At Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy, Sam Jahara and myself have been thinking long and hard about what it is that we offer our clients and how best to describe how we work and what sets us apart from the competition.
Counselling and psychotherapy is about loss. And dealing and managing loss is a part of life for us all. Where we become unable to process loss – either because we could not or did not know how to feel our way through it – that loss gets ‘stuck’ in us and presents as trauma. Trauma can manifest in many ways, depending on the severity, frequency and duration of the traumatic event. At times we may be aware of it, but feel too overwhelmed to start to deal with it; at other times we may not be consciously aware of our trauma, but may be experiencing psychological, emotional or physical symptoms. Or more likely a combination of all three at once!
Through our extensive work in the field of grief, depression, simple trauma and more complex post-traumatic stress disorders, we have come to realise that human beings are systems where the mind, emotional system and body are profoundly integrated. And that any process of deep constructive therapeutic work requires and awareness and an ability to work across all three of these dimensions.
We also take things a step further and work with you not only to process loss and trauma, we also work with you to get curious about how beliefs, coping strategies, behaviours and choices you are making on a daily basis can have profound effects on your experience of being you and of being in a body.
An example of this may be work alongside you in enabling you to feel your emotions in your body (as this is where all emotions originate) without becoming overwhelmed. The first starting point for this is to become curious about what sensations you may be feeling in your body in response to a thought or memory and to get curious about this sensation whilst remaining connected to your body and breath. To do this we incorporate body psychotherapy and mindfulness theory as well as talking therapy.
Once you are able to stay present to your sensations and emotions in your body, we can start to widen the remit to get curious about how you create your experience moment to moment through, for example, posture – how you hold yourself in your body and live in your body. And then we can consider how lifestyle choices may be having a dramatic effect on your experience – for example the impact that a lack of sleep can have on your basic physical and mental well being.
In order to encapsulate our way of working we came up with the term ‘functional psychotherapy’, as we believe that any counselling or psychotherapy process should recognise you as a whole human being – not just a mind. We believe it is our goal to enable you to both process past loss and trauma, learn to manage your emotional state in the present and maximise your resilience against external stressors in the future. In short, we can’t predict what life will throw at you going forward, but we can work with you to find functional and healthy tools that will enable you to deal better with life’s stress.