“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”Carl Jung
One of the most common questions I get asked when people enquire about therapy is, “How do you work?” or “What is your approach?” and the honest answer to this is, “That depends on you”. Your story may be similar to others’ but it will still be unique to you and that is why therapy that is tailored to you and your needs rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach is important. Integrative psychotherapy recognises this and a good therapist will interweave strands from a range of therapies to provide a bespoke therapy that will be most helpful and applicable to your individual circumstances and needs.
Below I have outlined some of the approaches and ways of working that I have found to be highly effective with clients. However, it is also important to remember that the type of therapy will ultimately be determined by what is going to be the most helpful to you in achieving your aims.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Influence of the past on the present
As the past influences the present, so the present will affect the future and psychodynamic psychotherapy seeks to understand the way in which our past experiences have shaped – and continue to influence – our current experience.
We evolve through relationship and so exploring the relationships we have with others, our relationship with ourselves and our core beliefs about ourselves and the world are key to moving towards having a greater awareness of patterns and behaviour that may have arisen from our early experiences but which may no longer serve us. Increased awareness can help to shed light on the ‘why’ of our current experience but perhaps more importantly, we will work on using that insight to help you move beyond outmoded behavioural and relational patterns and work to create new ones that provide you with more freedom and choice in your life.
Embodied or body-focused psychotherapy
Beyond ‘talk therapy’
While psychodynamic therapy looks at the importance of our early experience together with our current circumstances/relationships, body-focused psychotherapy recognises the importance of the way in which these experiences are reflected and expressed in an embodied way.
Western society tends to separate the mind and body, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this split is also reflected in psychotherapy where ‘talk therapy’ is the predominant modality. In working beyond talk therapy we extend our awareness to understanding how our thoughts impact the body and vice versa.
We may be very conscious of our bodies when we feel stressed, nervous or anxious. We have all experienced symptoms such as butterflies in our stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth etc. but there is a continuous flow of information between body and mind where our bodies react to the way that we think, feel and act. We are often less conscious of this but paying attention to this can be incredibly powerful, especially when working with issues such as anxiety and is particularly relevant when working with traumatic material.
Existential therapy focuses on the present rather than the past. Existentialism understands anxieties and uncertainties are a fundamental part of life. Therefore, how we deal with these anxieties and uncertainties can have a big impact on our quality of life. For example, if we deal with anxiety by consistently distracting ourselves with other things, we send our brain the message that we cannot deal with the anxiety, which ultimately compounds the anxiety. In this case, it is not about avoiding anxiety but of learning how to deal with it.
Core to existential therapy is also the idea that we have the capability and responsibility for making decisions and creating our success. What gives you purpose? What drives you? What inspires and energises you? And what gets in the way of you moving towards a meaningful life? I believe these are all fundamental and important questions that are an essential part of any therapeutic endeavour.
Utilising both sides of the brain
Where relevant, we may explore your current dilemmas, conflicts etc. through the medium of the arts and creative imagination. This is not about art and no artistic talent is required. What it is about is engaging both sides of the brain to understand and work creatively on our dilemmas. In my experience, working in this way can successfully enable us to access and work to change deeply held beliefs that may be outside of our awareness but which have a profound impact on our lives.