Turning Down the Volume

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Written by Heather Steele, MS, LCAS, LPCA
Somatic Psychotherapist at NC Center for Resiliency, PLLC

Maybe you’ve had a bad day at work or an argument with your partner. Maybe you’ve become upset after hearing news you where not expecting. What’s the first thing out of your best friend’s mouth when you tell them? “Let’s go grab a drink.” We see this message in television shows, movies, and all over our culture. Alcohol will soothe you and make everything better. Is this really the case? Or are you just repeating the same cycle over and over, never really getting better.
            Alcohol is a depressant on the nervous system so of course if will dampen our heighted state of emotions after an argument and turn down those racing thoughts. When we experience an intense level of emotions and our mind starts racing because we are so overwhelmed we often feel that there is no way out, other then grabbing a beer or ordering a martini. There is another way out and it is called nervous system regulation. This is the key to getting out of the “event, intense emotions, racing thoughts, drink,” cycle. Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing says, “…we have to learn how to quiet ourselves. This disconnect we have in our body is calling us to reconnect with our bodies with the sensing intelligent knowing body.” Here at NCCR all of our therapists are trained in somatic psychology where clients are able to quite their minds and reconnect with their bodies instead of resorting to alcohol or other methods to cope.
What can be taught in therapy with a somatic psychotherapist is how to regulate your own nervous system. Teaching clients how to quite their minds and listen to their bodies. This ultimately giving a client the power to manage situations, people, or triggers that would normally create heightened emotions and make our minds race. How great would it be to manage things as they come and not feel overwhelmed? I am going to take a guess, pretty amazing!
              
*Peter Levine interview with Lee Peper, CMO, Foundations Recovery Network, at the 2016 Innovations in Behavioral Health Care Conference.

Heather is a psychotherapist at NCCR and specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, anxiety, trauma, depression and eating disorders.  Heather has extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and experiential therapies including imagery re-patterning and Somatic Experiencing.  A significant past experience for Heather was working for the United States Navy and Marine Corps as a treatment care professional in an intensive outpatient program where she learned a lot about how trauma manifests in the body and how it can effect the people they love. Heather has a great passion for working in the field of addictions and mental health and assists clients in creating a deeper understanding of themselves through a psycho biological approach utilizing mindfulness practices, somatic experiencing and cognitive behavioral therapy.  Heather will work very hard to help you meet your goals.

Heather’s direct contact information:
484-682-9281
hsteele@nccenterforresiliency.com


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The Couple Bubble: Creating a Mutually Interdependent Marriage or Partnership                                                                               

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Written by Anna Cordova, MA, LPC 
Somatic Psychotherapist at NC Center for Resiliency, PLLC

Do you want to learn how to listen to your partner better? Engage in less conflict? Love your partner better, and feel more loved in return? As it turns out, this ideal can and does exist, even outside of romantic comedies or sappy notions of love as infatuation.
 
According to the research of Stan Tatkin, PSY-D, author of Wired for Love and developer of a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT), building a secure and mutually beneficial romantic relationship boils down to an understanding of neuroscience, attachment theory and human arousal. This blog post is the first in a series of three that will help you understand how each of these components can help you shift your relationship paradigm and learn to create a secure and lasting bond with your partner, in which both your own needs— and the needs of your partner— are met, and you together set the stage for lasting love.
 
Each of us, whether we like it or not, are “wired for love.” We have a biological drive to “pair bond”— which in prehistoric times, was for the purpose of procreation and survival. Later, couples began to form arranged marriages, primarily to bolster their economic and social status. In the eighteenth century, couples were more likely to choose each other based on an idea of romantic love- and the focus began to be more on individual needs rather than survival. More recently, the idea that the self is autonomous has come into question. Humans are intrinsically relational and interdependent, (Tatkin, Wired for Love, p. XIII) therefore, marriage should be seen as a “conscious partnership” in which the relationship is less about individuals having their needs met, and more about making the relationship itself primary.
 
When couples make an agreement to make their relationship primary, they are making an agreement to put the relationship before anything and everything else. Tatkin refers to this
concept as the “couple bubble.” Creating this couple bubble allows partners to feel safe and secure, so even when life gets challenging, both partners have a secure foundation in each other. This has a calming effect on our brains, so we are better able to regulate our moods and emotion. The couple bubble should not be confused with co-dependency, in which the relationship is driven by insecurity and fear. Within the couple bubble, mutuality, encouragement and support trump autonomy, guilt or shame.
 
In his book Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin has defined the couple bubble as being based on a series of agreements, such as:
 
“I will never leave you or frighten you.”
 
“I will relieve your distress, even when I’m the one causing it.”
 
“You will be the first to hear about anything.”
 
These agreements are consciously held – like a pact. Above all, you are saying to each other: “We come first.”
 
It is important to know that what makes you feel safe and secure may not be the same for your parter. Part of creating the couple bubble will include helping your partner to discover this for him or herself. Look for more on how to understand this in yourself and your partner in upcoming blog posts. Here at the NC Center for Resiliency, we are focused on helping both couples and individuals improve their understanding of their own neurochemistry, attachment style, and physiological patterns and responses to improve and enhance their relationships, their sense of self, and even face life’s challenges with greater ease.

Anna Cordova is a body-centered and expressive arts therapist, as well as a registered yoga teacher. Anna has experience working in both private and community based settings, working with children, adolescents, teens, families and couples. Anna has extensive training in the field of trauma work, somatic experiencing, cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, creative expression and mindfulness. She specializes in mood disorders, relational issues, attachment, eating disorders, trauma and stress related conditions. Anna is committed to the deep work of healing through the body and would be honored to assist you on your self growth journey.
Anna’s direct contact information:
acordova@nccenterforresiliency.com
919-607-1468


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