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Conversation with Pat Ogden on body posture

A conversation between Pat Ogden of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute and Serge Prengel.   I like the way Pat speaks about the body and I feel like my way of working has some crossover with hers (although I have not trained at her Institute). I also run workshops on Body Language and non-verbal expression (see The Human Cry)

https://mindfulpause.com/ogden/

This is one of a series of interviews or conversations as Serge prefers to call them. I think he is an excellent interviewer who skilfully summarises what he is hearing and often helps the subject to open up and share what needs to be shared. See also https://somaticperspectives.com/

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Find me

See more pictures of Todmorden Therapy Space

During Corona virus restrictions I am being cautious about meeting people indoors so I have adopted some safety procedures and I offer various ways to meet. If it seems unsafe or impractical to meet face-to-face, I offer clients online sessions or outdoor sessions. Working outdoors in the natural surroundings (and weather) of the Calder Valley has been a very popular and effective addition and variant to the seated/indoor options. All of these methods have required specific further training. If you are be interested in in any of these ways you can contact me through this website to arrange a phone/video call.

I work from 2 places in Calderdale – White Rose Mill, Rise Lane, Todmorden OL147AA a ground floor space, see map below (not currently wheelchair accessible). Very close to Todmorden Train Station.

and Hebden Therapy Center, Wragley House, Valley Road, Hebden Bridge HX7 7BN – an upstairs space with a lift and accessible toilet.

Both places are quiet and comfortable with plenty of space to move around work in other ways than a traditional talking therapy, if wanted.

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Different types of therapy

Relational therapy

We all live continuously in relation; to others, to ourselves and to our environment – we are created and shaped by our experiences of relating and thus our complex and layered personality structure is formed. Therapy allows us to learn more about the workings of our unique structure and to work through problems – in relation. Relational therapy pays attention to our relationship, using you and I, in the moment, as a way to observe in real time how we are reacting to another person. We can also then observe what is happening internally; our relationship(s) to ourself(selves).

We may look into the past or think about the future, but there are many clues in the here and now, in what happens between us. How you are in the world and what you want from life can be explored in the safe space we create each week, through openness, compassion and non-judgemental exploration.

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Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

I have worked for many years with clients on the Autistic spectrum; firstly as a creative artist and then as a counsellor. I Currently work part-time with a Manchester based charity called Respect for all which provides free or low cost counselling for people on the spectrum and also for their siblings, carers, parents and partners. Due to the excessive stresses of Coronavirus we are also operating a telephone helpline for Greater Manchester residents. See the website for details.

It was through working as an artist with adults with learning disabilities that I realised that I wanted to train as a psychotherapist, thereby turning an aptitude into a qualified skill.

Many people, especially young people are receiving diagnoses of ASC with little or no understanding of how it might affect them. For some the diagnosis helps to explain some things, for some it can be a confusing or  wounding experience. Counselling can be a good way of exploring these issues and gaining confidence and self-understanding.

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Katherin Stauffer talks about sex and power

I want to share this article because I enjoyed it and also because I think the current debate about sexual harassment is an important one. Serge Prengle is an excellent moderator of discussions and his conversations series is a useful resource for those wishing to learn about body/somatic psychotherapies.

She says; “In cases of abuse the shame that should be with the perpetrator gets transferred to the person who has been abused.” It’s a simple but important thing, a helpful reminder that part of the abuse is this co-creating of shame. This involves or invests the vulnerable party in the creation of a protector for the abuser. It maintains and reinforces the power imbalance.

Then she goes on to say sometimes there is an attempt to return this shame – for the abused person to try to shame the abuser. Which, whilst understandable and perhaps important, rarely helps either party. My question as a therapist is often – what will be helpful?

Kathrin Stauffer reflects on sex & power

 

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Creativity

Creative acts can be transformative and creativity can be key to problem solving.

Aside from the obviously “artistic” activities, many of our  moment-by-moment behaviours, choices and responses require creativity, including our defences. As we decide what to do, or how to respond, our subconscious works to keep us safe and avoid things it has learned to fear.  As children we learned through trial, experiences and through play. Those lessons were embedded deep in the psyche and are held in the body. Some of those lessons may now be holding us back, so creative thinking and creative play can help us contact those deeply held beliefs and feelings in a way that rational discussion can sometimes simply cannot access.

It’s not about artistic expression. It’s about engaging more than the cognitive mind and helping the vague notions and out-of-awareness feelings to emerge into consciousness. Exploration allows us to soften the rational grip and makes room for a more open perspectives, it relaxes the rigidity of thinking that may be needed for change to occur.

Sometimes we cannot understand rationally or cognitively, but we still need to find a way to express or explore our thoughts, feelings or actions.

Sometimes clients and I make drawings or diagrams to represent or catch something elusive. We may come back to these scribbles and schema to help us remember the themes and layers of previous sessions. Patterns appear, symbols speak and feelings become more meaningful.

Sometimes we can lay out objects to illustrate tangled relationships or a complex set of feelings. This enables a perspective, or multiple perspectives to be seen, to be layered…. and even to be challenged.

Sometimes we may need to stand tall, curl up, walk around the room or jump up and down. By changing ourselves physically we encourage different psychological perspectives to emerge.

 

I believe that we are all creative, through necessity. In times of distress, crisis or chaos our creativity can be illuminating, freeing, soothing and so helpful.

And of course it can add humour, fun, relief or distraction where needed.

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Body Psychotherapy

There are many different schools of Body (Somatic) Psychotherapy, from the Focussing work of Eugene Gendlin to the Sensorimotor school, bringing together the psychoanalytic experience of relational therapy and the discoveries of Neuroscience. There are also psychotherapists working with dance and movement who work with the body to bring about release, to unlock memory and to inform discussion from the unconscious. I draw inspiration from these highly effective approaches and share an interest in the body as a store of non-cognitive knowledge. By this I mean that we learn and remember through our experiences and these stay with us, sometimes out of awareness. But this “knowledge” can still be used. We often find that the body is trying to tell us something but we are resisting hearing it. We can take time to listen – I prefer the word attend as there may not be words or clear messages – and we may find out what is holding us back or causing a problem.

I have also studied how the voice changes and inflects in response to desires, defences and fears held in the body. Posture and body tensions can be observed in a detailed way to help our discussion reach carefully into the psyche. By slowing down and observing somatics I Zenegra find we can bypass some of the verbal knots and complexities that bind us to unhelpful ideas and behaviours.

We all know that worry can make us sick. It shows up in the body. Fear, trauma and loss can also have serious physical effects as can identity issues and low self-esteem. I find working with the body often helps to restore health and build up confidence.

Some body therapists use directive touching such as massage or joint manipulation, but I do not use these techniques. I would enquire and help you to notice and attend. Together we may discover or explore what is happening somatically and emotionally. This helps us to balance between thoughts, feelings and actions – the alternatives might include:

  • getting tied up in circular thoughts
  • obsessing on negative ideas
  • low moods or depressive energy making change impossible
  • fear of change
  • being a victim of a habit despite knowing it is bad
  • repeating patterns of behaviour we regret

My work in Music, Theatre, Dance and many other somatic practices have given me valuable insights and skills. It is a way of working that requires sensitivity and curiosity on the part of therapist and client alike. Compassion for ourselves and our bodies is also important.

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The Human Cry workshop

Archive details of free workshops presented as part of Pushing Up Daisies 2019

I use this phrase the human cry to evoke the wordless expression of emotions, through our voices and bodies.

Part 1 (12-2.30) focusses on the voice, it involves discussion and a low level of physical activity. The subject matter may evoke strong feelings and there will be some opportunities to share with others. No-one is required to disclose or reveal anything they do not wish to be known.

Part 2 (3.30-6pm) looks at the body and the body in motion, for those who want to explore this in more expressive ways. They may continue to look further inward and/or to physicalise through movement and vocalising. There will again be opportunities to share with others, though no-one is required to challenge themselves beyond what they feel OK with. As a therapist and workshop leader I am experienced at holding a group and I encourage people to go at their own pace.

I originally developed this workshop to explore how we manifest feelings (especially grief) in the body and the voice. However the same workshop often covers other feelings eg. joy, anger, jealousy, love etc. I use discussion and simple, reflective exercises to guide participants through body observations and safely witness their own somatic feelings – feelings held in the body and observable in the voice and the body. By doing this in a group we share our common experiences and hear a rich variety of views. I encourage safe sharing and supportive observation.

Many aspects of grief are natural, but unresolved feelings can inhabit the body in an unhealthy way. In some cases they can make us ill, angry or depressed. They may even inhibit our grief and block opportunities to share these meaningful moments with others. We may have multiple or conflicting feelings which need to be respected.

Family fallouts are common after a loss and sometimes last for decades as unresolved grief may cement grievances into hard, intractable resentments.

This work aims to develop compassion for our own complicated emotions.

This work aims to bring lightness and ease of expression or communication.

I offer an enjoyable exploration of your own voice. This is not a singing workshop and I take care not to put anyone in a situation they will find uncomfortable, even if what we may express is difficult or painful. This is not therapy but it does require some self examination. I hope it may prove helpful or valuable in your own expressive life and self-development.

What lies behind our words of grief? When words are not enough or even possible…. the body finds a way to communicate our pain, or if it cannot, where does it go?

Like a face, etched with the history of its life,so  the voice is our personal instrument, developed over the history of its use. From the first cries for breath, it’s timbre is honed by daily use, in conversation, conflict and restraint. That which is hard to express may be felt in the body and heard in the voice. Its rises and falls often say more than the words alone. 

This workshop was recently presented at the Cumbrian Conference of Transactional Analysis

To find this and lots of wonderful sessions see the Pushing up Daisies website by clicking here.

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Psychodrama

Psychodrama is a form of therapy using action alongside or instead of talking. It uses dramatisation in a broad sense, including role play, visualisation and action, to explore issues, ideas, conflicts, relationships, history, dreams, fantasies…. and work with them.

This could include:

  • Roleplay, such as rehearsing a difficult conversation with a boss, colleague or family member.
  • In order to separate confusing inner voices we might choose an object to represent each one – then ask direct questions of the object. The client provides the answers but this technique helps them to clearly define them. In this way a client may have a constructive conversation with conflicting parts of their self.
  • Asking someone else to represent a family member so you can dialogue with them.
  • Re-imagining past events from multiple perspectives. Recreations can illuminate the past and provide fresh perspective.

Or it could be a more complex work which helps to explore an issue by dramatising aspects of it or by reimagining it as you might want it to be. This allows for reflection, contemplation, insight and an experiential view.

These techniques are very effective for working through complicated or frightening issues, for coming to terms with changes or getting a different perspective. They also have the advantage of accessing embodied memory or deep subconcious levels of knowledge. It’s not as scary as it sounds, it can be even be playful and joyous.

Psychodrama was developed by Jacob L Moreno in the early 1900’s and is considered by many to be the genesis of group therapy and many commonly used therapy techniques.

I have a 1 year certificate in action methods awarded by the Northern School of Psychodrama.

Learn more at BPA or The Northern School.

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Therapy or counselling

What is the difference between therapy and counselling?

Opinions differ but I feel like therapy and counselling often overlap and I find in my work that I do both.

I understand counselling as essentially a listening process, through which people gain perspective, find a voice and share their experiences without judgement or criticism. This process can be illuminating, empowering or cathartic. Sometimes sharing your story is a first step toward changing the narrative.

In therapy the client works towards a process of change. This may involve explorations and insights, it may involve discoveries and challenges. But the process should be held safely by the therapist and the direction or purpose of change should be agreed and understood by the client, usually through an agreed contract.

In simple terms, counselling tends to be shorter, often focussed on one particular issue, whereas therapy may take longer and be more open to exploration.

Feel free to ask for clarification if you are not sure. The first session is a good time to ask questions.