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SERVICES

Path to Healing for:

  • PTSD

  • Developmental Trauma and Dissociative Disorders

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Somatic blockages and syndromes that are stored in the body

  • Post-surgical shock, accidents, including concussions

  • Addictions and OCD

Healing with Internal Family Systems

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Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a transformative method that assumes that all humans have an inherent mind system that automatically protects itself with inner Parts that are led by awareness of Self energy.

 

The IFS model has been used successfully around the world. Evidence-based studies in the United States have proven its efficacy, with studies elsewhere in the pipeline. This approach evolved out of family-as-system therapy, developed by David Bowen in the 1950s, which views the family as an emotional unit with its own transference projections and conflicts passed down through generations.

 

Richard Schwartz, the developer of IFS, recognized the psyche as an inner systemic family system mirroring outer family conflicts and dynamics. The integration of the psyche’s subpersonalities that overwhelm the inner system in response to trauma became the hallmark of the IFS approach.

The IFS model hypothesizes that the mind’s inner family is innate and expresses an inherent compassionate energy, termed Self-energy.

Self-energy is also the healing agency that is required for integrating fragmented Parts, the family of sub-personalities. Parts are somatically experienced as psychological symptoms and bodily feelings.

They take on different roles when triggered, termed as:

Manager Parts – Managing the system to go-on with life;

Guides – Energetic or spiritual helpers;  

Fire Fighters – Keeping the system safe at all cost; and

Exiled Parts – Dissociated and fragmented Parts that carry inherited or childhood trauma, expressed as flight/fight/freeze responses.

When Parts cry for help and this is witnessed and acknowledged, new insights naturally arise and the change process occurs. Thus, the Parts become integrated.

To be effective and stay co-regulated, the therapist must develop a strong relationship with their own Self-energy. This enables the therapist to mirror to the client how to heal themselves with the agency of their own Self-energy. The IFS model is not concerned with the cognitive hypothesis that focuses on changing thought-behaviours. Instead, IFS concentrates on the way Parts can be experienced and integrated by reconnecting with the Self-energy. As such it is an experiential psycho-therapeutic approach.

The IFS method is non-pathologizing in its focus on understanding the issues that keep the inner family of Parts disconnected or conflicted. IFS focuses on understanding the Parts that carry the burden of trauma, by facilitating their re-connection with the Self’s inherent healthy energy, energy that is not impacted by trauma or conflict.

 

It is marked by 8 Cs:

  1. confidence,

  2. calmness,

  3. compassion,

  4. courage,

  5. creativity,

  6. clarity,

  7. curiosity, and

  8. connectedness.

 

The totality of this Self-energy enables a natural healing process from the inside out.

Developer Dick Schwartz titled one of his books

“No Bad Parts.” Parts can behave horribly, can cause damage or trouble.

 

When the Parts are willing to unburden the traumatic feelings, emotions, and negative beliefs carried from reactions to traumatic events, they tend to transform back into healthy natural states.

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Healing with Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

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EMDR focusses on a person’s present concerns and past emotionally charged experiences. Francine Shapiro, EMDR’s developer, discovered that certain eye movements can heal past unresolved trauma and negative beliefs about ourselves.

 

EMDR has been proven to unfreeze neural network related to past unresolved habitual survival reactivity that continues to play a role in one’s day-to-day activities. During EMDR, a structured process of mindful focus on trauma memories with the simultaneous use of eye movements or butterfly-hug tapping, using short intervals. This process enables the brain to return to its inherent plasticity.

By reprocessing negative and positive beliefs about the self, the charge caused by these traumatic memories are gradually healed. The short intervals make it safe to reprocess traumatic information until it no longer feels upsetting.

EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 90s, who found that certain eye moments decreased the intensity of distressing memories. This technique is termed bilateral stimulation which has a desensitizing effect on distressing memories and beliefs.

 

It has been validated by more than 30 randomized, controlled studies and has helped millions of people worldwide.

EMDR uses 8 phases for reprocessing negative beliefs, emotions, and disturbing memories in a step-by-step process which includes past, present, and future events. This thorough process is designed to break through such interferences as feelings of helplessness, unlovableness, and worthlessness to develop a more supportive self-image.

 

EMDR therapy has been shown to heal both single traumas and more complex PTSD and dissociative disorders. The length of time it takes to accomplish treatment goals depends on the complexity of the problem. Frequently, several treatment approaches, such as Internal Family Systems and Somatic Experiencing are woven into the treatment plan to achieve integration of one’s innate healthy resilience and brain plasticity.

 

For more information:

emdrconsulting.com

leadingedgeseminars.org

www.emdria.org

www.emdrcanada.org

www.emdr-europe.org

www.emdriafoundation.org/

Healing with the Systemic Constellation Method – using somatic awareness and co-regulation techniques

Butterflies

The Constellation Method was developed in the last century by Bert Hellinger. Constellations support the client in changing the inner image of the family system when they are rooted in pervasive trauma conflicts. Loyalties and entanglements cover a broad range wartime PTSD, to societal, family, and personal disturbances.

Constellations, in group using representatives or one-on-one personal sessions with footprints, are used to set up a prevailing issue and/or conflict. What exactly is experienced in constellation sessions is understood as emanating from a group consciousness that participants resonate with. This was similarly shown by Levy Moreno (1889-1974), the originator of psychodrama, and Virginia Satir (1917-1988). Moreno had clients act out their lives or dreams to gain insights into their affect states. Satir worked more systemically by having participants enact dynamics of the whole family.

Hellinger deepened the systemic effects of psychodrama by showing that unacquainted members of the constellation group can reveal a person’s implicit conflicts and stigmas. He referred to transgenerational traumas as the hidden loyalties the client’s system was entangled in or loyal to.

Thus, to reveal the hidden dynamics of the client’s system, it is not necessary for the client to be acquainted with others in the group. Yet, the persons mirroring the presenting issue, are able to effectively represent  that will be represent be acquainted with the representatives that represent the client’s conflict in the constellation. Once these hidden dynamics reveal the survival reaction and reasons for the client’s dissociation, this inner journey will find a solution beyond pathology.

 

Once the survival responses which manifest as protective stances, unravels, the nervous system releases healing movements that reveal insights that had been frozen due to the shock of ruptured attachment needs.

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Constellations show a mirror image of the family’s history of systemic trauma in the momentary ‘consciousness’ of the constellation. This mirroring effect enables participants (unacquainted with the client) to experience and reveal hidden dynamics of the client’s family structure, such as feeling a sudden bursts of anger or shame (Franke, 2003; Hausner, 2011; Hellinger et al, 1998-1999).

Quoting Hausner (2022, unpublished interview):

 

"The mystery of a constellation is that we do not know what is shown. It is nothing else than an answer to the right question – that the client knows the effect of their restrictions.
 
I work with making the client curious towards leaving the restrictions behind in order to live with more flexibility and joy.”

Participants often reveal sensations, such shameful secrets in the client’s family, that seem to match the concealed existence of a sibling, a murdered family member, and other unprocessed entanglements with unresolved traumas.

 

Access to hidden emotional traumas requires from both the client, therapist, and the therapeutic group a non-judgemental, open, and curious stance. The key skill during Constellations is dual-awareness of the somatic-felt sense that points to hidden introjects and systemic forces of the apparent elephant in the room.

Healing with Somatic Psychotherapies

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Anky has worked for many decades with a variety of somatic-oriented approaches. She became certified in Somatic Experiencing (SEP) with Peter Levine, and Integral Somatic Psychology (ISP) with Raja Selvam. She studied, among others, with Eugene Gendling, developer of Focussing and the Felt Sense, Stephen Porges, developer of the Polyvagal theory, Pat Ogden, developer of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Janina Fisher, developer of Healing the Fragmented Selves and Complex Trauma (CTTP-CCTP-II), and Daniel Siegel, developer of Interpersonal Neurobiology.   

 

These approaches use somatic listening – felt bodily sensations, to access latent trauma-related memories. According to Peter Levine, developer of Somatic Experiencing, “the paradox of trauma is that it has the power to destroy and the power to transform and heal.” Listening to the subtle body sensations involving anxiety and depression allows the nervous system to resolve hidden freeze states.

Subtle body communication involves the art of tracking and the power of observation to body sensations as therapeutic tools.
 
The ‘language’ of the body speaks what words alone sometimes cannot express. The relational space of the therapeutic alliance can feel either safe, warm, light, and loving, or empty, distant, unsafe, hostile, disconnected, and/or turbulent. All of these are feeling that mirror latent memories.
 
Somatic co-regulation enables the nervous system to gradually move towards the resolution of feeling safe and connected.

Key elements of somatic body-awareness include the integration of sensations, emotions, and cognition with presence (interoceptive, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic awareness of the stress-response), titration (slowing down of defensive survival responses); pendulation of trauma discharge (going back-and-forth between affect and orientating). These techniques facilitate the unlocking of frozen states such as fight or flight cycles (positive feedback loops with negative consequences).

 

Somatic psychotherapeutic techniques restore the innate capacity of the nervous system that is struggling with feelings, such as fear and helplessness, towards adaptive resilience and wholeness.

Trees From Above

Over the last several decades (Affective-) Neuroscience has started to recognize that trauma impacts the client’s sense of identity, interpersonal relatedness, and emotional (dys-)regulation. This has elucidated an understanding that healing of trauma-based fragmentation requires the processing of non-verbal and implicit experiences of somatically-held memories. With other words: the body could no longer be ignored.

 

Meta-analysis of various somatic approaches has shown that emotional coregulation enhances emotional stability for the client as well as the therapist. This also enhances the effectiveness of the therapeutic process.

Under threat, the nervous system will respond autonomically in different ways by fighting, freezing, or fleeing. More subtle ways include submission, crying for help or people pleasing, all in an attempt to stay safe. See diaphragm, adapted from Dr. Janina Fisher’s lectures (2015).

Freeze

  • Marked by stillness

  • Feeling frozen, cannot move

  • Breath is shallow or held

  • Deer in the headlights

  • eyes are still

  • Hyper aware of body sensations.

Flight

  • Startles easily

  • Hyper-vigilant

  • Breathing rapidly into upper chest

  • Eyes darting

  • Racing thoughts

  • Jumpy or fidgeting

  • Difficulty slowing down or connecting to the body.

Fight

  • Tension in jaw, arms, hands, legs

  • Audible breath, exerted exhale

  • Aggressive posturing

  • Furrowed brow, eyes narrowed

  • Can't relax in body.

Fawn

  • Highly aware of other's somatic cues

  • Posture leans forward, chin forward

  • Eyes reaching or scanning

  • Care taking or co-dependence

  • Disconnected from own body and needs.

Submit

  • Focused on attachment even if to the perpetrator

  • Surrender a will of one's own

  • Longing to belong

  • Loss of a "sense of self"

  • Hunched shoulders

  • Dulling of the senses

Faint

  • Collapsed into stillness

  • Reduced heart rate

  • Eyes downcast

  • Breath is shallow

  • Nausea, dizziness, blurred vision

  • Surrender a will of one's own

  • Disgust, lips curled down

  • Numbness, disconnected from body.

When we consider somatic co-regulation, the question arises:

 

Whose voice and sensation am I listening to?

 

According to Dr Daniel Siegel, the art of listening to subtle body sensations, inner family parts, and introject, and beyond (systemic dynamics), lies in the ability to differentiate oneself while staying connected.

According to researchers, such as Peter Levine, Ruth Lanius, Daniel Siegel, Stephan Porges, and Pat Ogden, healing requires that we feel safe and connected. When the mind is able to stay present in the here-and-now, our Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) also stays online, allowing us to have clarity about boundaries, decisions, and staying kind to others.  Effective neuroscience has shown that by staying present and attuned, known as Window of Tolerance, we can start to heal. In the diagram below you can see how feeling triggered leads to hyper-arousal or to numbness and depression, known as hypo-arousal.

 

Clients tend to feel stuck in hypo- or hyper-arousal, which triggers the same responses in almost all situations, such as negative beliefs, emotions, lethargy, numbness, a desire to flee, and so forth. Maintaining the dual awareness of both the therapist and the client will strengthen adaptive changes towards healing and flourishing.

 

For more information see:

www.traumahealing.org

www.somaticexperiencing.com

www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org

www.dianepooleheller.com   and  traumasolutions.com

www.rhythmofregulation.com/

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