Reflections on learning through therapy

A couple of weekends ago I was privileged to share group supervision with my colleagues from my bioenergetic training group, and International Trainer Louise Frechette.  I had some thoughts prior to this weekend, and a lot of thoughts since then.  I’ll share more of the reflections later but for right now, I want to share a list of things that I learned through my personal therapy and my training.   Those two things are profoundly intertwined.  Bioenergetic training is predicated on doing your own work, for as many years as it takes, and so a lot happens while training.
Anyway, more about that later.  Right now, here are…..Ten Things I Learned In Training to be a Bioenergetic Therapist:

  1.  It is okay to make a mistake.
  2. It is okay to say “I made a mistake.”   Self-deprecation (“Oh, that was dumb…”)  does nothing for me or for anyone else.
  3. If god is watching me making my mistakes, she is certainly cheering me on rather than criticizing me.
  4. I don’t have to know everything.
  5. I do know something.
  6. When I can’t remember that I do know something, I can look again at the body.   The body will remind me of what I know.
  7. Some defenses are useful but only if you know when you are using them, and why.
  8. There is no point in hiding anything because whatever you are hiding is sitting right out there in the open in your body and your behaviour.   Who I am, who anyone is, is not a secret.  Except sometimes from oneself.  And then, I just have to open up to the possibility that I am deluding myself.
  9. I don’t have to do it alone.  In fact, I don’t have to do ANYTHING alone.   I can ask for help, and I can wait until support is available.   Things that are hard, overwhelming, and are too much for me can be challenging, stimulating, and enriching if the time is right, the resources are available, and I have support.
  10. I am just as okay as each of the people who come into my office.  I am just as okay as each of the people who have come into my life.  I am just as okay as my bioenergetic colleagues and my sister trainees.   It is okay to be who I am, and I can extend that welcome to others.

 

Imagine living life as if you are okay.  As if life is okay.  How about that?

 

Counseling or psychotherapy?

What’s the difference between counseling and therapy?  Often these two terms are used interchangeably.  However, I like to make a distinction between them.  Counseling is mostly about solving problems in the here-and-now, talking about concerns and getting another perspective on them.   If your issues are really situational and of brief duration, counseling might be best for you.  Psychotherapy, in contrast, helps you to look at your patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  It helps you to identify and then to develop ways to change the defenses that you may have had in place for a very long time.  If you have been chronically anxious, unhappy, or in trouble, or if you have a history of depression or anxiety, or you have a history of stress, trauma, or loss, then psychotherapy may be appropriate for you.

What I do in my practice…..

Beside the fact that I am trained as a bioenergetic therapist, I am also a licensed psychologist.  There are some problems in everyday life that I would especially like to help you with.

I am particularly interested in working with concerns around reproduction, especially from a woman’s point of view.    That would include fertility concerns, pregnancy loss, postpartum stress, adoption, and infertility treatment, just to start.

I also work with people who have traumatic histories.  Many reproductive issues are, in fact, traumatic, but other traumatic events can generate problems for people.

A third area of my practice is working with children ages six and under with a parent, who have experienced trauma or attachment disruption.  This model is called Child-Parent Psychotherapy, and is largely a home-based model of support, education, and intervention to support attachment between the parent and child and help both to resolve trauma.

Sometimes people just want to get more out of life.   Maybe this is you.  Everything in your life looks like it is fine but deep inside, you feel like you are missing something, or that the way things look is NOT the way that things are for you.  Therapy, especially body-mind therapy, can help with that.

Is there something I can help you with?  Some issue you want to talk about, or some concern that keeps coming up in your life?

Getting your money’s worth

Money, like our other resources, is important...make sure you get your money's worth out of therapy.

 

Why do people GO to therapy?

Generally, people begin because they are suffering.   They are experiencing emotional distress and would like some help with it.   Often, though,  once people start, they learn that therapy is a productive way to learn a lot about yourself.    The more you know yourself, know your thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, know your emotional stuck points and your hot buttons, the more freedom  you have in your life.   If I don’t know about my tendencies, about my defenses, about my patterns, then I am doomed to keep repeating and repeating them.   It is only through self-knowledge that I have any chance at all for creating a new life for myself.

You could argue that you don’t need a therapist to develop self awareness, and I would agree.  In fact, there would be no argument there!  But for many of us, we have a pattern of isolation and independence (“I can do this myself…I don’t need any help!”) that can lead to a lack of intimacy in relationships, or can be related to problems trusting other people.   Sometimes allowing ourselves to accept the support and the disinterested perspective of a therapist is a way to break out of a pattern in itself.

But suppose you have decided to start therapy.  What can you do to make the most of the experience?   Therapy isn’t like medicine;  you don’t just go for the hour every week and wait for it to work.     The more actively you involve yourself in your therapy, the more you’ll get from it.

Usually therapy helps you to see things in a different light.   This can be because of the experience of relating to another person in a different way, or because of hearing yourself say something in the presence of a caring other, or because of other experiential processes that happen during the therapy hour.  You can extend this shift by continuing to “process” during the week or weeks between sessions.  The following suggestions might be helpful to you.

  • Reflect on your session.  What have you heard or seen or done that was different for you?  Are there ways that you can bring this difference into your everyday life?  Even if you are not ready to make such a change, can you think about what it might be like if you were ready to do this?
  • Work on body awareness.
    •    Several times each day, take a moment to “check in” with your body.   Notice your energy level, your body sensations, any “felt sense” that arises in your awareness.  Notice any thoughts that are persisting.
    • Use body movement to help you identify what’s going on in your body.  Try grounding exercises,  or alternating vigorous movement with stillness to just see what’s up right now.
    • Journaling.   Handwrite about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Do this without allowing your inner editor to have a voice.  Just write.  This is for you, not for anyone else.
    • Process emotional material.  When you have an emotional response to something, take time to notice it, notice what you do with that response, and watch the consequences.   What was actually happening?   What can you know about how you felt, what you did or said?  Would you like to be able to think, feel, or behave differently in the future?
    • Accept that you are a work in progress, and so is everyone else.   See how close you can get to accepting things as they are, including other people just as they are, and yourself, just as you are.   Acceptance isn’t condoning and it also isn’t necessarily forgiveness, but it is a step that can allow you to relax into reality rather than struggling in resistance.

So…that’s a short list of some ways that you can get your money’s worth out of therapy.   What other tips do you have?

 

 

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