Creating a working relationship between us, where you feel that you have come to “the right place” and feel understood, supported, and helped in a competent manner — is the foundation. I convey my respect for your beliefs, feelings, knowledge of yourself and your decisions. As you tell me about yourself and express your needs and goals, I check with you to make sure I understood and then provide as much information as possible about how the issues can be treated, how can healing happen. This inspires realistic hope and motivation for the changes to be made.
Impacting the different dimensions of our being requires that we sometimes shift our state of consciousness to access the dimension we are working with. For example, in healing past trauma and inner conflicts it is often useful to access subconscious aspects with the help of guided imagery. Whereas in exploring bio-chemical impacts on mood, energy, resilience, we use rational, scientific states of mind.
At first, to understand the goals, problems, available strengths, and to plan treatment, we will work through a scientific lens. Though here too, creative and intuitive modes will also come into play.
To then effect the changes you desire, the modalities will vary greatly depending on what is needed, and your preferences. We may use a skills-building practical modality; or use methods to gradually change bad habits and acquire good ones; to change unhelpful beliefs, or help you get a handle on problems by understanding them thoroughly. At other times we may be working intuitively and symbolically, including the arts, sand tray and play; or we may work with states of consciousness that can be called meditative or light trance states – I’ll explain further if we decide to use them – or for those interested, creating personal ceremonies indoors or out in Nature. I will soon be certified in Heart Math also. If the problem involves family or other relationships, we may use any of those modalities too. I will recommend specific stress management methods and relaxation practices tailored to your needs, and coach you so incorporate them in a lasting way to maintain healthy mood and anxiety levels.. Refer to the list of Arts of Happiness practices in this section.
OUR BODY: When psychotherapists talk about “including the body”, it can mean different things. I focus on these aspects:
The necessary equipment: Without an adequate bio-chemistry we cannot sustain good mood, normal levels of anxiety, concentration, deal with stress without it damaging us, and many functions we need for a good life. I am talking of hormones, the glands that produce them, the organs they affect, their interactions amongst themselves and also with neurotransmitters, other bio-chemicals — and the ability of a person’s unique body to process and use them.
It is important also to know our brain’s strengths and weaknesses and how to use the former and improve the latter, understanding neuro-plasticity. I am a good detective to pick up the clues that show what needs to be explored in these areas. I am always on the look-out for the best medical practitioners in other disciplines who are knowledgeable, practical and effective – and we form a team to arrive at strong and long-lasting improvement as quickly as possible. We want to feel aliveness and energy and be as healthy as possible, and much of this starts with understanding and caring for our bodies. Polyvagal theory teaches us how better use our autonomic nervous system to manage stress, reduce anxiety and worry and heal impacts from trauma. I find that the program Heart Math is a very good method to retrain ourselves.
Using different forms of relaxation and activation: I recommend relaxation exercises, games, activities, attitudes/beliefs changes and connections with others, depending upon your preferences and needs, to positively affect your bio-chemistry and neural networks.
The body as the vehicle to self-awareness and change: Our body is where we feel our feelings, both the happy and pleasurable ones as well as the more troubling ones. We also get cues to our unconscious mind through subtle feelings in our body. Our bodies tense and hurt or relax and heal, depending on how we manage our emotions. Our posture, voice, rhythms can constrict us or free us. Learning how to focus on the wide palette of feelings and sensations is often the door to access our subconscious topography – and our inner wisdom. It is part of the process work I use to reach greater self-understanding, integration and self-love. All these are ways of working through our bodies.
OUR THINKING AND EMOTIONS: Painful emotions can arise due to a wide variety of factors: heredity; illnesses and accidents (especially affecting the brain or endocrine system, or causing disability); early childhood experiences, later experiences, traumas; from lack of opportunities; relationships; obstacles that frustrate reaching our goals; losses; traits in our personality; how we are being treated; prejudice and discrimination; ethical dilemmas; how we relate to the big issues of meaning, purpose, mortality, freedom and responsibility; or from incorrect assumptions and thinking, from confusion, from bad habits, a harsh inner critic, a spiritual crisis, problems of acculturation and transitions – and more. I keep in mind all the factors that you and I find relevant, as we move towards your growth and wellbeing.
RELATIONSHIPS: I work with individuals, families, couples, and organizations. It is important first to inspire, or re-inspire — to find and hold a vision of what those involved want from the relationship, and help people go deeper to their deepest love and values — and how to embody them in their relationship. This motivates people to learn and practice relationship skills which lead them into a ‘virtuous cycle’ instead of a vicious cycle. The cultural dimension is very important – the larger culture as well as the specific family or organizational culture. I also empower couples, families and organizations to be creative in the relational forms that will bring them satisfaction and intimacy — if they are stuck in frustrating dynamics — to recognize these and then change the interactional ‘dance’. To create beautiful relationship ‘dances’.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE: People also consult me when they sense that finding or strengthening their connection with Nature: their own and the natural world, holds a key to their well-being. I practice Eco-therapy in natural settings, wilderness or gardens. We are part of nature, yet in modern lifestyles, our bodies, emotions, aesthetic senses and spirit are too often cut off from nature. Many people “live in their heads”, or currently “live in their electronic gadgets”. For some people the disconnection from Nature is a source of distress, emptiness, of feeling lost and lonely. Some are aware of this and some are not consciously aware but are affected nonetheless. To those interested I can explain further how I help people open blocked channels so as to reconnect with the nature that they are, and with the natural world – and use that connection to access intuitions about how to free stuck patterns, heal from trauma, and tap into their inner wisdom to guide their future directions.
SPIRITUAL, ETHICAL, CREATIVITY, CAREER, AND ECO-THERAPY: Some people consult me because their lives feels stagnant, the beliefs they held have crashed for them, they are confused about how to live a satisfying and meaningful life; or because their creativity feels blocked, insecurities are holding them back, career issues are distressing them; or because they face ethical dilemmas they don’t know how to resolve. When people want to go deeper in these areas I propose a modality I call “Integrity Therapy”.