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.
sensorimotor reactions condition emotional and cognitive processing, often
disrupting your ability to think clearly or to glean accurate information from
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
The Relaxation Response
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.