I am in the clinical phase of my training at Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre. I am a member of the Association of Biodynamic Massage Therapists and am a UKCP candidate in training, and adhere to their code of ethics.
My own journey with body psychotherapy has been and still is an exciting, sometimes scary, and sometimes wholly surprising process of discovering and becoming who I really am. It can be incredibly hard to get at this essential self when you have years of messages from your environment that this whole you is in some way not acceptable – too loud, too playful, too aggressive, too weak, boring, not loveable. It’s easy for us to internalise the messages that exist all around us and become our own inner tyrant. Through Body Psychotherapy we’re able to value every part of ourselves, without shame or guilt. The body is so important in this task, because after years of this conditioning it can be a complete conundrum to know who we really are.
But, we have a big helping hand – All emotion begins as bodily sensation – anger can start as a tightness in the belly, a heat in the face, anxiety a tightness in the chest, a feeling that you can’t breathe, depression, an emptiness, heaviness, numbness. These will be different for everyone, which is why I steer away from diagnosis and systematic treatment. Everyone’s experience of a diagnosable condition will be different, and it’s that individual experience that is important. When we become more bodily aware, we can start to hear and decipher how we feel about things. We can also be more in touch with that which inspires us, where our impulses are, and who we really are. As I said, discoveries here can be entirely surprising, and it can be frightening to let go of who we have become, or ways of being that have served us in the past, protecting us and getting us the contact we’ve needed to survive thus far. But the wonderful thing about body psychotherapy is that you’re not doing it alone! We work together, at your own pace, with a gratitude towards the sides of yourself that have served you in the past, and an understanding that they might not be needed in your present, which enables you to choose how to be in your future.
I’m always delighted to find in clients something called a natural movement towards health. The body is on our side! It’s trying to do us a favour and will always have an impulse to become more authentically ourselves, no matter how well buried. This can mean that over time it becomes more and more exhausting to keep up the way of being that we’re so well practiced in. But once clients are more comfortable and at home in themselves and how they really feel I love to see how easy everything can suddenly seem, and how much renewed energy they find when they’re not using it to keep a lid on themselves. Dr. Peter Levine puts it very clearly when he says “When you are suppressing energy, you don’t have energy to really live. You’re not living; you’re using your energy to keep it down”.
I come from a background of great cultural diversity, and also have experience with LGBT issues. In these troubled times it seems imperative that there is more acceptance and celebration of those around us, our diversity and our richness. The first step on that path is to discover and celebrate our own essential self.