Psychotherapy – UKCP accredited

“The snow goose  need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself” Lao Tzu

I am a humanistic and integrative psychotherapist with a strong leaning to working creatively and with the body. I use many modalities in a unique combination to suit you. I am a specialist in working with trauma and attachment issues. I assist you in releasing trauma from your body, from your muscles and nervous system as well as talking and helping with issues from the past.

Trauma

Peter Levine identified two kinds of trauma. Developmental Trauma and Shock Trauma.

When we are struggling with Developmental trauma it is often because in childhood we had to tolerate and manage very difficult circumstances. Maybe we were physically or sexually abused or maybe we were humiliated or shamed by emotionally abusive people in our lives. Sometimes we have been brought up with beliefs from our carers like ‘big boy’s don’t cry’ or ‘ good girls don’t shout’ and this forces us adapt our emotional states. Emotions become repressed or the feelings are so overwhelming that we have to disassociate.

Later in life, once the difficult circumstances have ended, the trauma often remains. The man may experience grief but cannot cry; he may find it difficult to go through the grief process. The woman who feels angry may not be able to express this and so find herself becoming a bit of a ‘doormat’. A person subjected to physical, sexual or emotional abuse may then find they have difficulty forming stable intimate relationships because they are re-triggered by the original circumstances.

This is the kind of difficulty associated with developmental trauma.

Shock trauma normally occurs during a single event. Sometimes someone has had an accident or experienced a shock hearing bad news, even witnessing the abuse of others can create shock trauma. Maybe the person was humiliated or bullied at school or in the home and then finds that this kind of situation keeps repeating itself in life and in the workplace.

When we go into trauma our bodies and minds experience what is happening in a different way to normal. After all, humans are animals – and like animals when we are shocked we go into a state of “fight or flight” or “freeze”.
In this very stressed state, the part of the brain which is responsible for processing emotions (amygdala) and the part responsible for recording time and place (hippocampus) stop working together so we can respond the this threat to our survival. Memories of this event may become scrambled or fragmented.

The need can be survival of the physical self or survival of the psychological self (or both). Later, when the trauma is re-triggered if we go into ‘flight’ may wish to run away, ‘fight’ we may become aggressive or ‘freeze’ we may become ‘paralysed’ in terror and be unable to act. We are responding to the present as if it were the past.

In trauma resolution we can use the techniques of titration – the process of going through the trauma very slowly to resolve it in the body – in the nervous and muscular system.

We can also use pendulation – the process of learning how to come in and out of the trauma to gain confidence in our ability to survive. I do this by working in many ways. By helping the body to release the muscle memory of the trauma and by helping the person feel safe in the here and now.

If you feel you would like to work in this way please feel free to contact me.
(For more information, try reading: Peter Levine’s ‘Waking the Tiger’ or Sue Gerhart’s ‘Why Love Matters’)

“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.

The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.”
― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma“

 

 Attachment

We all have expectations of our relationships. How we feel cared for as adults, both in relationships and in work is very related to how we grew up.
If we think back to when we were babies and children we can wonder about how we were cared for and responded to.
If we had a good experience where our needs were met, we were held gently, we were fed when we were hungry and we received sufficient mirroring in the form of smiles and positive reinforcement, then it is likely that our brain and our social awareness will have developed in such a way that we can look to our relationships and to the community we live in for support, that we are capable of enduring life’s ups and downs without over whelming trauma or distress. This is a sign of what is called secure attachment.
However, if our primary carers were unable to fulfil our needs then our attachment pattern becomes insecure. For example, if our mother or father is depressed, over anxious or aggressive or our family has too little resources. In this situation it is likely that the baby won’t receive the kind of care it needs in order to develop all of it’s fully socialising functions. Adults who have these insecure attachment patterns can have very low or unrealistically high expectations of others. The baby/child who does not receive enough mirroring may not form enough of a self to know or discover who they are, this can lead later in life to a lack of self worth, problems of identity or over-compensating behaviour.
Abusive early relationships can lead to an adult who often finds themselves in trauma in personal relationships or in the workplace. It can also lead to feelings of being very unfulfilled or feelings of isolation.
In psychotherapy we can learn new attachment styles. We can become more securely attached and understand ourselves better.  This gives us a chance to change our beliefs and deepen our self awareness, opening doors to a different future.

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