Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Counselling and talking therapies are traditionally the most common form of mental health treatment.  Approaches that use top-down brain processing have limitations as trauma is encoded in the brain and generates bottom up processing and symptoms remain long after exposure has ended.  Individuals can therefore react to stimuli in the current day that reminds them of events that have past.  They continue to replay what happened then within what they do in the current day.  It can mean that sometimes the way a person responds is out of proportion to what they are currently faced with but reflects what they experienced in the past and would have been suitable then.  As such treatment that focuses on the body and brain connection is vital in processing trauma held within the whole of an individual.  Therefore a specialist intervention is needed. EMDR is commonly used and can be accessed on the NHS or with trained practitioners.  Sensorimotor psychotherapy is another treatment that encourages a person’s natural ability to process difficulty and return to a state of recovery and health.  The mind and body can become stuck in loops and sensorimotor psychotherapy treats the systems keeping the trauma (or loop) alive.

Being able to detach to deal effectively with unusual work situations or having to make life and death decisions without becoming overwhelmed makes for a perfect frontline service professional.  However exposure to difficult situations can mean certain coping styles get overused and the emotion remains trapped and unable to be processed.  Help is then needed to aid recovery and return to health rather than reacting automatically. 

 

R&R (rest and recuperation) has traditionally been associated with the military to help individuals adjust following active service.  They are offered a period of absence following active service to help acclimatise to daily life outside the challenges associated with the 'cauldron of war'.  But neuroscience, body orientated psychology and biology tells us that exposure to trauma or potentially life threatening situations can compromise a person's ability to recover and reduce their effectiveness at work and home.  Something more specialist is needed to restore someone to health.  There is no shame in that.

Psychodynamic theory also suggests that we see the present through the dynamics of the past.  This means that sometimes what we face in the current day can remind us of past experiences.  So alongside challenging work experiences, being a frontline professional may also trigger earlier experiences that have appeared benign or that have been coped with.  Because those early attachments or experiences create the templates they can then influence our current relationships and influence how we manage in the current day.  We can superimpose past feelings and re-experience them.  For example a death of a colleague could trigger unresolved grief from an earlier death or loss.  Psychodynamic theory can help people understand how past attachments and experiences are impacting upon them and how they have become relevant in the current day enabling them to regain a full and healthy life.

​© 2019 by Karen Butler for R&R Treatment Services.

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