Elisa came to me a few days before a 10-day holiday with her 21-year-old son, Thomas. They had planned to explore Portugal’s local beaches, have time to relax and be together. But she felt uneasy, stressed about the trip. Her history was rather classic. She was divorced; had had a boy, an only child. As it often happens when parents separate, they share their feelings (verbally and non-verbally) with their children imposing their point of view on their children. And as happens with children in this situation, they learn quickly, if they don’t already know how, to play with their parents’ feelings and how to take advantage of the situation and turn things to their own benefit. Thomas was quite practiced at the art of manipulation. Furthering Elisa’s difficulties, her former husband had remarried and fathered two girls. Thomas demonstrated a clear loss of self-worth; he obviously was looking for an identity that he was not yet able to comprehend.
I am currently recruiting somatic therapists who have experience with hoarding disorder in their practice for my dissertation research. If this research does not apply to you, I would appreciate you sharing this information with relevant psychosomatic communities. Participants are asked to share their experience working with client(s) diagnosed with a form of hoarding (hoarding disorder or OCPD) using a narrative inquiry method of interviewing.
What is that mindful practice? Is it sufficient to just have a ‘mindful practice’, such as mediation, or yoga, or Focusing? It would probably help some, but it wouldn’t be enough to replace the specific practice of inserting the lens. The more intense the potential danger, the more our reactive circuits take over, bypassing the circuits that counterbalance reactivity. In other words: The more intense the potential danger, the more we need to train our mind to recognize that this specific danger is safer than it appears to us. Why am I calling this a ‘mindful practice’, as opposed to just ‘training’?
As the 18th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Steve Solcum offers his thoughts and feelings concerning the traumatic aftermath, personally and as a nation. I was blessed to write with Steve and offer a link to his current blog post.
Why am I writing an article on Virginia Satir over three decades after her death? Because I believe that whenever therapists are interested in healing others and using whatever “modern” techniques in their practice it is useful to acknowledge the fact that Satir’s teachings offered a gold mine of principles that might be of interest to themselves and their clients.
This is the first in a series of articles about the power of the pause in life and in therapy. In this article, I talk about why I am calling this kind of pause Active Pause, instead of just calling it a pause. In a nutshell, because the word ‘pause’ alone doesn’t do it justice. In everyday language, what we call a pause is a moment where activity is suspended, i.e. something that we associate with a blank as opposed to activity. I use the word ‘active’ to make the point that the pause is not just a ‘blank’ but an intentional rupture from the status quo, the flow of things as they currently are. Without rupture, there is no possibility of a breakthrough. If the pause were just a pause, in the ordinary sense of the term, what comes after it would be pretty much the same as what comes before it. But the value of the pause is that it allows for disruption, for the possibility of change.
John Chitty, RPP, RCST®, (1949-2019) had many passions in his work: The two-chair method (working with polarity and pendulation), babies, relationships, energy medicine, states of health versus pathology, and autonomic nervous system state change. He had advice for every occasion from personal tragedy to business practice. He told several stories over and over again, which clued me into things he was most passionate about. One of them was the following, stated in an adamant and sometimes outraged insistent tone: “I have people coming in here and telling me that they want to get to root of their trauma to be rid of it once and for all. Well, I don’t think that you need to get to the root of trauma; all you need is state change. (picks up hand and points at me) State change is the name of the game (inflection and repeated pointing with every word).” “Yes sir!” I’d say.
May I begin with personal history? Shortly after beginning my undergraduate studies in England, I became incapacitated with a moderately severe depression. I come from a working class background and could not afford therapy, but was fortunate enough to be taken into an experimental program run by the National Health Service and received a year of intensive psychoanalytic treatment. The results were profound.
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.
John Chitty, my teacher, mentor, supervisor, friend and fellow pilgrim-on-the-path, has transitioned to the “magical place” where his life began.He often said, “We are a unit of consciousness that comes from an invisible spiritual world to Earth for the purpose of gaining wisdom through experience.” He offered these words as a mantra, used whenever greeting a baby. And, I think, perhaps everyone he met. I imagine him back in that other realm having new experiences, gaining more wisdom.