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What the body tells you
posted: Jul. 08, 2020.
What the Body Tells You Environmental and cultural influences make a strong impact. Recently, I was reading the work of Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk who specializes in trauma. One of the ideas that stood out to me related to how critical it is for individuals impacted by trauma, even childhood trauma, to engage in experiences that contradict what their bodies are telling them. For example,if I have a client who says he or she feels powerless and that powerlessness shows up as anxiety, if the client begins some sort of activity such as martial arts, this experience will strengthen their self efficacy, and will help build their confidence as well as empower them in that they will feel better about themselves. Now as I work with my clients, I try to explore their fears or what disempowering messages they internalized in childhood so that I can help the client find experiences that can contradict all that. One of my clients is feeling better as she embraces change. She endured childhood abuse and abandonment and as such developed some cognitive distortions. She will tell me when night comes, she experiences a feeling of paralysis as she believed once darkness falls, she must retire for the night and "disappear." I encouraged her to plan activity when the sun sets such as taking a walk, or whatever she pleases to do. Later,she reported she had been doing more rather than giving in and felt better. I do believe that embracing experiences that help contradict what the body has internalized which usually results in maladaptive behavior, can be healing and transformative.