Therapy Options

As your therapist, I’m rather like a Sherpa, guiding you on the path to your goal, sometimes making observations, and generally facilitating an experience that you will find challenging but achievable. Similarly, you, as client, are like the mountaineer choosing which mountain to climb when, and actually doing the work.

Therapy of many kinds is about “taking out the garbage”. As with other things, there is not just one way to achieve that goal. Good physical health, for example, is supported by combination of regular exercise and a nutritious, balanced diet. Exercise or diet alone will not give the same result as the two combined.

A number of popular healing professions include touch and some primarily use touch in their treatment of clients, for example, Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Acupressure, Reflexology, CranioSacral Therapy, Reiki, Structural Integration or Rolfing, Alexander Technique, Bowen Technique and others.

Many clients choose to use “talk therapy” exclusively, and get good results. Talking often provides access to the feelings that are left over from an event or experience, and is a good way to express and understand them. Experiences can be explored through dialogue, and they can also accessed through the physical dimension. Feelings often manifest in body sensations, and one of the goals of therapy is to integrate or reconnect with feelings, and process them appropriately. This processing can be helped through enacting or re-enacting, giving a voice to a feeling, representing a feeling with a physical expression, and various other techniques and modalities.

Some clients choose to go a step further, and use the therapist as a physical support for their process. For example, many people find it helpful and comforting to be held while they cry because the sense of safety and being witnessed make it easier to access and experience their emotions more fully. You may not be considering therapy specifically for a “touch issue” but including some kinds touch in therapy can provide additional routes to achieving the changes and healing you’re seeking.

For some people, a simple, honest hug is a rarely experienced luxury and provides a feeling of connection. For some people, that same hug could provoke fear, anxiety or sadness. For many people, receiving a hug from “a stranger” feels a little weird and slightly uncomfortable because in our society, a handshake – or no touch at all – is customary. (Even some psychotherapists are reluctant to touch their clients!)

Considerable research has been done on how touch affects the psychological development of infants, and there is strong evidence linking early separations and deprivation of touch with various conditions including chronic anxiety, low self-esteem, persistent anger, distrust, narcissism and others. Many studies have concluded that most adults in society do not receive adequate amounts of touch… some feel 8-12 hugs a day are minimum for good health.

Some adults have experienced inappropriate kinds of touch or were denied appropriate touch as children, and some have experienced violence or trauma where touch sensations were a part of the aggression or injury. Insufficient or inappropriate touch can cause individuals to create defenses of many kinds, for example, to protect against the pain of isolation, or to “escape” from a repeated or unwanted intrusion. Touch (or lack of it) was sometimes part of the original problem, and for many people touch can also be an important part of the solution. It can be a powerfully healing and nourishing experience to receive the soothing cuddles and strokes that many of us have seldom received since our childhood.

As client and therapist – mountaineer and Sherpa – we will be in conversation about your journey. As with mountain-climbing, there are often several options available, and you always have the choice of which path to follow. I, as your Sherpa, will offer you my suggestions, and it’s up to you to select the challenge you’re ready for in that moment.

For more details about my approach, click here.

©2011

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