Trauma, Physical Pain and Tension as a Precursor to Movement

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Giacometti – Nauman exhibition at the Schirn Mueseum in Frankfurt Germany. Here I came across this beautiful Giacometti sculpture.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Skype Counselling Geelong

This woman immediately transported me back to my psychotherapy rooms. She reminds me of many of the people I have worked with over the years affected by trauma.

Look closely. What does her body tell you?

I see armpits that cannot breathe, a tight belly, a body in contraction.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapists, working with trauma have a saying, “tension is a precursor to movement”.

For us trauma therapists and counsellors, physical tension isn't always structural, but is often an indication of a motor movement wanting to happen. Some patterning that exists in the body, stuck or distorting, in search of satisfaction, release or completion. A push, a movement into flight, maybe a reaching for support or care.

I can't help wonder what happened to Giacometti's lady. Does she carry her own trauma history?

http://www.schirn.de/en/exhibitions/2016/giacometti_nauman/

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy on the Bellarine Peninsular

Dear friends, colleagues and clients,

Thank you for your support and interest in my work over the past year. 

As 2016 winds down, I am celebrating a full year both personally and professionally.  

At this time of year, I find it useful to reflect on what has transpired - the demands that life has placed on us, the shifts and adjustments we have made to better support ourselves, and last but by no means least, our accomplishments.  

On a personal note, one of the more significant changes for me this year has been moving from Melbourne to Torquay.  Life here suits me well and the transition has been surprisingly smooth. I am enjoying the space, the slower pace of life, and of course the waves! 

I will continue to run my private practice in Melbourne on Thursdays and Fridays, whilst also building my practice closer to home. 

I have recently set set-up counselling rooms in Torquay Bellarine Peninsular, at Torquay Shiatsu and am available Monday and Wednesdays.

I have a few special thank-you's to make.

Thank you to those of you who participated in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at Ohana Yoga earlier this year – and to Gena Kenny for generously accomodating us at her beautiful studio. I won't continue teaching this program in Melbourne. At the moment it feels best to be in the one place as much as possible, and therefore to limit my city time to private practice and family. I am looking at establishing a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program closer to home. 

Thanks to those who attended one of my talks on Trauma and the Body. I am proud to say I presented this talk to roughly 120 people, over 6 sell-out events. We have a few more sessions scheduled for February and March 2017, and the Embodied Therapist workshop commencing in April.   

A very special thank you to those of you that have seen me for psychotherapy. Your commitment to your own processes of growth and discovery continues to touch and inspire me.  I appreciate the opportunity to be part of your journey. 

Finally, thank you to my teachers, supervisors and dear friends. Your fresh and steady voices continue to support, deepen and enable my own processes of growth and adventures along the road less travelled. I certainly couldn't do the work I do without you. 

Journey well and safely over the summer months.

Best wishes,

Sarah

P.S Here's me, day one at Torquay Shiatsu

 

counsellorpsychotherapistgeelong

Meet the Most Amazing Nerve in your Body

Meet the most amazing nerve in your body. The 10th cranial nerve. A.K.A the vagus (wandering) nerve, the longest nerve in your body.

vagus-nerve-image.jpg

I first came to understand the vagus nerve through my Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training. The vagus nerve, made famous by Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal Theory, enables you to  love, feel empathy, socially bonding, and have your gut instincts and be perceptive. It determines social engagement. It's worth getting to know, especially if you work with trauma or therapeutically. 

The Polyvagal Theory has shed light and enlarged our understanding of nervous system function, attachment issues and trauma responses.

When there is a neuroception of safety, the myelinated branch of the 10th cranial nerve (the ventral vagus), inhibits the fight/flight trauma response of the sympathetic nervous system to activate the social engagement system.

The vagus nerve runs from the hypothalamus area of your brain, (which links the nervous system to the endocrine system), through your throat (tongue, jaw) and chest and diaphragm. It wraps around your heart and solar plexus and continues into your stomach and all your digestive organs. It connects and influences your key energy centres, your third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus and second chakras.

Psychotherapists intentionally work with their client's social engagement system through voice tone, proximity, quality of eye gaze, and body language.  Yet, these aspects of relating play out in all relational exchanges and can help explain the quality of connection we develop with certain people, and also why other people trigger us.

Working with movement, breath and touch actively also engage the vagus nerve. For example, qi gong healing sounds and yogic breathing activates key ventral vagal outlets, eyes, lips, and jaw. Touch releases oxytocin, and gentle movement can discharge tension which is a cause and result of sympathetic activation. This is why yoga and embodied movement practice prove so therapeutic. 

My latest experiment is making eye contact and smiling at strangers. Here I'm actively working with my social engagement system, and secretly playing with someone else’s! 

We are so lucky to live in a time that supports and extends a truly holistic psychological approach to healing and wellbeing. Psychotherapy has so much to offer spiritual and movement practices, and the same is true in terms of these practices offer the field of psychotherapy. Let's keep sharing, practicing and integrating!

Sensorimotor Resources

I decided to add a Sensorimotor Psychotherapy resources page to my website, mainly because I often come across interesting talks, articles, books and website that support a Sensorimotor approach. Let's start with this inspiring TED Talk by Dr. Andy Harkin, who actually lives in Australia. Andy is a Sensorimotor Psychotherapist, although I noticed that he describes himself in this talk as a somatic therapist. Perhaps, because Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is still relatively new here in Australia (yet growing exponentially).

In this talk, Andy Harkin speaks to the importance of reclaiming a sense of health, and a sense of belonging in the body as a birthright. I hope you enjoy it.