Step by Step
Our therapeutic process is based on the Human Givens Institute that includes CBT, NLP and Guided Imagery, as well as the important notion of Human Innate Needs and Resources.
We combine CBT and Guided Imagery (clinical hypnosis) as a base for solution-focused therapy, aiming to reprogram past beliefs and conditioning and achieve the therapeutic goals in a coordinated and sustainable way.
It is also a person-centred approach, where personal views, background, culture, religion, and sexual preferences are respected, and confidentiality is always assured.
“Polyvagal theory is the science of Safety – the science of feeling safe to fall in love with life and take the risk of living”
The four dimensions of the therapeutic process
Our therapeutic process addresses and focuses on different dimensions of learning. To achieve our therapeutic goals and be able to change what is not working for us, we need to act on four different and interconnected levels:
A cognitive level
A behavioural level
A physiological (biological) level
An emotional (unconscious) level.
At a cognitive level, we challenge thoughts and negative beliefs, recognize our strengths, limits and values and establish goals for the future.
At a physiological level, we learn how to send messages of safety to our autonomic nervous system, so we can rapidly go back to the ventral vagal state (focused, rational, calm and creative).
At an unconscious level, we use Guided Imagery to rebuild neural connections and rehearse the desired outcomes.
At a behavioural level, we practice – between sessions we reinforce what we have learned. Small steps make all the difference.
How does the Therapeutic Process develop?
- Psychological and situational assessment.
- Discover past conditioning (childhood and adulthood).
- Uncover beliefs about the condition and life in general.
Establishing a clear outcome
So we can envision a better future and recognize when the therapeutic process can be considered complete.
- To learn how the brain works, recognise the different mental states and how the autonomic nervous system reacts when faced with an actual or perceived threat.
- How nutrition, lifestyle, traumatic events, or Childhood Adverse Experiences can change how the brain works and its implication on perception and behaviours.
- The cycle of depression – how rumination changes sleep patterns and lead to fatigue, lack of motivation and depression (fig. 2).
- The processes behind an “anxious brain” and how to send messages of safety to the brain so the ventral vagal system is activated.
- Illicit hope through other people’s success stories.
Explore Innate Needs
I think it’s reassuring to let you know that your happiness isn’t just about what you do inside your mind. It’s also about taking action to identify and meet your needs. People who meet their needs in a balanced way are less likely to suffer anxiety or depression or relationship issues.
Are your innate needs being met?
- Safety – a safe environment
- Attention – give and receive
- Intimacy – having someone with whom we can be ourselves.
- Connection – to other human beings and to our community.
- Privacy – time to be with ourselves and for reflection.
- Autonomy and control – a sense of control over some parts of our lives.
- Purpose – can be found when we are needed, when we challenge ourselves and when we are part of a wider community.
- Healthy lifestyle – The role of our lifestyle in our mental well-being, namely nutrition, exercise and sunlight and what we can do to promote our health.
Explore Inner Resources
Recognize and point out what are the qualities, skills, and achievements the client already has and use them as resources for future change.
Skills to deal with anxiety and depression
- Relaxation and breathing skills
- Self-awareness about triggers and new ways to regulate and co-regulate – the observing self.
- Separate belief or opinion from fact. Reframing situations to introduce new perspectives about old beliefs.
Memory Reconsolidation for trauma
During extreme stress events, cortisol and endogenous opioids can interfere with the brain’s ability to form explicit memories. The sensory cues associated with the traumatic experience stay locked in implicit memory and fail to be integrated with the context and knowledge contained in higher cortical regions.
The key lies in recalling the implicit memory while simultaneously evoking a new experience that changes the meaning of the memory and invalidates negative beliefs attached to the traumatic event. This “mismatch experience” causes the emotional brain to update its prior learning.
Some of the techniques we use are effective even if you prefer not to verbally reveal the event. The last thing you need is to recall traumatic memories over and over again. It is not necessary and can even be detrimental to your recovery.
The Rewind Technique is a very gentle process, extremely relaxing and pleasant. Has proven to be very effective in releasing trauma due to past wartime (veterans), sexual assault, car accidents, abusive relationships, traumatic divorce, and other situations.
Future pacing with Guided Imagery
Stimulating imagination harnesses the powerful healing abilities of the brain more effectively than any other approach – including drugs. All processes of behavioural and psychological change involve focused states which the use of Guided Imagery engenders. They are the states in which we learn. It is mostly used when:
- We want to lower emotional arousal in depressed, anxious and angry clients.
- We want to help clients to visualize new or different behaviours in their imagination. This actually changes the brain’s neural pathways, making the desired changes much easier to bring about.
- De-traumatize people (using Memory Reconsolidation Techniques)
Assigned weekly tasks
You will have “homework” to complete at home. These are the small steps that will allow you to extend the benefits of your program to your daily life.
- Writing assessments (CBT)
- Little bottles of pleasure: Activities that promote ventral vagal stimulation and co-regulation (listening to music, painting, gardening, walking, going out with friends, fishing, dancing, etc, – accordingly to the client’s preferences)