Updated: Jul 15
The decision to seek therapy is a brave one. I hope the questions and answers below take some of the trepidation out of it!
What happens in therapy? For individual sessions, we spend as much time as you need talking about what's bothering you. I'm taking careful note of what you say and how you feel, and asking you questions. Then we do some TAT together (see below for what that is). We're both pretty relaxed by the end of sessions, which typically take an hour and a half. You then give me some feedback by email about what's come up since our session, and we take it from there, based on what you want.
One thing I like to do is to teach my clients how to use energy tools and techniques for themselves as we go along, so they're never without ways to reduce or eliminate uncomfortable feelings in the moment.
What about in seminars or groups? Ah, the alchemy of a group can be an amazing thing! Everyone benefits in some way. Typically I will explain what we're doing together, how the healing is thought to happen, and what attendees need to know to get the most out of the experience. There may be writing involved, but no one has to divulge anything that they want to work on. Then we do TAT together. I may throw in some other modalities like EFT, particularly if anyone wants to share that they feel stuck. You can go a long way in an hour and a half. It's always lovely to see a room full of relaxed, grounded people at the end. (For deeper, more personal issues, however, you might want some individual help.)
What is therapy, anyway? And what's the point? All of us are much more complicated than we think we are - which is not a bad thing to realise, especially when there's something we can do to clarify and guide our steps. We're all subject to our biology, but also to the influence of our experiences. Nature and nurture are woven together.
For instance, we now know that around 95% of our brain activity at any moment is not conscious. We often think of our selves as being our thoughts - but our thoughts, usually in a jumble of beta waves, are just the parts of us that we notice, like the branches of a tree with deep, wide and complex roots.
Good therapy doesn't impose any beliefs on you, or create obligations on your "tree" to grow this way or that. Good therapy just shines a light. The goal is always for your life to work better. A good therapist is trained to spot patterns of thought and beliefs that have brought pain, discomfort or just less-than-optimal ease into your life, so that you can really make choices with clarity and commitment, joy even! - rather than confusion, rather than anxiety. It's easier said than done, which is where energy therapies come to the rescue.
What are energy therapies anyway? And how are they different from more traditional therapy, like CBT? Energy therapies hold that thoughts, physical sensations, emotions and beliefs are things. If we're all made up of energy on some level, we can use energy to shift energy. Approaches can be vastly different, but all energy therapies really do is act directly on these things, if they're causing trouble, so that they're in harmony with good physical, mental and emotional health.
The idea that just changing our thoughts will change our reality - there's a lot of truth to that. But changing our thoughts can be really difficult if we're literally physically wired to think a certain way, especially when stressed. Energy therapy asks the question: What if by changing our reality (ie, our physical reality through working with our bodies), we can change our thoughts? What would happen then? How would our lives change?
Osteopaths know that working on the body can release a flood of pent-up emotion at times. Physical pain and emotional pain are often one and the same.
Acupuncture, which was first documented in 100BC, works on energy meridians with needles. You could say that meditation is an energy therapy, as it can calm the nervous system and allow new states of being to take hold. But there are many other modalities with a really good base of scientific evidence for their effectiveness, like EMDR and biofeedback. EFT too. And my favourite, TAT, has been the subject of a successful study by a pharmaceutical company, and is currently being studied by an American university for its effectiveness in healing the Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) that can cause serious problems years later.
Twenty years ago, mainstream psychological practice was dominated by training in psychoanalysis, psychodynamic, behavioural, existentialist, or person-centred (etc) methods. Psychiatry, meanwhile, evolved to think only in terms of biology, and how drugs could influence biology. This "stay in your lane", top-down approach has helped many people, but often, not completely, and it could and can take years to integrate positive change.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is brilliant, and well-studied, but it's one thing to identify something that you'd like to change, and another to actually alter your physical brain to fire differently in response to a situation or a memory or an emotion. The energy therapies I use can do that.
I've had it happen to me, countless times, working with a practitioner or by myself. At the beginning of a session I'd be traumatised by a memory, feeling upset, panic breathing and tensed up - and by the end I couldn't wind myself up about it no matter how hard I tried. Amazing!
So what is TAT? The easiest way I can describe TAT is as a guided meditation, while touching acupressure points on the head - and looking at a particular problem from all angles, in order to process the problem once and for all. Memories, reactions, emotions, beliefs, unconscious decisions to do or not do things - it can all get resolved.
Tapas Acupressure Techniques has been developed over many years by Tapas Fleming, a licensed acupuncturist (here's the website: TATLife.com). In treating allergies, Tapas found that many of her patients would experience memories and emotional reactions that were kind of like allergies themselves. She found that she didn't need to use needles to resolve these problems; a light touch to key acupressure points in the head worked even better.
Since that time, back in the 90s, TAT has helped countless people lead freer, happier lives - me included. That's why I studied to become a practitioner, and that's why I still use TAT in my own life regularly. It's brilliant. I never cease to be amazed.
What is EFT? How is EFT different from TAT, and how can they work together? Emotional Freedom Techniques has been accepted by the American Psychological Association (APA) as highly efficacious in treating PTSD, as a result of a great deal of scientific evidence. EFT uses 'tapping', ie stimulating acupressure points on the body to restore calm and rebalance the nervous system in relation to specific issues. EFTuniverse.com is a wonderful resource for more on EFT, including lots of studies.
EFT is so, so good at healing very specific issues in a short time. I love it for this reason, and it's brilliant first aid. Being more active and 'talky', EFT is not always my first choice if there is a more global issue that needs deep calm and reflection - but I will often use it with TAT to clear the way towards the next step. It's a fantastic and easy tool for all of us to use, so I like to make sure that my clients know how to do it.
What kind of issues can I work on? Phobias, and even mild addictions like smoking, are pretty easy and quick, believe it or not. As little as one session. Same with current unpleasant events, and even finding clarity about decisions - a new job or a move, for instance.
For those who are really seeking deeper answers - depression and/or anxiety that won't quit; early family traumas that are still clutching at us; recurring relationship patterns bringing unhappiness; or why we can behave with knee-jerk, sometimes self-destructive reactions we struggle to control - energy therapies together with traditional talk therapy including psychoeducation has been scientifically proven to be more effective, and quicker, than medications alone. (Psychoeducation means learning about psychology in order to normalise your own experience.)
How long does therapy take, then? Following on from the above, it really depends on why you are seeking therapy in the first place. One session can clear up a specific issue that's been bugging you. And that's great. There's no requirement for anyone on earth to dredge up problems for the sake of it.
Many of my clients, however, want and need to "go there" in order to feel free and confident. Maybe they experienced difficult childhoods (yes, I'm afraid that this is a cliche that is absolutely true in real life), maybe they have lived through trauma and stress, maybe they have been bullied, betrayed and damaged by people who were supposed to care about them. Maybe they have taken some wrong turns because of this. And maybe they never got the chance to make sense of it all. Maybe they never had someone on their side to really see them, and really hear them. With these clients, we may want to work together for a while.
The point is, it's up to you. And it's you who does the healing - not me. I don't fix anyone. I can just help you get rid of what's in the way.
I hope this helps! Please contact me with any other questions you might have.