A panic attack is an experience of being overwhelmed by unresolved emotional trauma, an event in the past revisited in the present as if it is happening again. The long-term therapeutic resolution of that trauma is personal and therefore different for each person. In the short-term, the psychosomatic (emotional and physical) alarm response may be calmed by an exercise which brings the person back into the safe here and now. The first part of this article explains the therapeutic theory behind the body calming exercise; and the second part is the exercise itself, available as a downloadable MP3.
Emotions: why they’re all useful, and the cycle of problems when emotions are blocked
The key task of counselling or psychotherapy is to raise a person’s awareness of their own processes, to help them become attentive to their habitual patterns of thoughts and emotions. Of the four basic emotions – happiness, sadness, fear and anger – it is often the case that a person has learned that one emotion is ‘bad’, that they aren’t allowed it, that they should resist feeling it.
This article outlines the purpose of emotions; why some are blocked or ‘banned’ in some families; how an ‘approved’ emotion is used as a substitute; how the banning of an emotion can lead to a repeated cycle of unresolved feelings; and how psychotherapy can help.
Letting go and grieving well
We tend to think of grief and bereavement as something we experience only when someone close to us has died, but the bereavement process can happen with any deep and significant loss: the death of a person, the end of a relationship, significant loss of health, the loss of a limb, the end of a career, etc.
This article outlines what to expect in any grieving process. My aim is to show that difficult experiences are normal processes of adjustment to a new situation involving loss.
Hope in the therapy room
A question I am sometimes asked by clients, usually in the first few sessions, is “Is there any hope for me?” It is a fundamental question which goes to the heart of therapy. A way of understanding the question is ‘Will I be able to grow beyond my present state? Is change really possible?’ The answer is an emphatic ‘Yes’.
Is counselling or psychotherapy for me?
For many people, the first question when reading this website will be, ‘Is counselling or psychotherapy for me? Will it help?’ The aim of this article is to address what therapy is like and what it can offer.
Psychosomatic symptoms: are they all in the mind?
‘Psychosomatic illness’ and ‘psychosomatic symptoms’ are commonly-used terms. In everyday language, they are typically used to dismiss both the symptoms and the person, with phrases such as ‘It’s all in the mind’, often meaning, ‘It isn’t real: this person is imagining it’. This article outlines why such ideas are mistaken, and the importance of understanding the unity of mind and body.
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