Browsing: Ericksonian psychotherapy

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Vacillating between emotional pain and the somatic relief of psychic numbing, Marie came to my office bewildered and in shock. Two weeks earlier a truck had crashed into a car in which Marie’s mother was riding. Although the truck driver had survived, Marie’s mother and her partner had instantly died.

“I don’t know how you can help,” Marie said, her tired eyes revealing her grief. “You can’t bring my mother back or help me make sense of my loss. I’ve always had faith in a divine spirit, in an afterlife, but now nothing seems right.”

Given the traumatic impact of Marie’s loss, how could I help?

Mind/Body/Spirit

Why, I wonder, is it so important for all of us to immerse ourselves in imagination? To understand our dreams and to see what is reflected back to us for application in the here and now? Whatever the reasons, I do know this: As insights elicited within the unconscious mind are utilized by the conscious mind, and absorbed into the body, a powerful collaboration takes place. When we immerse ourselves in the wise, creative artistry of soma and soul, we can find meaning.

Mind/Body/Spirit

When we set a purpose, i.e., a resolution, it’s absorbed in our inner mind and anchored in our body thus creating the most potential for follow through. People who visualize healthy lungs, imagine what it feels like to breathe fully and somatically anchors their intention for health are more apt to succeed in say smoking cessation or weight loss than those who simply make a statement.

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“These are difficult times.” One member noted during my mid-November stress management group. “Everyone is angry. People who used to be friends are not speaking. It’s giving me stomach aches.”

“I know!” Her couch mate said with sadness in her voice. “There are too many changes. I’m having migraines.”

Group members discussed their usual stressors—interpersonal conflicts, worries about children and grandchildren, work stress, a few health concerns—but on that fall morning I sensed a difference in their presence and in each person’s felt sense of his/her stress.

“Maybe it would help to talk about it,” said a group member settled in the rocking chair. “In times like these we all need support.”

Therapeutic Encounters

As a group therapist I witness member-to-member and member-to-leader interactions promote not only group cohesion but also psychosocial/emotional growth. By explaining how authentic face-to-face social interactions strengthen the functioning of the vagus system, improves social experience and tamps down sympathetic tone, the Polyvagal theory offers a glimpse into the somatic healing power of group dynamics.

Mind/Body/Spirit

Can you remember a time when someone said, “Can I tell you a secret?”

Were you intrigued? Did you feel a slight stirring inside? What sort of revelation did you prepare yourself to receive?

Isn’t it funny how images and connotations, interpretations and expectations can make the body respond in certain ways?

What do you experience in your own nervous system when you expect a client is about to reveal some secret traumatic event? How does your body physically react? With impulses, shivers, goose bumps? Perhaps a sense of dread and queasiness in the belly, a catch of your breath . . .? While such disclosures are often necessary and vital to treatment, there are also other secrets that can bring healing to soma and soul.

Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, simply and profoundly captures the point when he writes, “The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” This wise truth was delightfully demonstrated recently in a session with Neko, a twenty-two-year-old client with mild developmental delays, whose strength and soul wisdom had been hidden in the unlikely location of a traumatic past.

Mind/Body/Spirit

Have you experienced the pleasure of getting so close to your goal that you can almost taste success? Have you tasted the coppery flavor of fear or characterized an unpleasant experience as distasteful?

Disappointment can be bitter; revenge can be sweet and babies’ feet are delicious. Getting something you want at the expense of something else can be bittersweet, and romance can add spice to your life.

If capturing events and emotions in olfactory and gustatory terms heightens the felt sense of the feelings, why not make the yummiest emotions burst with metaphoric flavor?

Take happiness for example.

You most likely don’t need a formal definition of happiness since it can be argued that you know it when you feel it. But because happiness can occasionally slip by unrecognized, it’s worth knowing what the Dalai Llama says about this state of pleasure.

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.” His Holiness explains.