Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment method that focuses on improving an individuals' mental well-being and quality of life. This is accomplished by exploring one's thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and relationships, as well as truly understanding how one's internal world is affecting their external one.
In his groundbreaking book When the body says No, renowned Canadian Physician and Trauma expert Dr. Gabor Mate reveals the truth behind the mind-body connection. He suggests that our mental state affects our physical condition, and that it is possible to improve both: "Emotional stress is a major cause of physical illness, from cancer to autoimmune conditions and many other chronic diseases. The brain and body systems that process emotions are intimately connected with the hormonal apparatus, the nervous system, and in particular the immune system."
An integrative Psychotherapist utilizes the different methods they are trained in, in addition to their years of experience to help heal their clients. During therapy sessions, the healing process starts to untangle, and one can uncover and understand their internal emotional world. Clients begin to experience how unprocessed difficult experiences are stored in the body, memory and nervous system. The storage of these emotions in the body can create repeated unwelcome experiences in their lives. Trust is eventually earned between therapist and client, allowing for a greater feeling of safety and security while the healing continues. Research has shown the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client is a predictor of therapeutic success.
It is essential to create an internal visceral "safe place" in the first few sessions of therapy. This allows the client to regulate their nervous system when hits of "inner critic" create a regression to a child state of low self-esteem or self-doubt. A lot of Psychotherapists use an integrative approach combining different therapeutic modalities, to accommodate each unique client. I use mainly Internal Family Systems, EMDR (Eye Motor Desensitization and Reprocessing), Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal approaches that highlight the mind-body connection.
I hope the above helps you get curious about your internal world. Keep an eye out for my future articles, where I'll delve deeper into each of the modalities mentioned above.
Yours in holistic health,
Nisrine Maktabi, RP