Couple Armour: The Process of Melting Couple Armour through Body Psychotherapy

Sarah and David sit across from me. Their chairs are far apart and turned towards me. They escape eye contact by focusing on me. It’s our first session. Tension is evident and felt, in all senses. This is a well- known situation when couples start therapy that stems from normative embarrassment and difficulty seeking help. During our first conversation, I listen to them while trying to feel the energy and atmosphere in the room. I look inwards, feel my body, my breath. I resonate with myself and with them. The room feels cramped, stiff. There’s a sense of heaviness. The atmosphere is remote, and it seems cold. I notice that neither of them is breathing, and it affects my breathing, which also halts. Out of awareness and inner resonance, despite the tension I breathe deeply. I reflect to the couple: "There’s so much tension in the room," and then I take a deep breath again which allows Sarah and David to breathe as well, to release some of the difficulty, and start discussing what's in their hearts.

The Untethered Soul

I’ve worked with spiritual teachers for many years to “wake up”. The awakening that comes from listening to the division between parts of me—the voices and energies split during early wounding experiences to create the illusion of safety, to survive that which was emotionally experienced as insurmountable. I have learned to watch, to observe, to be the witness to my experience and not get caught up in it as if it were truly real. I’ve learned that what is, is and that so much of this lived life is merely an illusion. When reading Singer’s book I felt a kindred resonance, a sense of coming home to what I know but had stepped away from in the hustle and bustle of being Nancy in some chaotic times. I knew this book appeared in my life at that exact moment for a reason, a reminder to practice once again the meditative moments that bring me closer to the energy that is me and allow me to step away from the noise and confusion of patterned responses in a mind, a brain and a body that try to claim they’re me.

The body remembers: Saying #MeToo

It was reassuring hearing the title of Babette Rothschild’s book (Rothschild, 2000) all those years ago, recommended to me by my core process psychotherapist. ‘The body remembers’. Yes, it does, my body, turning towards me, nodding - suddenly engaging - a door opening inside. The body remembers. This body remembers, and what a journey it’s been – so far – in my body stepping through that door and in deepening my understanding of trauma and working with trauma in myself, with clients, with supervisees, and with trainees.

Connecting to Your Body for Wisdom

I have been with my partner for a few years and have grown to feel comfortable and welcome within the family. Until one morning that is, when I saw they had made plans for a family outing without including me in the decision-making process. No one asked for my opinion, my insights, my thoughts, nothing. I felt ignored, shut out, rejected. I felt like an outcast. These feelings, based on how I interpreted their actions, shocked my system. I doubted myself and how I experienced my relationships with these individuals. I tried to figure out why. I wondered, was I enough as a person to deserve feeling accepted by them in the past or was I wrong assuming they liked me and that I was accepted by them. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have a chance to fully process my experience in the moment. I had to pause to deal with other interactions happening around me. I managed to push the feelings of rejection down to look at later. Still in a bit of shock, I directed my attention to other things. Then, as life happens, I got distracted. I went about my day wondering why I felt cranky. There was no cheering myself up nor figuring out why I felt out of sorts; the reasons escaped me though the feelings entrapped me. I had pushed that painful moment down so far, I forgot about my pain. Yet I was cranky enough that even though my mind had dismissed the precipitating event, my body clung to the results. I wanted to be cheerful but there was no way to free myself from this cranky fog.

The Brilliant Gift of a Giggle

Can you remember a time when someone said, “Can I tell you a secret?” Were you intrigued? Did you feel a slight stirring inside? What sort of revelation did you prepare yourself to receive? Isn’t it funny how images and connotations, interpretations and expectations can make the body respond in certain ways? What do you experience in your own nervous system when you expect a client is about to reveal some secret traumatic event? How does your body physically react? With impulses, shivers, goose bumps? Perhaps a sense of dread and queasiness in the belly, a catch of your breath . . .? While such disclosures are often necessary and vital to treatment, there are also other secrets that can bring healing to soma and soul. Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, simply and profoundly captures the point when he writes, “The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” This wise truth was delightfully demonstrated recently in a session with Neko, a twenty-two-year-old client with mild developmental delays, whose strength and soul wisdom had been hidden in the unlikely location of a traumatic past.

The Body Sends a Message: Hungry for Health

In therapy, I believe our work is to support our clients as they and we enliven the places in imagination where we consciously and unconsciously create and cultivate visualizations vital for healing—specific images and sensations that are less apt to trigger distressing images but rather become integrated as components of recovery and healing. As we work within the psyche’s realm of awareness to re-envision scenes that support mental health and wellbeing, healing light becomes available when the darkness of harsher images from a terrifying past invades the mind and the body. Indeed, the recent tragic loss in Bev’s extended family had brought forth just such –a cascade of painful emotions, restless insomnia, anxious anhedonia, and a flare of her osteoarthritis.need for warmth and healing peace, Bev is learning how to confidently summon these images. However, for survivors of abuse like Bev, darker, more troubling pictures arise in the mind, unbidden and unwelcomed these images disturb their tranquility, knock them off balance.

The Proactive Twelve Steps

The Proactive Twelve Steps offers readers a way to develop a deeper understanding of behavioral change, codependency, stress, and trauma, as well as look at neuroscience and the Polyvagal Theory and their impact on our physiology and behavior. Serge presents a clear roadmap for self-compassion and mindful self-discovery and provides specific step-by-step instructions within a broader context that helps readers make sense of the healing process.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is trending. It’s been on the forefront of conversations in terms of Western therapeutic methodologies since Jon Kabat Zinn integrated it into his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in the early 1980s. Today, mindfulness practices are at the heart of many psychotherapeutic approaches such as: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT); acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); dialectical behavior therapy (DBT); mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP); mindfulness-based trauma therapy (MBTT); and mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT). The word itself, however, is often confused. Its meaning subjectively associated with who or what entity is promoting its use. There’s clearly a difference between Eastern approaches to meditation and mindfulness and the current Western emphasis. With the proliferation of modalities integrating components of meditation and mindfulness practice, this book is a welcome addition to Hogrefe’s Advances in Psychotherapy: Evidence Based Practice Series—noted as Volume 37.

Change the Story of Your Health

Shamanism and Jungian analysis—the transpersonal realm and the unconscious. As George Hogenson, PhD, notes, Carl Greer offers “A remarkable melding of Jung’s analytical psychology and the ancient, and global, traditions of shamanic healing . . .” in his newest book, Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing.

Hiding In: Embodied Spirituality Embedded in the Body

There is a special place inside the body—a deep and peaceful place—that is accessible through any one of a number of modalities, including relaxation, mindfulness or hypnosis. Years ago I immersed myself in experiential techniques incorporating mindfulness, mind-body work, and meditation. I wanted to add a layer to my psychotherapy practice in order to reach my clients in new ways. It seemed to me that experience, more than talk, could be key to actually shifting self-deprecating perspectives and negative life patterns. I was amazed to see how bringing these techniques into therapy transformed the experience for many of my clients rather quickly: they moved from anxiety and depression into a space of calm and confidence. Happiness and comfort now came easily and readily to clients who could not previously access them. The experience inside the body and mind became unified, giving rise to a new, fresh sense of aliveness.
4,830FansLike
985FollowersFollow

Recent Posts