We are living lives alienated, repressing and avoiding the body. This is a chronic issue, which cuts people off from their whole sense of self and causes many mental and emotional distress, physical illness, relationship conflict, and addictive behaviours. The reality is that clients suffering with long-term chronic health issues are more likely have a complex array of mental and emotional symptoms as well as physical ones.
The allopathic medical model looks at illness & symptoms from a curative angle. The body is seen as machine to fix & symptoms either fit or don’t fit into certain criteria. Problems arise with this approach to the body as a linear machine. A lot of symptoms are unexpected & unexplainable can arise purely to rebel against this old school blueprint for the body.
Illness is pathologised & seen as a failure on the individual’s part, clients are seen as lacking responsibility for their bodies. This simplifies the issues & actually stops people getting interested & curious about working with their symptoms. With this view, good health becomes the benchmark, which is aligned with being responsible, anything else is seen as a social taboo & something to be fixed. A lot of the pain with chronic body symptoms can come from this rank dynamics & the stigma when suffering from pain. Chronic symptoms are marginalised as is disability.
So we all know how to be linear about our body – going to the gym for example is how we can help our body in a linear way. But when the body behaves in ways that we don’t expect, don’t like, & the traditional allopathic models don’t work or offer what you feel you really need, its time to look beyond the linear answers to discover new opportunities for growth & health.
There is hope & I offer a new opportunity for deep healing. Chronic health conditions can be calling for us to get back in touch with ourselves so we can move forward with greater awareness and empowerment. Creative forces can be contained within symptoms that when released bring us a whole new lease of life.
While most psychological work approaches the mind and emotions as a pathology that needs to be helped to be healthy and more balanced, I go beyond this. My premise is that there is an innate intelligence in the subconscious and that this is requiring expression through our behaviours, dreams and of course our chronic physical symptoms. I support you to unfold and follow this expression, to aid integration and awareness to assist in the healing of long standing physical complaints.
My approach is unique & opens clients to new ways of perceiving chronic body symptom. We also have a holistic approach to working with the body symptoms through working with homeopathy. I do not take a curative angle or that we must fight illness, although our goal is for clients to be happier in & of themselves.
Lets focus on the body as a present-moment access point for bringing awareness to and individuating from early internalised patterns. Lets explore how body experiences offers inner awareness and insight into cultural patterns, power structures, and social dynamics in the client’s outer world. Lets look at illness/disabilities as an experience of diversity. Lets look at how recovering from chronic ill health issues might require a paradigm shift within the individual as a way of approaching both physical and psychological issues differently.
Essentially, health crises can serve as catalysts for transformation. Our body serves as a resource for enhancing self-awareness, but most people do not attend to their embodied experiences until necessitated by crisis. Chronic pain and symptoms are seen as something to be re-conquered. Crisis makes us “wake up” and listen to our body and feelings: getting in touch, to release some of the old hurt feelings of my childhood, acknowledging the anger and pain as a result of the tragedies of her childhood. Expressing feelings enabled a “release and recovery”.
Important themes to discuss when working with chronic health issues:
- Body – as a pattern or process rather than an isolated, non interacting object
- Body image – yours but also collective
- Physical health – valued and being ill
- Energy levels – valued versus not valued, lots of energy, productivity, being creative versus low energy
- Fitness and strength
- Death and dying – related to age and illness – people fear death when they have illness as illness is viewed as a precursor to death
What We Might Need To Explore In More Detail:
- The unexpected, feared & so-called irrational symptoms & experiences contained within the body
- What these signals that we focusing on are – what is the information there, what is trying to be expressed
- We learn to perceive the body in a different way
- What your perception and relationship to body is – is it an expression of you, or do you see it as a mechanical item that needs taking care of or fixing. Is it a limited attitude – without the body I don’t exist.
- Attitudes, negative beliefs, values, other peoples views that are internalised and turned against yourself
- Other people’s belief systems – what our family, culture & society teach us about our bodies – social stigma, cultural ideals or standards about the body, beauty standards overtly or unconsciously oppressive
- Emotional states that trigger chain reactions that effect blood chemistry, heart rate, and the activity within the body
- Social stigma of aging: cultural standards of beauty which might not be particularly oppressive but rather oppressed by the additional layer of ageism that discounts older women because they no longer fulfil those cultural ideals
- Unresolved psychological and emotional traumas that can be held and physically manifested in chronic muscular holding patterns – muscular ‘armouring’, ‘segments’ of the body – armouring contains the history and meaning of its origin – traumatic events also contain memory
- Systematic analysis of character pattern, and direct (body) work techniques on the muscular holding patterns, especially when working with the person’s breathing pattern
- Dreams – our body symptoms reflect in our dreams & vice versa