Dear Aspire Too,
I’ve been to a couple of counselors but although I found the sessions quite useful, I’m still having trouble with anxiety. Sometimes the way I feel scares me. My heart starts beating fast and I feel like I can’t breathe. It comes out of nowhere and I don’t even know why. Where can I go from here?
Dear Anxiously Concerned,
Often when people think of counselling or therapy, they think of telling someone their story, with all the thoughts and emotions that may come with that, and having the therapist provide emotional support and helpful suggestions. All of these are certainly important parts of therapy. When we have issues we need help with, we are seeking help with our thoughts and support for some of the difficult feelings we might be having at that time.
But think for a minute about what’s missing in this picture. When you are stressed or sad or angry or anxious, where do you feel these things? Yes! In the body! We all can remember a time when our anger or our worry caused our hearts to beat faster, our breath to speed up and become more shallow and our muscles to tense. Or perhaps we remember a time when we felt like our body was limp or maybe a little ‘numb’. And then let’s end on a memory of a time when we are doing something that we love more than anything in the world, or spending time with someone who feels safe and loves us unconditionally.
When we remember back to those times, we might feel very different sensations in our bodies. We might feel warm waves of peace or like our chest feels large and expanded or a lightness in our arms and legs. All of these things can be called a ‘felt sense’. Something that is often not easily described in words but powerful nonetheless!
Our emotions and even our thoughts find expression in our bodies. This is called somatic (body) experience and it’s a powerful, vital and rich part of our entire expression of life. Unfortunately, this powerful ‘somatic experience’ can feel overwhelming or distressing when we’re dealing with a difficult feeling such as anger or anxiety or trauma. In those moments, our body can even feel like our enemy.
Somatic Experiencing ® is a gentle and natural modality of healing that goes beyond ‘talk therapy’ and includes the body’s felt sense to help clients release the energy that can become ‘bound up’ in the body as a result of difficult circumstances. It can be effective in dealing with such issues as self-esteem and confidence, anxiety, depression, trauma, escalation issues in relationships and more. It has the added benefit that the body is included in the therapeutic process without touch needing to be involved. If you are feeling that your body ‘takes over’ when you’re angry or stressed, or if you have experienced trauma, Somatic Experiencing ® may be able to help you begin to feel more moments of inner balance, restfulness and connection, where your body can again feel like a friendly and safe space to inhabit.
Mischa Davison, BA, B.Ed., M.Ed., Registered Psychologist (Provisional)
If you would like to explore whether Somatic Experiencing is for you, call 306-382-2391 to book an appointment with Mischa Davison or visit our website at www.aspiretoo.ca .