Every psychotherapist has a view on what therapy is and how they practice. As I write this blog, I am drawn to my bookshelf filled with tomes by both historical and modern clinicians, detailing precisely how to practice this art that is psychotherapy.
Having recently commissioned a set of videos introducing Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy and explaining how my colleague Sam Jahara and I work, I was faced with the daunting prospect of trying to convey just this – how I practice – in a couple of hundred words, no easy task!
However, the process of writing my script and recording my video to camera has brought into focus for me what I believe works in bringing about therapeutic change and it comes down to two fundamentals. Want to know more? Then read on:
My first guiding principle is on the importance of Mind–Body integration.
What do I mean by this?
Well, our bodies are literally where our emotions originate and where trauma is held. In Freud’s language, we can say that the unconscious resides in the body.
And it is by using our minds – our conscious – that we can make sense of what we are feeling and can begin to stop emotions driven by past experiences from dominating our present lives.
Healing cannot happen without this mind–body integration. My job, therefore, is to help you to learn to feel all of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed or needing to cut them off.
This means paying attention to your emotions in your body while holding onto a thinking mind.
The second principle that guides my work is a profound belief in the power of the therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist.
You see, most of our trauma happens in relationship and I believe that it can therefore only be healed in relationship. The relationship with a psychotherapist is an environment where profound healing can happen through not only learning to make sense of our feelings, but in allowing ourselves to feel emotionally witnessed and validated by another human being.
So there you have it – integration and affect regulation through the therapeutic relationship are, in my view, the key fundamentals leading to change. Keep an eye out for our new videos which will be uploaded to our website in the coming weeks to find out more about me, Sam and our practice!
Mark Vahrmeyer is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist working in private practice and palliative care.
Photo credit: Sander van der Wel