In my last blog, I discussed the power that implicit memories have in keeping the trauma of the past in our bodies. When we are triggered, stored implicit memories can create powerful sensations of fear, anxiety, confusion and anger. Often these experiences don't make sense, and we end up feeling weak or weird. For example, we might get triggered with dread and anxiety by sitting in a doctor's waiting room because we are reminded of another visit when we underwent a painful procedure.
What people often do is just try to grit their teeth and get through it. Later, they hope they don't have to go back to the doctors again--and perhaps even avoid the doctors office!
Innovators in the field are bringing together what we are learning about the brain to find ways to heal traumatic memories. I have been fortunate to train in several of these exciting therapies. One of the most powerful, sensorimotor psychotherapy, was created by Pat Ogden. Pat has woven together elements of attachment theory, Pierre Janet's insights, Levine's somatic experiencing, and the wisdom of Ron Kurtz's Hakomi method. It's a rich therapeutic approach indeed.
Soon Louisville will be honored with a visit from Janina Fisher, Ph.D., a lead trainer in sensorimotor psychotherapy and a trauma expert in her own right!I have had the privilege of studying with her "webinar" style for 4 years. Janina has many helpful suggestions for therapists when working with implicit memory. Consider these examples:
**Notice and pay attention to how clients' bodies show implicit memory and then name it for them. While direct training in somatic therapies helps fine-tune this skill, all clinicians can begin to track changes in skin color, averted gazes, muscular tension, shifts in mood, and/or subtle body movements. It's incredible how both clients and therapists have learned to tune this important data out as we focus only on language.
**Encourage clients to mindfully notice what they are experiencing. In sensorimotor psychotherapy, therapists are encouraged to coach clients to become aware of all the ways implicit memories can impact us. What are clients sensing in their bodies? What images or memories are coming up? What are they feeling? Are they experiencing impulses to move in a certain way? These are clues to how implicit trauma memories are living in us, and the ability to notice and describe these kinds of experiences provides an avenue for further exploration.
**Stay curious. Janina Fisher stresses that it is paramount for the therapist to remain open and even playful when sitting with traumatized clients. Being non-judgemental allows clients to collect data from their bodies in the true spirit of mindfulness, allowing them to get to what the body-heart-mind are needing to heal.
If these ideas intrigue you, you should further explore the work of Janina Fisher, Ph.D.and Pat Ogden, Ph.D. The sensorimotor psychotherapy website has articles and training opportunities. I highly recommend training in this method (www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org). Janina Fisher's website is packed full of articles and tools, www.janinafisher.com.
AND if you are within the greater Louisville area, register to see Janina lead a workshop "Healing Broken Bonds: Traumatic Attachment and Affect Regulation" on March 19th!!!
For more details see below