Witness: A Civil War Experience From a Child’s Perspective

The story shares how, at eight years of age, Quanei Karmue was living the American Dream in the sun-swept country of Liberia. His father was away on an extended business trip to solidify the family’s fortune, and he and his siblings were left in the care of their mother, a respected nurse, pharmacist, and leader in their close-knit community, a suburb where all the women were called “Auntie” and all the men “Uncle.” As a curious child, Quanei thought he had perfected his stealth and spying skills. He was drawn to adult conversation — he knew that was where you learned what was really going on in the world.

Rewiring the Addictive Brain

In her latest publication, Rewiring the Addictive Brain, Dr. Laurel Parnell convincingly responds: combine EMDR to reprocess and clean things up and use resource tapping—a combination of positive imagery that activates positive resources internally and bilateral stimulation that serves to link this information together. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful therapy for handling trauma (small and big).

Polite versus Honest

Do you tend to be a polite person living in constant state of anxiety or stress and tension? I catch myself in this place more often than I would like. My shell of politeness was so chronic that I used to get cramps in my cheeks from smiling at events and gatherings. Even in situations where I might have liked to tell someone off or just walk away, I smiled. My cheeks hurt even more. I was being the ‘good girl’ I was supposed to be all the while hating the fact that I could not have boundaries.

It Takes Courage to Stay in the Shy Moments

By Hadi Bahlawan Marcher  and Lene Wisbom A man enters a party with many new faces; to join in, to connect with these unfamiliar faces,...

An Integrative Approach to Treating Babies and Children

Babies and children can often be our greatest teachers in life. They remind us of our deep human connection to each other and to the world. An Integrative Approach to Treating Babies and Children, edited by John Wilks, persuades us to listen to everyone’s own “baby history.” In other words, Wilks has us look into the history of our birth in order to have a greater understanding of its effects on our adult life. Wilks suggests in the introduction that, “One of the major themes in this book is that it is much more important for us to create the right space in ourselves and in our clinic setting to work with babies rather than what we ‘do’ to a baby” (16).

Transformative Moments: Short Stories from the Biodynamic Psychotherapy Room: Touch and Betrayal

From an object-subject relationship point of view, we should never underestimate how challenging it might be for a body-mind system that has been betrayed by humans to trust humans again—to trust the object ‘human’ and to authentically experience that this subject is safe.

Corporeity in Psychotherapy

I wondered a few years ago how it might be possible that the fetus could know "the flavour of the relationship with the mother" while immersed in a liquid environment, given that the introduction of sweet substances into the amniotic fluid led to an increase in deglutition (swallowing), while the intro- duction of bitter substances led to a reduction. I believe the answer lies in Ludwig Jacobson's (1813) vomeronasal organ, which is situated just above the incisors and is capable of transducing the aroma of substances in liquid solutions into taste in the embryonal-fetal period. This organ atrophies after birth, but, during our intrauterine time, it permits us to know the flavor of the primary object relationship, which is ‘a mirror taste’, which is to say that it already informs us of a primary intercorporeity that may prepare the ground for later subjectivity and intersubjectivity, and even psychopathology. This sense of a primary intercorporeity lead me to consider corporeity’s place in general in psychotherapy and how it interacts with what I consider to be the two main ingredients in the psychotherapeutic setting, namely the relationship (between therapist and client) and therapeutic embodied activation. What is Corporeity in Psychotherapy?

Who’s Calling the Shots?

People often find themselves stuck in emotional states where they feel unhappy, anxious or depressed. They know what they feel but they are unaware of their own behavioral patterns that keep them immobilized there. Over and over they focus on their frustrations; they wish things were different. They wait for the bad feeling to go away. The more they focus on their frustrations, however, the more they find themselves stuck. They ask themselves, "What in the world is going wrong? Why won't it change?" They continually repeat the same behaviors with the same results. For me, I ask, "Who’ calling the shots?" Too often the answer is the neurology and hormonal chemistry of a child or adolescent who did not get recognition, confirmation, or encouragement. This youngster did not have a parent or guardian who knew how to provide a healthy role model of how to handle difficult, compromising situations. These youths saw inappropriate models or none at all. They did not necessarily feel safe or protected. As a result, they developed coping mechanisms that were the best they could manage for their age, knowledge, and resources. Often these coping mechanisms were the same as those of the parent with whom they used to identify —their dominant role model. These patterns are evolved or are created during developmental times when intellectual ability is not fully developed, when knowledge of situations is limited, when freedom of choice is restricted, and when alternatives are not available. These coping mechanisms then generalized to other situations; as time went by, when challenging, threatening, or hurtful events presented themselves, these environmental stimuli triggered the learned psychophysical protective coping mechanisms from deep in the unconscious mind. Those somatic-emotional patterns habitually, and quite automatically, jumped out and took charge. Their familiarity overrode any conscious awareness of either their happening or their origin. One might even have an intellectual sense of this pattern but the pressure is on and when push comes to shove the patterns are reenacted without the ability to control them. Let me share some examples with you.

Healing Adverse Early Experiences Moves Beyond “Keeping Score” In the Body

Early experiences that influence adult disease are not just in childhood; they begin in the womb. Our earliest pioneers of fetal origins of adult disease such as David Barker, MD, PhD and Peter Nathanielsz, PhD revealed that nutrition, geographic location, stress, and the environment all have an effect on the baby in the womb. The study of the baby’s experience of conception, pregnancy, birth and attachment also create patterns of distress that may last a lifetime. What do these patterns look and feel like? How can we help our babies and their families, and the professionals who support them?

Safety in Therapeutic Interactions: A Polyvagal Influence

My journey involves a deep and prolonged exploration of the Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2011). In my quest to understand when intimacy, emotional expression, and connected communication are possible, I delved deeply into Porges’ research with the vagus nerve and its role in the evolution of the nervous system. His insights provided a road map for me and my clients to a fuller emotional life as we connected with our interoceptive awareness of emotions that motivate our behavior, their influence on our relationships, and the conscious choices we have.
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