Counselling Twickenham, Whitton I work with:
counselling for depression
counselling for anxiety
survivors of rape
Or email me first
The Brain: Episode 1 - What is Reality? Daniel Eagleman (Youtube/BBC)
The Brain: Episode 2 - What Makes Me, Me. Daniel Eagleman (Youtube/BBC)
The Brain: Episode 5 - Why Do I Need You? Daniel Eagleman (Youtube/BBC)
The Brain: Episode 6 - Who Will We Be? Daniel Eagleman (Youtube/BBC)
The Structure and Function of the Brain
The Limbic Region: the Emotional the Brain
The Structure and Function of Neurons
Also look up these videos by Daniel Eagleman on Youtube
Traditional approaches to counselling usually focus on the psychological symptoms of mental illness – such as talking through the client’s story and commenting on their unconscious patterns of behaviour. Or helping them resolve emotional disturbance, unwanted thoughts and conflict in relationships. This approach can lack focus on a person's overall wellbeing. And also misses the fact that the anxious brain is often responded first to sensory stimuli and stress hormones in the body, long before we have any conscious thoughts about it. However, as a relational psychotherapist I help you understand yourself as an integrated whole – looking at how your bodily sensations inform your emotions and thoughts. How unconscious drives can trigger deeply embedded patterns of behaviour. And how attachment styles in childhood can affect how you learn to self-regulate your emotions as an adult.
Conditions such as stress, fear, anxiety and trauma are all caused by the way our mind and body is affected by the environment. The mind is not separate from the body, but interconnected through our nervous system and the brain. Sensorimotor psychotherapy focusses on the effects of anxiety, depression and trauma on the body, which in turn facilitates emotional awareness, thought processing and instinctive patterns of behaviour. This method of counselling is particularly effective for working with your internal reactions to psychological states such as obsessive thinking, screen-playing, avoidance, destructive impulses, dissociation and emotional reactivity. All stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline are triggered by our sensory interaction with the world around us and interactions with other people.
During this article I aim to emphasize how sensorimotor techniques can be integrated with counselling to that treat these symptoms. Because the therapist's ability to interactively regulate clients' dysregulated states and also to cultivate clients' self-awareness of inner body sensations is crucial to this approach, three sessions are described illustrating the clinical application of this method.
Sensorimotor psychotherapy (Psychotherapy Twickenham) is a method for helping clients to process heightened states of emotion, traumatic memories, defensive reactions and self-destructive behaviours in relationships. It helps clients become much more aware of their internal process, establishing safety and self-care routines, improving wellbeing and how to regulate distress, as well as developing new patterns of constructive behaviour and interacting in relationships. These psychological and sensorimotor techniques consist of teaching clients to become more aware of the sequential physical and sensory patterns - involving states of arousal in autonomic nervous system, how to reprocess traumatic memories and defensive responses, or seeking to resolve problems with adaptive behaviours.
During a state of anxiety, panic, depression or trauma the brain and body goes into survival mode such as fight-and-flight, freeze, avoidance or withdrawal. When a client is at their most vulnerable they may be plagued with excessive worrying, disproportionate health concerns, dissociative states, intrusive thoughts, images, sounds, smells or bodily sensations such as breathlessness, heart dysregulation, physical pain, constriction, numbing or the inability to regulate levels of arousal.
These dysregulated states not only condition your emotions and cognitive processing, but also often disrupt a person's ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, problem solve or accurately attune themselves to the emotions of other people. For example, a belief such as "I am helpless" or “I am irrational” may interrupt sensorimotor processes of active physical defence and prevent them from using appropriate boundaries to protect themselves or even say “no” to stand up for themselves. An emotion such as fear may cause physiological processes such as arousal to escalate to the point of overwhelming panic. In the case of trauma, a smell or feeling may trigger a reminder of the traumatic experience, which is perceived as a flashback or reliving of the trauma. This is why I propose that sensorimotor processing interventions can help you regulate emotional and cognitive processing, as well as address how you interact with others and experience their emotions in relationships. This teaches you skills such as greater self-awareness, emotional regulation, processing memories and new strategies for managing your experiences, which is essential for change, healing and recovery to occur.
I will help you learn how to pay attention and attune to your five senses, your motor impulses, muscular tension, posture, facial expressions, stress response, breathing and cardio-vascular system. Gaining insight into this "felt sense" of the world will help you to react more proportionately, trust your instincts and validate your own experiences without having to rely on others approval or depend entirely on their support.
However, many people are often brought up without ever learning how to adequately self-regulate or acquire the tools to do this. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have learned them somewhere along the line. I am a firm believer in the client’s ability to utilise their own coping mechanisms and survival strategies, rather than replace them with readymade techniques they cannot resonate with. It is usually simply a matter of modifying, adjusting and tweaking them to become more effective. In counselling Clients are taught how to distinguish between physical sensations and unconscious reactions, cultivating a stronger sense of awareness learning to tolerate their heightened states of emotion as they fluctuate in quality and intensity until the sensations themselves have become regulated and stabilized. One of the first things you will learn is how to develop a sensorimotor body map to identify, observe and monitor or trach you bodily sensations as they are triggered in specific situations, events or interactions in relationships. Use the body map diagram below and carry out participant-observer experiments with yourself paying particular attention to your internal sensations and five senses – for example noticing your bodily responses to working in the office and locating the source stress such as back pain, muscle tension, headaches, dehydration, hunger, lethargy, avoidance, dissociation and under-breathing. Or noticing how you respond to intimacy such as freezing, avoidance, feeling disconnected, numb or withdrawing into yourself, or how you respond to conflict such as tension, panic, breathing difficulties, heart palpitations, stammering, screen-playing and playing out worse-case scenarios.
This will help you pause, step back and deactivate high levels of arousal or stress that cause you to react impulsively or with a flat, numb sense of disconnection. And it will encourage you to be more assertive, establish appropriate boundaries, create a sense of calm and deal with situations in a clearer state of mind.
How to use the somatic-sensory and motor-sensory body map:
During a specific situation or interaction draw your attention to noticing/observing what sensations are triggered. And the location or region of the body you experience a particular sensation or feeling – such as the heart, lungs, stomach, gut, legs, shoulders, neck muscles, skull, vertebrae, ligaments, eyes, mouth, ribcage, joints etc.
Draw an arrow to it in the body map diagram and label that part of the body you have identified.
Underneath briefly describe that sensation or feeling – such as breathlessness, light-headed, exhausted, calm, peaceful, hot, perspiring, dehydrated, acid reflux, muscle tension, trembling, pain, pleasure, elation etc.
A brief description of the event, situation or interaction which triggered these sensations.
Do this for a number of situations as you continue to experiment and explore your sensations throughout the days and weeks.
Eventually begin to use and record a number of techniques to relieve the physical symptoms of stress – calming, meditation, breathing, stretching, yoga, exercise, walking, martial arts, boxing, swimming, grounding techniques etc.