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advancing our field

Member driven blogs to spotlight solutions, share opinions, raise public awareness, and contribute to shaping our national mental health policy.  Stay current and up-to-date in the world of somatic psychology and practices.


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  • 7 Jul 2022 8:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    USABP & IBPJ Forum: Integrating Trauma and Addiction Treatment

    Treating Addiction, Trauma and Emotional Loss Together:
    A Clinical & Historical Perspective by Gabor Maté


    “Your addiction was your attempt to solve a problem. That problem was that of emotional pain, and hence my mantra...Ask not why the addiction, ask why the pain.” - Gabor Maté

    Gabor Mate is a retired physician who after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience worked for over a decade in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. The best-selling author of four books published in 30 languages, Gabor is an internationally renowned speaker, highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness. His book on addiction, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, received the Hubert Evans prize for literary nonfiction.  For his groundbreaking medical work and writing, he has been awarded the order of Canada, his country's highest civilian distinction, and the Civic America award from his hometown Vancouver.

    ___________________

    I've worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in British Columbia. In the few square blocks of Downtown Eastside, North America’s most concentrated area of drug use, we have more people injecting, inhaling, ingesting substances of all kinds than anywhere in the Western world. I was the physician at North America's first supervised injection site here in Vancouver. My patients were afflicted with mental illness, HIV, hepatitis, all the complications of addiction. 30% of them were Indigenous Canadians. Indigenous Canadians make up 5% of the general population but 30% of our jail population and 30% of the population in the Downtown Eastside, which already tells you that addiction isn't simply an accidental random event. It has to do with history, personal history, and the history of a culture.

     

    Now, why is it that Indigenous people in Canada suffer so much? Because they happen to be the most traumatized segment of the Canadian population. For hundreds of years, they were subjugated, their culture was extirpated, their children were abducted from them, forced to be in residential schools under church guidance where they were beaten, sexually abused, emotionally abused, starved. Thousands died. They're just discovering the bodies right now. In those communities, there are high rates of suicide, high rates of addiction, high rates of mental illness, high rates of physical illness, and high rates of sexual abuse of children. And again, high rates of addiction.

     

    In other words, historical and personal trauma has everything to do with addiction.

     

    What is addiction?

    I define addiction as a complex psycho-physiological process manifested in any behavior in which a person finds pleasure and relief and therefore craves, but suffers negative consequences without being able to give it up. So: craving, pleasure and relief in the short term, negative consequences in the long-term, and the inability or refusal to desist, that’s what addiction is. Note I have said nothing about substances, because clearly people can be addicted to drugs, nicotine, caffeine, crystal meth, heroin, alcohol, but also of course, to sex, pornography, work, power, profit, gambling, the internet, cell phones, and everything else you can think about. The issue is not the external target or the behavior — the issue is one’s internal relationship to it. If there's craving, pleasure and relief in the short term, harm and inability to give it up, that's what addiction is.

     

    And now I simply ask all those of you who recognize that at some time or another, you had some kind of an addictive pattern in your life to please raise your hands. Thank you. Hardly anybody leaves their hand down if they're honest with themselves.



    “The assumption is that people are consciously choosing to use certain substances illegally and therefore they deserve to be punished. Complete and utter scientific nonsense.”

    ______________________

    Now, this is where the whole cultural bias about what addiction is shown to be totally false. People make two assumptions about addictions. Number one is that it's a choice people make, a failure of will, a character flaw, a deficiency of moral power. That's one assumption. In fact, that's the assumption that drives the legal system. The assumption is that people are consciously choosing to use certain substances illegally and therefore they deserve to be punished. Complete and utter scientific nonsense. I won't spend a moment trying to refute it. (I would if I had time.)

    The second assumption is a little bit more interesting, a little bit more accurate, but still misleading. It’s that addiction is a disease of the brain that somehow is generated significantly by genetic factors. That's what the medical belief is. There are some elements of truth to it, but it's fundamentally inaccurate. Addiction is not a process that begins in the brain and there are no addiction genes, never have been, nobody's ever found one. Nobody will ever find any either, contrary to what you're told.



    “Therefore, the treatment of addiction needs to be not simply stopping the behavior, which is only a symptom, but dealing with the underlying embodied trauma.”


    So, what is the source of addiction then? For those of you who raised your hands, I'll ask you a question: Whatever your addiction process was focused on, behaviors, shopping, gambling, eating, drugs, whatever it was, the question is not what was wrong with it. You already know that. The question is: What was right about it? I'm going to ask you to put into the chat what that addiction temporarily gave you that you were looking for. What did you like about it?

    So, let's just see some of these answers. What did the addiction provide for you that you appreciated? Okay. Numbness, relief, distraction. Thank you. Relief, escape, avoidance, sedation. Thank you. That's good enough.

    When do people need to be numb? When they're in pain.

    What do people need distraction from? Painful internal body states, vagal states, and emotional states.

    What do people need to escape from? Distress.

    In other words, it gave you self-soothing, it gave you pleasure. The addiction wasn't your primary problem. Your addiction was your attempt to solve a problem—the problem was of emotional pain. And hence my mantra: Ask not why the addiction, ask why the pain.

    Of course, that pain is not just mental or emotional, it's also an embodied thing. You can feel it, the tension in your neck, in your shoulders, in your belly, in your intestines, in your throat. And of course, in your mind. So, again, not why the addiction, but why the pain. Now, if you want to understand why the pain, you can't look at people's genes or choices. You have to look at their lives.

    And this is where trauma comes in. I don't think I need to review for you the voluminous literature that has linked addictions to trauma, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and so on. What we know without a shadow of a doubt is that addiction is rooted in childhood trauma. I don't have time to go into it, but childhood trauma not only gives you emotional pain, it also affects the body as this group would know. And it also shapes and programs the circuits of the brain that then become more prone to addiction, the natural opiate circuits, the dopamine circuits, the stress regulation circuits, the impulse regulation circuits.

    So, to bring this to a close, I‘ll sum up. Addiction is a desperate and forlorn but totally understandable attempt to deal with the impact of trauma. Addictions are far more common in this toxic culture than most of us realize. Therefore, the treatment of addiction needs to be not simply stopping the behavior, which is only a symptom, but dealing with the underlying embodied trauma. And for those of you who would like to read more about this. my book on addiction is called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. And the same subject is also taken up in the book to be published this fall, The Myth of Normal.

    With that, I will stop. Thank you.

    _____________

    Gabor Maté’s next book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture is due to be published Autumn 2022.

    The video of the USABP/IBPJ Forum Integrating Trauma and Addiction Treatment: A Paradigm Shift is available at, https://youtu.be/bB1M6J5OQcs

  • 21 Mar 2022 1:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    David Boadella passed away November 19, 2021.

    Here is an excerpt from the International Body Psychotherapy Journal Spring/Summer 2021 Volume 20

    How Biosynthesis Enriched Our Lives
    Tribute from Biosynthesis Therapists

    We asked the participants of the First International e-Meeting of Biosynthesis Therapists to share how Biosynthesis had enriched their lives. Here are some of their tributes. 

    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis brought transformation, clarity, structure, understanding, calm, and wholeness to my life. And a connection among mind, soul, heart, spirit, essence, and body. It supported my journey into therapy and helped me understand the other, not only through academic knowledge but with my heart as well. Thank you, David and Sylvia, from my whole being! Antigone Oreopoulou Greece Biosynthesis brought into my life more mindfulness and centering; it became more structured, as are David’s poems. 

    Diana Nikolaishvili
    Georgia, Tbilisi 


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis has given me a very deep and global grasp of the way I function, and as a consequence, of the way other people function. It has deepened my spiritual awareness. And mainly, it has moved the tectonic plates of my psychological organization. 

    Marilyn Pisante
    Greece 


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis gave me the opportunity to feel that I belong somewhere that embraces my whole being as it is. I feel that Biosynthesis is a community that fits every human being, accepts all feelings, all thoughts, and all differentiation. The community’s field supports its members to develop themselves. 

    Stavroula Sofrona
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    He is a teacher – he was, in his younger years, also working with the young, learning from them and with them, while he was asked to educate, to teach, to accompany them, through and despite the hardships of their lives…

    He is a dancer – he has learned from inspiring teachers himself, about movement(s) and moving, the body and its impulses, the diverse and fine qualities that come with dancing, and living itself…

    He is a poet – he loves language and literature, is putting words, creating sentences in a most imaginary way, to express, reach out and touch life and all that comes with it…

    He is a scholar – his intellectual scope is huge, his reading profound, his horizons are wide, the agility of his mind just impressive, opening new spaces, again and again…

    He is a therapist – “ein Gramm Kontakt ist wichtiger alseine Tonne Energie,” this is what he showed us, this is what we have learned, what we can keep in mind, wherever we are going, whatever we are doing…

    He is a citizen of the world – he never restricts himself to a national or social ground, he welcomes everybody from everywhere, welcomes learning from others, from other histories, other cultures, other countries.

    He is just a great spirit, he is just – and he is human.

    David, I am deeply grateful for all I could learn, witness and share with you. With love, Susanne.

    Susanne Maurer
    Germany


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼

    I come from a multidisciplinary educational background. Different psychotherapy approaches led me to the Biosynthesis Centre, where early on I understood it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me, the one that made the picture whole, that made sense, that was missing from the other approaches I had known. It helped me bridge the gap between what my mind was thinking and what my body was telling me, and had told me throughout my life! I felt at home studying there, combining all the knowledge I had gained, connecting to my core truth, to benevolent colleagues, and to the higher purpose of life – that is, to give and receive help while enjoying the path in parallel. Thank you, David and Silvia, for creating this system that holds us all, excludes nothing and no one! 

    Sofia Koukidou
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis helped to bloom the Sonia that was hidden in a tangle of standards, fear of expanding, insecurities, and lack of trust in herself. To experience a deep therapeutic process in the Biosynthesis approach, to do the training, to participate in many meetings in Heiden allowed me to further integrate my multiple layers, find my place in the world, find the meaning of my existence, make contact with my qualities, and let me express them in my personal life in my work as a psychotherapist and as a member of Centro de Biossíntese da Bahia. My deep gratitude for being a part of this family. Special thanks to Eunice, David, and Silvia. 

    Sonia Souza Coutinho
    Brasil


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis brought me to my center and saw me in my inner power as a person. It saw Me!!!! 

    Supriti Zanna Mantzorou
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    A dynamic trajectory that gives new perspectives and shape to life. 

    Penny Zikou
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis gave me a profound understanding of healing and helped me personally transcend some difficult history, reaching back to prenatal and perinatal life. It enabled me to gain strength, confidence, and a deep, growing trust in my own inner ground! As David used to say, “There is always fire beneath the ashes!” 

    Carine Nussbaumer
    Switzerland


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Meeting David has brought my life full circle. Coming from the Elsa Gindler tradition, it was an enormous enrichment to get to know David and his work, and to unite these two paths for my own unfolding and for the benefit of my patients. I am very grateful to be part of the Biosynthesis community. 

    Nimai
    Germany


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis came into my life as a gift from heaven. It gave my life a direction, and taught me to accompany fellow humans in their journey towards healing with deep respect, gentleness, and a holistic understanding of each individual’s precious being. It has been my honor to have had the chance to meet David, feel the amazing quality of his presence, and witness his art as a therapist. 

    Marina Chandoutis
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    Biosynthesis has enriched my life on many levels. On the deepest level, it has helped me connect with hope, and ground in trust of life. It has helped me in my everyday life to reconnect with my own hope when patients, clients, or loved ones lose their ground. Thank you to David and Silvia and the whole community for creating and keeping alive a method that resonates with the soul of life at its deepest. 

    Paz Cardín
    Spain


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    The Belonging…

    The earth has dried, and the daisies have long since withered
    on the zipper of your green cardigan.
    The sun, a faded spot on the horizon,
    like the look of your eyes…
    The scared body lies, torn to pieces, on the altar
    of genetic belonging, losing its essence,
    while the naked soul seeks to find a place to live…
    It seeks a united body, with rhythm and continuity,
    solid and airy at the same time,
    with a heart that beats fiercely and
    hands that open like wings to embrace it.
    It seeks belonging away from biological family toward a family that nourishes
    the healthy belonging to You, as body, soul and entity.

    Eudokia Katsiana
    Greece


    ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ ◼ 

    CURIOUS COMPASSION COMPANION *

    Your Trauma Narrative
    Is important.

    It will be
    The window
    You enter

    In order to
    Start the journey
    Of recovery.

    However,

    This is only
    The beginning.

    Trauma is more about
    What happened
    Inside you

    When you had to
    Freeze,
    Fawn,
    Fight or Flight.

    The impulses for
    A healthy corrective
    Experience

    Are latent in
    Your Body

    Just waiting
    For you
    To show up

    With a
    Curious Compassion
    Companion

    Who has walked
    Her own way

    And can shine
    The light

    To show you reconnection.

    Until,

    You become your own light
    You become your own regulator
    You become your own saviour

    You become

    Free.

    © Attracta Gill
    Ireland


    ABOUT
    David Boadella (1931 - 2021), B.A., M.Ed., D.Sc.hon., Psychotherapist SPV, UKCP and ECP.

    Studied education, psychology and literature. Trained in character- analytic vegetotherapy. Founder of Biosynthesis. Since 1985 he has undergone ongoing further training in “Psychosomatic Centering” (Robert Moore, Denmark). He has spent over 40 years in psychotherapeutic practice. He holds lectures worldwide, and is the author of numerous books and articles. In 1995 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the “Open International University of Complementary Medicine” for his pioneering work in the development and promotion of Energy & Character, as well as for his contributions to social sciences in this context.

    A selection of David Boadella’s books: “Befreite Lebensenergie/ Lifestreams” (Kösel / Routledge), “Wilhelm Reich: The evolution of his work” (Arkana).


  • 17 Dec 2021 12:30 PM | Cynthia Price

    A new article is publication is available titled "Facilitating adaptive emotion processing and somatic reappraisal via sustained mindful interoceptive attention. " Published in Frontier in Psychology, this article by Drs. Cynthia Price and Helen Weng, is aimed at mental health professionals and highlights the role of sustained interoceptive attention for enhanced emotion regulation. 


  • 23 Jun 2021 2:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By  Amelia H. Kaplan and Laurie Schwartz, Rutgers University and New York, NY

    ABSTRACT
    Body-centered Psychotherapy (BcP) is a developing field of academic investigation. The present research employed the Pragmatic Case Study Method (“PCS Method”) for systematically studying how verbal and somatic interventions are combined in a single therapy in two 12-session cases seen by an experienced BcP therapist. Following the PCS Method, the cases begin with a presentation of the therapist’s theoretical approach, or “guiding conception,” and a description of how it is applied to each client. The data analyzed in each case include videotapes and transcripts of selected therapy sessions; pre- and post-therapy scores on standardized, quantitative measures; a pre- and post-treatment goal-setting interview; and a semi-structured, post-therapy, outcome interview. The results revealed substantial progress and statistically-significant quantitative changes in both clients. Additionally, distinctly different patterns of progress occurred, as the therapist tailored therapy in accordance with the needs of each client.

    Body-centered Psychotherapy (BcP), also known as “Body Psychotherapy” and “Somatic Psychology,” is a developing branch of psychology based on the vital connection between psychological symptoms and physiological states. Although many non-BcP therapies attend to bodily experience, what distinguishes BcP as a unique subfield within psychology is the centrality of somatic sensory experience throughout diagnosis, formulation, and treatment (e.g., see such pioneer therapists in the field as Ferenczi, 1953; Kurtz & Prestera, 1976; Lowen, 1958; Reich, 1945). Additionally, physical touch is more often used by BcP therapists, even though many BcP therapists do not use touch or only introduce it tangentially.

    The most comprehensive set of references to BcP exist on a CD-ROM Bibliography developed by the European Association of Body Psychotherapy (Young, 2002). There exists extensive literature on the healing power of touch (Field, 2001; Harlow, 1974; Montagu, 1971) and on touch in psychotherapy (Hunter & Struve, 1998; Smith, 1985; Smith, Clance, & Imes, 1998), yet Somatic Psychology has mostly been developed clinically. May (1998) conducted a comprehensive literature search over the previous 30 years and found 23 empirical BcP studies. A brief review of such studies follows.

    The first major prospective clinical trial is currently underway in Germany and Switzerland (Koemeda-Lutz et al., 2003). In this study, eight major BcP outpatient clinics are measuring clients to study the effectiveness of BcP under natural conditions. Preliminary results are promising, finding that after six months of BcP treatment (n=78), small to medium effect sizes were reported across all clinical categories.

    Ventling and Gerhard (2000) conducted a retrospective study of 319 former patients to study outcome and stability of the efficacy of Bioenergetic therapy with adults in a private practice setting. Drawing from the patients of sixteen certified Bioenergetic therapists, the authors collected data from former patients who had a mean of 91 sessions (modal 26-50 sessions), and who terminated therapy between 6 months and 6 years previously. The responses demonstrated that for 107 (75%) of the patients, Bioenergetic therapy proved effective to very effective and that the results had lasted from at least 6 months to 6 years.

    Several studies have investigated the outcome of BcP using case study designs. Bourque (2002) collected pre and post-test data on four chronic pain clients who engaged in eight weekly “Somatics” sessions and found statistically significant decreases in pain and increases in pain-free activities in three of the four subjects. Employing a qualitative analysis of a single case, Bridges (2002) found that Bioenergetic therapy addressed the client’s “somatic defenses against affect” and significantly increased affective expression in a short-term psychodynamic treatment (McCullough et al., 2003a). Finally, also studying a single case, Price (2002) examined the effects of adding an 8-week adjunctive BcP therapy alongside an ongoing verbal psychotherapy for a woman with childhood sexual and physical abuse. The client demonstrated significant improvement on such standardized quantitative measures as the SCL-90-R (also used in the present study) in such areas as depression, anxiety, and obsessive symptoms, as well as decreases in her physical symptoms. In addition, the client qualitatively reported improvement in “feelings of safety, ability to tune in to internal processes, and ability to access emotion.”

    A recent meta-analysis of massage therapy (MT) research, drawing from a wide range of sources (psychology, nursing, medicine, and kinesiology), found MT significantly effective for both physiological and psychological outcomes (Moyer, Rounds, & Hannum, 2004). Additionally, reductions in trait anxiety and depression were MT’s largest effects, similar to those found in psychotherapy meta-analyses. The authors speculate that combining massage and psychotherapy may significantly increase effectiveness more than either alone.

    The present research builds on previous systematic, empirical studies to help fill the need for many more such investigations in BcP in order to create a solid scientific foundation for the field. Specifically, this investigation includes in-depth, systematic case studies involving qualitative process compared with standardized quantitative measures to examine how BcP integrates the body into psychotherapy, as seen through the work of Laurie Schwartz, M.S, L.M.T. (Licensed Massage Therapist), a widely known BcP practitioner with 25 years of practice in the field. The main questions guiding this study include: What does BcP therapy look like? What themes in BcP therapy are unique or distinguishing? And how does BcP therapy integrate talk and touch in a unified therapy? In addition, by looking at what is distinctive about a BcP approach, this study can begin to contribute to the questions of whether it is effective to combine talk and touch in a single therapy, and if so, what are the mechanisms of change in such a therapy.

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  • 22 Jun 2021 4:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CELLULAR RESONANCE AND THE SACRED FEMININE: MARION WOODMAN’S STORY by TINA STROMSTED, PH.D.

    The following is an excerpt from Dr. Stromsted's full article entitled above.

    Body work is soul work.
    Imagination is the bridge between body and soul.

    ~ Marion Woodman

    Pull Quote from Excerpt below...

    “I always try to grasp the metaphor at the root of an addiction. That varies. With food, it can be mother; with alcohol, spirit; with cocaine, light; with sex, union. Mother, spirit, light, union—these can be archetypal images of the soul’s search for what it needs..."

    ~ Marion Woodman


    Excerpt on Addictions

    Integrating shadow elements and working through addictions play a large role in Marion’s work.

    “The trouble is that we lack basic respect for our bodies. There’s a complete denial of the sacredness of matter. And that is very much connected to any addiction. That’s certainly true of eating in our culture. It’s true of workaholics, too, because they don’t pay any attention to what they’re doing to their bodies so long as they can keep working eighteen, nineteen, twenty hours a day. … I think many of us cannot face the pain of our lives. So work is an escape, or compulsive relationship is an escape, or eating is an escape, until we weep when we look in a mirror (page 20).”

    In working with addictions, Marion attends to the metaphor in the behaviors, holding a larger frame of reference in helping the addict understand the meaning of the patterns that accompany the illness.

    “I always try to grasp the metaphor at the root of an addiction. That varies. With food, it can be mother; with alcohol, spirit; with cocaine, light; with sex, union. Mother, spirit, light, union—these can be archetypal images of the soul’s search for what it needs. If we fail to understand the soul’s yearning, then we concretize and become compulsively driven toward an object that cannot satisfy the soul’s longing (page 21).”

    Marion feels that it is through contacting this deep soul longing and bringing it to consciousness, rather than simply treating the external symptoms, that our culture may be healed of the addictions that exist on such a massive scale. Her style in working with people is honest, direct, forceful, respectful, humorous, sometimes confrontational, and deeply supportive. Though Marion’s mother “had no sense of loving being a woman,” and Marion feels sad because she herself had no child, the mother archetype has been generously expressed through her work with thousands of students, workshop participants, and analysands—“un-mothered women” and father’s daughters who have benefited a great deal from the healing her work has provided them. Her own struggle with the death wish in anorexia is a testament to the work, which she models for women who wish to recognize and value their feminine being. Marion also models a feminine mode of leadership, working collaboratively with Mary Hamilton and Ann Skinner.

    Their styles weave together naturally, as each takes turns leading elements of the work as well as supporting one another in the process, seeming like mother and daughters in one moment, while at other times like sister muses as they integrate their gifts.

    Read Dr. Stromsted's full article entitled above. 

    See more publications by Tina Stromsted here.

  • 13 Jun 2021 8:07 AM | Cynthia Price

    A recent high-profile  journal, Trends in Neuroscience, put out a special issue focused on interoception. The issue includes articles written by the presenters at a NIH-sponsored 2-day meeting on the science of interoception.  The article titled Interventions and Manipulations of Interoception highlights the body-psychotherapy evidence-based approach Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT), an approach designed to teach interoceptive awareness.  MABT teaches fundamental skills of interoceptive awareness and the more advanced capacity to sustain mindful interoceptive attention to somatic experience.  This approach is particularly useful for clients who are disconnected from their bodies due to high stress or patterns of experiential avoidance, chronic pain or trauma. The non-profit Center for Mindful Body Awareness offers trainings to therapists so that they can learn to integrate this approach into practice in order to enhance client embodiment, self-awareness, and emotion regulation. The next professional training is in September 2021,  click here for information and registration. 

  • 29 Mar 2021 5:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In over 100 years of therapy, very little attention has been given to two elements of clinical practice: the body and positive emotions. Thankfully, somatic psychology and positive psychology have received increasing scientific recognition over the past two decades. This paper will explore ways in which somatics can contribute to the field of therapeutic healing, growth, and empowerment. 

    As humans, we are complex systems, which means that our functioning is organized through multifaceted and interdependent relationships. Through evolution, simple life on Earth manifested with a basic physiological structure, affect followed and culminating with cognitive capabilities. This evolutionary process grew out of a need to complexify adaptive responses to augment chances of survival. While cognitive analysis can be of great support to heal and grow, both the weight of physiological processes such as the nervous system and the strength of emotions and moods to influence behaviour provide important therapeutic routes for resiliency and empowerment. 

    Through its integrative approach to therapeutic conceptualization and practice, NeuroSystemics emphasize therapeutic interventions focusing on physiology, affect, cognition, and interpersonal dynamics. This paper will first briefly summarize the meta-developmental trajectory at the heart of NeuroSystemics’ conceptualization and range of therapeutic interventions. Second, a closer analysis of biological and affective dimensions of resiliency and empowerment will be described.

    A meta-therapeutic methodology

    NeuroSystemics is a clinical practice that can be applied in four settings: (i) mental training, (ii) individual therapy, (iii) group therapy, and (iv) community processes. They each correspond to the concentric circles of (i) sense, (ii) self, (iii) social and (iv) societal, respectively, in the following diagram:




    In whichever setting, we attempt to engage with all the parts of that system as well as the system as a whole. Biology and affect, as holonic fractals, can be both parts and wholes, depending on the breadth of attentional focus and practice setting.

    For example, in mindfulness practice, the emerging sensate networks of the in-out movement of the breath can be experienced as a dynamic wholeness with many interacting features. When attention is broadened, the spectrum of awareness may include. A sense of the whole body, in which the sensate rhythms of the breath would only be a part. The key here is to provide a firm foundation for understanding the interdependence of human experience, whereby any efforts towards differentiation necessarily imply consideration for integration and contextualization. 

    Baring this fundamental principle of complex functioning in mind, it is of great benefit to explore mono-developmental trajectories, where a single dimension of human experience such as physiology, affect or cognition is cultivated. The next section describes the way NeuroSystemics understands resiliency and empowerment through a differentiated lens of biology and affect.

    Biological development

    When considering the possibilities of somatic cultivation, development, and training, it is helpful to refer back to our evolutionary process. Porges’ polyvagal theory describes a fairly linear direction in terms of physiological responses to stimuli from reflexes to social engagement. See this diagram of it. 



    Reflexes are the most primal physiological responses to the environment. They arise based on sensory contact of comfort and discomfort. Freeze, a shutting-down of major physiological systems, was already a more elaborate form of response to reflexes. It increased the probabilities of survival by “playing possum” and escaping one’s prey after they become disinterested. Fight-and-flight offers more opportunities for a differentiated response to threat and social engagement and is the culmination of a multi-million-year process of refinement. This last system arises out of feeling a sense of safety and promotes curiosity, playfulness, and enjoyment.

    A first important therapeutic goal, based on this evolutionary framework, NeuroSystemics uses elaborate maps, therapeutic conditions and interventions to support the emergence of social engagement. Porges’ neurophysiological findings have demonstrated that the freeze-flight-fight and social engagement systems are aroused in inverse proportions.  

    One key practice to sustain a socially engaged nervous system state is to encourage the clients’ self-organizing impulses. These impulses, also known as Chanda in Buddhist meditative texts and Eros in Freudian meta-psychology, are generative organismic drives towards health, clarity and well-being. Supporting them implies sensing into the clients’ system as a whole, while simultaneously differentiating its parts to identify signs of arousal and deactivation: physiology (prosody, facial expressions, agitation, etc) and free-associative process, their affective variations, their bodily movements as well as their quality of presence in relation to the therapist (i.e. trust, vulnerability, appreciation).



    Intensity spectrum of physiological deactivation

    When we work with the autonomic nervous system, we are walking a fine line between increasing the nervous system's backlog, or reducing it. Our aim in Neurosystemics (somatic-centered therapy) is to reduce it by reaching gentle and enjoyable thresholds (the edge of our client's window of tolerance) and then deactivating the system. You can assess the intensity of the threshold reach by identifying the symptoms of deactivation, which are on that spectrum above: the most subtle and easeful deactivation symptoms are spontaneous breaths and soft heat, and the most intense are involuntary movements and shaking. While some of the more extreme symptoms may sometimes be inevitable in our work, in NeuroSystemics we aim to have easeful and smooth deactivations so that our clients can stay oriented to the here-and-now and have better chances of integrating this somatic process easily in their daily life.

    All these factors (and others) will provide valuable indicators to assess whether the physiological coherence and synchronicity are growing or diminishing. Therapists then adapt their interventions to provide more or less containment to shepherd a higher level of physiological resiliency.

    Complexity science has also provided a number of essential findings to support us in biological maturation. It explains that increasing levels of organization emerge from phase transitions which occur by reaching thresholds at far-from-equilibrium states. Human physiology has non-linear patterns whereby rhythmic oscillatory movements between equilibrium (homeostasis) and far-from-equilibrium states (morphogenesis) enable increasing levels of metastability.

    In terms of practice, this means that we will want to support our clients, in a gentle, progressive, and positively-valenced manner, to come into contact with physiological states which feel out of balance. By listening to the multi-faceted impulses (physiological, affective and cognitive), a cushion of resource and ease can help to soften, contain and eventually convert previously overwhelming sympathetic charge into regulating and organizing patterns of coherence and synchronicity.

    In summary, the two directions proposed by NeuroSystemics to encourage biological maturation  is to conceive of skillful means to sustain our clients’ social engagement nervous system states, as well as to ground their physiology in gentle and progressively increasing rhythmic oscillatory movements between homeostatic and morphogenetic states. These will enable greater physiological resiliency, somatic embodiment as can be indicated by heart-rate variability.

  • 16 Mar 2021 5:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In preparation for the interactive part of the webinar, Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom Up Approach, please -

    A. Download Your Body Card and Gather Crayons 
    1) download and print out one of the following body cards most suited to you, and
    2) have at your disposal crayons to draw/write on your body card during the webinar exercise.
     

    Pick the body card that best represents you:

    To explore in advance elements of the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model check out these resources below. Some of them will be used in the webinar.

    B) Review "The Primacy of Human Presence: From The Small Steps of the Therapy Process" by Eugene Gendlin

    Review

    C) Familiarize yourself with The Felt Sense / Polyvagal Model
    1) Read model overview
    2
    Download diagrams to guide sessions with clients. 
    3
    ) Get links to get familiar with Focusing and its six steps process. 

    Read, Download and Link To

  • 15 Feb 2021 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you a therapist in a setting working with underserved populations? Use this mindfulness exercise and contemplation for exploring marginalization and your and others' relationship to it.

    Part 1. For this exercise notice how you organize around the statements to be read. Notice that our responses may be different based on how culture has impacted us.

    Part 2. In this exercise, it can be helpful to explore the parts of ourselves that resonate with dominant culture and the parts of us that have been marginalized by the dominant culture.

    Post Exploration Discussion Questions: 
    - Share (or journal) your experience of hearing the statements.
    - What do you imagine might be evoked from someone who is marginalized as they hear these statements?

    If you like this Demo please like it on YouTube and subscribe to our channel. Spread the healing. Share this demo with another using this link: https://youtu.be/svAi4MWdqhw




    There is a course we offer, in partnership with the Hakomi Institute, that further explores the topic of marginalization. It offers somatic activities to enhance your work with clients. For advanced students of Hakomi this webinar brings a fresh take on utilizing Hakomi with underserved populations. It is presented by Rebecca Lincoln, LPC-S, Certified Hakomi Teacher.

    Earn 2 CE credits when you watch and take the course, Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology with Underserved Populations

    You can also watch it here free... but you need to be a member of the USABP.

    Learn more about the Hakomi Institute.

    Video Credits include
    - Presenter Bio Rebecca Lincoln, LPC-S, Certified Hakomi 
    Teacher

    Rebecca is a Licensed Professional Counselor and board-approved supervisor in the state of Texas. She specializes in working with trauma, grief, anxiety, depression, and personal growth. She is a certified therapist in Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology and a certified Hakomi teacher. She has additional training in several modalities including EMDR, and spiritually integrated psychotherapy. When working with Ms. Lincoln, expect to consider the aspects of mind, body, and spirit in your healing process. Ms. Lincoln is open-minded, loves to laugh, and is interested in knowing who you are and what is important to you.

    She also loves mentoring interns. If you are an LPC intern looking for supervision for full licensure, send her a message to set-up a phone call to discuss details.

    Edited by Liam Blume, CPRA 

  • 12 Nov 2020 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In this video presentation below, we are excited to introduce to you the possibilities, value, benefits of using virtual touch. We will provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to incorporate the beginning experience of touch into your sessions or with others you want to connect with. A significant portion of the presentation will be dedicated to a demo from which you can experience and learn from.

    Coming soon! Get the Full Home Study Training for Virtual Touch  at our Somatic CE Center. 2 CE Credits will be available.

    The full method of Transformative Virtual Touch in Telehealth Care recording is free to USABP members and paid registrants.

    Expand your skills… Transform yourself.

      Visit Our Somatic CE Center 


    If you like this Demo please like us on YouTube and subscribe to our channel. Spread the healing. Share this demo with another, https://youtu.be/DAMc_VHBsEs

    Covid-19’s arrival has disrupted one of the ways that we touch our clients, that is, physically with our hands. This loss of physical contact creates tremendous anxiety because gentle, caring touch is the bedrock of safety. It allows for and promulgates the release of oxytocin which is a critical hormone that ameliorates sensations of feeling unsafe.


    In response to this loss, we turned to the myriad of other ways we could still provide touch for our clients in order to bridge the isolation that sheltering at home was creating. We are now doing virtual sessions across the globe and have come to the recognition that virtual touch is an efficient and effective way to heal during Covid times and even when Covid becomes a distant memory. Possibilities abound!


    This post is a part of our "Insider Look" and "Somatic Self Care” Series. This episode has been brought to you in part by Joe Weldon and Noel Wight Co-Founders of the Somatic Therapy Center.


    The USABP has been integrating body and mind for effective psychotherapeutic health since 1996.


    Our USABP Somatic Continuing Education Center offers in-depth courses for health care providers. Enroll Now. It’s Free. At https://usabp.teachable.com.


    There you can take the courses from many luminaries in the field of Somatic Psychology and Therapeutic Training such as from Noel Wight & Joe Weldon Ph.D. and more. Such as Stephen W. Porges Ph.D., Babette Rothschild, MSW, Dr. Alan Schore, Judith Blackstone, Noel Wight & Joe Weldon Ph.D. Learn more about the Somatic Therapy Center work at https://www.thesomatictherapycenter.com


    Become a member of the USABP (Association) first and pay just $15 per CEU. Go to https://usabp.org/Join-Us

    With membership, you'll get the next 12 webinar training programs FREE, access to our library of training programs, a subscription to our peer-reviewed somatic journal, and more.

    FREE Exercises, techniques, skills, case studies and more resources are available here on this site. Check out all our sections. 


    Subscribe to our USABP Highlights and Viewpoints email sends, at https://usabp.org/home#subscribe.

    You'll be informed of our next posting, zoom webinars, book reviews, journal releases, research findings, case studies, and special VIP invites.


    Video Credits include -

    Presenter Bio
    Joe Weldon- Co-Director, Licensed Psychologist, Master Somatic Therapist

    Unable to walk until the age of five imbued in me a deep respect and regard for the traumatic experience of the loss of movement. In a Somatic Therapy session, I will help you differentiate your essence from the injuries that have happened to you. This will help you restore movements to your being that are necessary for you to live a life with ease, joy, and meaning. When full and free movement is restored then love becomes visible and viable. Come for a session and restore the lost, taken away, and forgotten movement that is your natural birthright.

    Thousands of clients seeking to restore movement to their bodies and transform their lives are now moving about more freely and easily because of the gentle transformative touch I have skillfully provided them. Hundreds more have learned the fine art and skill of Transformative Touch in our one-of-a-kind somatic therapy training.

    Produced, Edited and Hosted by Liam Blume, CPRA- Integrated BodyMind Therapist at https://www.Soulworkla.com
    - Director of Marketing and Content Curation for the USABP 


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