A brief overview of theory I may use in our work

The Autonomic Nervous System

The Polyvagal Theory is a revolutionary perspective in neuroscience that explains our physiological response to safety and danger. It provides a framework for understanding the body's autonomic nervous system and its reaction to stress. With the Polyvagal Theory, our nervous system operates in one of three states: social engagement, fight-or-flight, or shutdown. These states are inherently linked to feelings of safety, danger, and life threat.

The vagus nerve is integral not only to our physical wellbeing but also to our emotional and social health. As the longest cranial nerve in the human body, the vagus nerve extends from the brainstem to our vital organs. This vagus nerve is the primary component of the autonomic nervous system, which governs our body's unconscious and automatic functions.

Neuroscience: Polyvagal Theory

When we apply the Polyvagal Theory to trauma, we comprehend how traumatic experiences can alter our autonomic nervous system, leading to the chronic activation of 'fight, flight, freeze and fawn' responses. These physiological reactions, inherently linked to feelings of danger, can contribute to conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Trauma therapy often employs principles of the Polyvagal Theory, supporting the healing process by helping individuals understand and manage these automatic responses to stressors. Simultaneously, it underscores the autonomic nervous system's role in our behaviour and emotional state during stressful situations. This holistic approach aids in the restoration of a sense of safety, enabling the individual to self-regulate their responses and build resilience.

Polyvagal theory exercises offer numerous benefits, including improved emotional regulation, stress reduction, increased resilience, and a stronger mind-body connection. These exercises contribute to a balanced mental state and a sense of calm in daily life through diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness-based movements, and gentle movements. The Polyvagal Theory provides powerful insights into our physiological responses to stress and safety, offering a new way to understand and navigate our mind-body connection.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing, a holistic therapeutic approach, incorporates a person's mind, body, spirit, and emotions in the healing process. A modality grounded in the mind-body connection, somatic psychotherapy is the largest branch of somatic psychology. Viewing the mind and body as one entity is essential to the therapeutic process. Given the right environment, this mind/body entity will move toward healing and growth of its own accord, and interpersonal interactions, when conducted safely and respectfully, can positively impact and help regulate the mind/body.

According to somatic therapy theory, the sensations associated with past trauma may become trapped within the body and reflected in facial expressions, posture, muscular pain, or other forms of body language. Therapeutic body techniques can supplement conventional talking therapy approaches to provide holistic healing, resolve deep-rooted mental health issues, or provide psychological insights.

Somatic Psychotherapy

Because past trauma or other psychological concerns may negatively affect a person's autonomic nervous system, people experiencing emotional and psychological issues may also be affected by physical concerns. Somatic psychotherapy practitioners can help individuals become more aware of these bodily sensations and learn to use therapeutic techniques to release any tension the body is holding.

Techniques often used in therapy include breathing exercises and sensation awareness, physical activities such as dance or other movement, voice work, self massage, and grounding exercises. During the session, the person in treatment may be encouraged to reflect on patterns of behaviour and identify any impact these patterns may have on any new emotions, experiences, or concerns in therapy.

It also helps people experience greater self-awareness and connection to others, better sense their own bodies, reduce stress, and explore emotional and physical concerns.

Person-centred Therapy

Client-centred therapy or person-centred therapy focuses on maximising your ability to find your solutions with the right amount of support from me. It is a humanistic approach that deals with how you perceive yourself consciously. The person-centred approach ultimately sees human beings as having an innate tendency to reach their full potential. But this ability has been blocked or distorted by specific life experiences.

A non-directive approach requires you to take control during our session actively. Person-centred therapy is rooted in the belief that the person has all the answers from within to thrive - as your therapist, I empower you to find the answers. You decide what to talk about, not the therapist - and it focuses as much on the present and the past. The goals of this practice include increasing self-awareness, improving your ability to use self-direction to make desired changes, increasing clarity, improving self-esteem and boosting self-confidence.

Person-centred Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy looks at how your unconscious thoughts and perceptions developed throughout childhood and how this affects your behaviour and thoughts today. Psychodynamic therapy aims to create fundamental change in your emotional development by helping you understand and resolve your problems by increasing your awareness of your inner self and how this can influence your relationships.

As your therapist, I help you to gain insight into your past life and present-day issues by looking at certain factors such as emotions, thoughts, early-life experiences and beliefs. By recognising recurring patterns, I help you see how you avoid distress or develop defence mechanisms, allowing you to begin changing those patterns of behaviour. You'll be able to recognise repressed emotions and unconscious influences affecting you that you learn to acknowledge so you can put your emotional life into perspective and express your feelings in healthier ways.

I encourage you to speak freely about your emotions, desires, and fears – being open can help reveal vulnerable feelings that might have been pushed out of conscious awareness. Nothing is taboo.

Psychodynamic Therapy Epsom

My Location

I am an online counsellor based in Epsom in Surrey. I am certified, regulated and insured to practice anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Epsom is close to Kingston upon Thames, Stoneleigh, New Malden, Merton, Sutton, Banstead, Esher, Guildford and Leatherhead.

Contact me

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about how counselling works or to arrange an initial appointment. You can also text me or leave a message on 07305 219 195.

© Sue Wall Therapy

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