Most of us recognize the value of attending talk therapy sessions as part of our healing process. But what about the impact on our body? It’s important to understand that deeper healing may require a more comprehensive treatment plan. Longer term healing includes the emotional, physical and spiritual health realms as well. A multi-disciplinary focus can be beneficial in creating the conditions for deeper healing to occur. Rising Tides Healing Centre was created with holistic healing approaches in mind. You can visit our website to learn more about our multi-disciplinary partners and services we currently have available at our centre.
Mind, Body & Spirit
When we experience distress in one area of our functioning, we are more likely to suffer negative impacts in another area of our well-being. We might notice this in a variety of ways. A chronic physical health condition might have a negative impact on our mental wellness. Or an emotional disturbance can lead us to moral or spiritual distress. As human beings, we are holistic in nature and it is not easy to separate our treatment into separate realms.
Fight, Flight, Freeze
What happens in our body when we are faced with a threat? Our brain is continuously scanning our environment, noticing any sensory information that might signal distress. If a threat is detected, the brain triggers an alert throughout the body via the nervous system and prepares our physical system to respond.
This is the response of our sympathetic nervous system, often experienced as symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, muscle tightening or nausea. We prepare for fight, flight or freeze. After our nervous system is activated and if the threat has passed, our parasympathetic restores the body to return to it’s previous function. Our breath slows down, our heart rate regulates and our body receives the information that we are safe and the threat has passed.
You can now understand why being exposed to stress or a threat on a regular basis would have a negative impact on our physical bodies. In fact, people who have experienced a life-threatening situation such as trauma, might remain stuck in this heightened state of stress response within the body, unable to return to it’s previous baseline of feeling safe. This is why full mind, body and spirit healing approaches are often necessary to heal in this process. We may need to teach the body how to experience safety again.
Top Down or Bottom Up?
There are a variety of approaches that are used to treat stress and trauma. Top down talk therapy approaches examine the thinking processes that contribute to the “fight or flight” response in our bodies. Some of the questions that may be considered in this treatment approach: “Am I interpreting the situation appropriately? Is this threat real or perceived? Am I safe now?”. Top down approaches, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, can help us to respond more appropriately to the current situation.
Bottoms up approaches in therapy generally begin by recognizing the physical responses that are often connected to the emotional response and memory of the experience. These types of therapeutic approaches include EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and EFT (emotional freedom technique). With bottoms up approaches, interventions may focus on grounding the body and recognizing feelings of safety while working with the traumatic memory.
Talk Therapy Connections
Healing from trauma often involves restoring connections between the mind, body and spirit. One of the best ways to begin a healing journey is by being attentive to how these are experienced within our bodies. We recently discussed this in more detail during one of our weekly Facebook Tidal Talk video series if you are interested in learning more about this topic.