Are you tired of spending time in therapy analysing your problems but find you're not able to change them? Do you have lots of "insight" that doesn't seem to help you actually get a handle on your behaviour?
When you come in for your first appointment, you may have a lot to say, or you may be so nervous that you don't know what say. Trust is a key issue that may have to be revisited because it is not a static thing - it comes and it goes, and generally has to be earned to be meaningful. We start by exploring and enhancing your strengths and resources. Much of what you need to work on may not be accessible to direct verbal processing. Problems "trapped in the body" do not go away simply by talking. For example, even if you "know" that you are physically safe place, until your body calms down enough to take in new information, you won't be able to make use of this intellectual knowledge because those centres of the brain may be "off-line". For this reason, PSI addresses issues of perceived safety and trust first, and teaches self awareness and self modulation of physical activation levels throughout the work.
PSI enables you to re-embody yourself, identify and establish personal boundaries, match the right “feed to the right need”, and frees up energy entangled in obsessions and compulsions, or drained by body memories and reenactments. It helps you work with behaviours that feel out of control by helping you reconnect to disowned aspects of self, and develop internal cooperation and shared goals.
Eating and Body Image Work
Eating and body image problems can express some of our deepest experiences as women and men. Issues such as staying true to our hunger/s; defining ourselves within and outside of relationships to others; and taking up space and being visible in a sometimes dangerous world, may show up in our relationships to food and body.
We begin by helping you explore your personal experiences of food, feeding, fat, and body size, and why these issues are so painful. You may have been put on diets or diet pills, forced to eat when you weren't hungry, weighed and lectured by well meaning (or not so well meaning?) doctors or relatives, or felt otherwise disrespected and intruded upon. We will not be weighing you or telling you what or what not to eat. This may feel like a relief, or you may not like that. Some people become dependent on others to tell them what to eat. We will simply be encouraging you to sense your hunger and satiation points, and to notice when you can follow them as guides, and when it seems too difficult.
We may choose to include journal, art, or movement work, and guided fantasies to help you express what the eating problem has been trying to say. Ultimately, you will learn to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. But in the meantime, when you cannot always do this, we will use the symptoms to point us to the triggers and issues in your life that you have been using bingeing, starving, and/or purging to solve. We work these through one by one, until you feel stronger to face these difficulties without depriving or punishing yourself with food.
Ann Hunt, Counsellor, ACC Approved, Mangare Bridge Not currently taking clients
Couples and Relationship Therapy
Couples or Relationship Therapy tends to be more efficient than individual therapy because you get to work through your issues together, as a team, and there is less tendency to relapse because it is easier for an individual to change when the family system changes with them. Relationship or Family Counselling offers a safe place where each person can be heard, first by the therapist, and ultimately by each other. Sometimes the therapist acts as a translator, but never as a referee. It helps to start by exploring the strengths of each relationship, and what makes for positive mutual experiences
PSI Combines a number of approaches to working with couples:
Somatic CouplesTherapy: Incorporating bodily awareness work into couples therapy is very powerful and effective, most especially for deescalating fights and working through sexual issues. Paying attention to things such things as eye contact, tone and volume of voice, physical distance, posture, facial expressions, and hand movements is critical for effectively establishing safety within the relationship and for resolving impasses as 90% of all communication is non-verbal, even though most forms of therapy only concentrate on the 10% that is verbal. By paying attention to and changing non-verbal communications between couples, deep change can occur rather quickly. This not only changes relationships, it changes one's physical and emotional experience within the relationship.
Systems Therapy helps us to understand how interactions throughout the family system affect each partner. Changing the patterns of interactions can make a profound difference for the individuals concerned. This approach involves the use of a genogram- which is like an emotional family tree that maps out the family system pictorially, going up at least one or two generations to reveal generational patterns for each person. This is a way for both partners to get a history, and to see how that history may be repeating itself in present patterns of behaviour, which offers opportunities for change.
John Gottman developed a scientifically based approach to couples therapy from his extensive observations of and research with couples and families in his lab. One of his most important contributions, in my opinion, is the concept of the emotional bank account. He explains that for every negative encounter there should be at least 5 positive encounters in the "bank account" to help the couple get through hard times. He emphasises ways to build up this account in preparation for when it is needed. He also talks about recurrent problems, explaining that most (he says 60% ) of relationship problems are not solvable, and that it is how the couple engages in and moves through the problem each time it presents itself (again and again) that determines the success or failure of a relationship.
Imago Therapy (Harville Hendrix) presents ways for partners to be more loving and compassionate with one another. He says safety is the key to passion and intimacy. He suggests that we try to remember the ways we saw our partner when we first fell in love, and work through our tendencies to project our experiences with our parents onto our partners, so as to attain deep relational satisfaction. .