Coming out as a Body Psychotherapist

Over the last few weeks, until just recently, I’ve been experiencing some nervousness. Towards the end of last year I started getting ready to advertise as a body psychotherapist.

Why the nerves? There aren’t so many body psychotherapists around. Is it a strange thing to do, I wondered? Will people still want to come and see me or not?

A couple of days ago I added the words body psychotherapist to my advert that goes out in a local magazine and I felt better immediately. The nervousness disappeared and I began to look forward to welcoming clients who are interested in including the body in psychotherapy.

Why do I love including the body in psychotherapy? Our bodies have their own languages of feeling and processing emotion and experience.

In fact – despite only just beginning to advertise — I’ve been working in this way for a while. What does this kind of work look like?

It might be that we spend just a few moments with body experience before returning to speaking and listening. For example a client notices that they are clenching their fists, I invite them to do that more strongly and then a memory appears, or a worry, or something that needs letting go, and we talk about that.

It might be that we spend a little longer with body experience. A client and I notice they always hunch over when talking about their boss, for example. What does it feel like to hunch over like that? I wonder? How is it to hunch over more, or less?

It might be that we don’t mention the body or physical sensation at all, but that my being tuned into my own body and having some awareness of how a client is sitting or moving allows me to have more empathy for them.

This work fits so well with my mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to meet ourselves from a place of curiosity and without judgement – noticing thoughts, feelings and sensation in the body. Body psychotherapy is the same, but with someone alongside you, creating the conditions the enable this kind of exploration.

Tuning into the body is like changing the channel, it can show us things we might not otherwise see, and as a channel that is often under used it’s one that I’m interested in. Of course I still use all of the other channels with my clients: words, feelings, dreams and images and so on.

The actual qualification I am about to get is in Embodied Relational Therapy. I could have put this on the print advertisement but I wasn’t sure anyone would know what it meant.  I might write about what ERT means in more detail another time, but what I’ve said above gives a pretty good flavour.

I have spaces available now for new clients. Get in touch to book an initial session.

email kaspa@kaspathompson.co.uk or call 07946 715 730

Surviving Christmas and the New Year

We are moving through the longest nights. What happens at this time of year? In the run up to the longest night we put up our decorations and lights, go to parties and come together as happy families at Christmas time. Or we see others doing that and our own attempt to hold off the dark fails — the winter can be a difficult time of year. More likely we are somewhere in between, with good days and bad days: Holding off the dark with celebrations and light on some days, and other days our mood slipping into something gloomier.

What helps?

It helps to know that feelings come and go. The more deeply we examine our feelings the more obvious it becomes that they are always shifting and changing, even in small ways. When I used to fall into an awful mood one of the worst things was imagining that it would last forever – but when I really examined the evidence? What a revelation. Trusting that things will shift and change has been a comfort for me, personally, in darker times.

It helps to trust that it’s good to do good things, even if they don’t bring results straight away. Your good things will be different to my good things, but for me good things are getting outside, getting up and moving my body somehow, and making wise choices about what I eat, I read and watch. These may not lift you from the worst of moods straight away, but taking care of yourself and others is good to do regardless, and I trust that it helps lay down the conditions for better moods in the future.

As the nights become shorter, and the days become longer and we move past Christmas and into the New Year we move away from parties and to new projects and new resolutions, and the adverts on our TVs and in our magazines change from selling rich sugary foods to selling diets. 

Sometimes we get a rush of new energy and plough that into the New Year, lifting ourselves up from where we were before. Sometimes we see all of those advertisements and articles about New Year’s resolutions and become disheartened as we quickly fall into old habits or discover that we don’t have any energy even to start to change.

What helps?

The same kind of things: knowing that feelings come and go, trusting that it’s good to do good things and — importantly — being realistic. There’s no point setting yourself a list of ten great things to do if you only manage a few and then become so disappointed it triggers apathy and feeling terrible. It’s much better to set a few goals that you can meet, and celebrate meeting them.

Sometimes it feels like change isn’t coming, or that the roots of disappointment run deeply. I encourage you to reach out get support. We can feel ashamed of asking for help — but the truth is no one does it on their own, and we all need to lean on other people, sometimes. Call a friend, book an appointment with a therapistor talk to a family member.

The winter can be a wonderful time of year. I’m writing this at the tail end of autumn, there are a few golden leaves left on the trees and the sun is shining brightly. Later on I’ll make a pot of soup, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends later in the week.

I trust that there will be good days, and less good days,and that it’s possible to move gracefully through them all.

If you’d like a little extra support – book a counselling session, or a mindfulness one-to-one with me, and we can explore how things are for you and how to move forward.

A version of this article appeared in All About Malvern

Rainforest Mind: Engaged Buddhism with Ayya Yeshe

Rainforest Mind: Engaged Buddhism with Ayya Yeshe

 
 
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Ayya Yeshe

In this episode I’m in conversation with Ven. Ayya Yeshe, about her socially engaged Buddhist work. What led her to social engagement? How does helping fit with Buddhist practice?

She talks about how her experiences as a Tibetan Nun helped her to empathise with oppressed groups, and her socially engaged work in India with the Dalit community, particularly with woman and girls.

Make a donation to support her work here, through the Bodhichitta Foundation website.

For more information on Buddhist Action Month, see the Network of Buddhist Organisations website, or drop me a line.

Rainforest Mind: Depression, My Companion

Rainforest Mind: Depression, My Companion

 
 

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I’m a little nervous about releasing this episode. It’s just me today, no guests, and I’m talking about my experience of depression, and how it is to be a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist and have the ‘black dog’ as a companion on the path.

This is an important topic. We are all human and some of the trickiest situations arise when we don’t recognise all the different parts of ourselves, and all the different parts of the people we are in relationship with.

 

Rainforest Mind: A Nomadic life – in conversation with Jayne Johnson

Rainforest Mind: A Nomadic life – in conversation with Jayne Johnson

 
 

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In this episode I’m talking to Jayne Johnson about life in community, and about the nomadic life.

Jayne got rid of most of her stuff, sold her flat and now lives nomadically.

Why leave the householder life? How do we live in community? And what is it like to leave the settled life? What are the benefits, and the costs?

Jayne is a body psychotherapist, and therapy trainer. Her website is here: shamanismembodied.com and you can find many of the courses Jayne teaches on here: erthworks.co.uk

Other episodes you might like

Rainforest Mind: To the divine mother, with Clark Strand and Perdita Finn

Rainforest Mind: To the divine mother, with Clark Strand and Perdita Finn

 
 

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In this episode I’m talking to Clark Strand and Perdita Finn.

It was a quote by Clark that first grabbed my interested in speaking to them – he wrote about moving from ‘spirituality to ecology’.

In the end I forgot to ask about that quote, but we had a great conversation about lots of  things and that theme found it’s own way in to the conversation.

We talked about Zen, about different kinds of practice groups, touched on the twelve steps, talked about the importance of trees and I heard about the history and importance of rosary practice and making prayers to the divine mother… great stuff

They are both writers, Perdita’s most recent book is The Reluctant Psychic, with Suzan Saxman, Clark’s most recent book is Waking Up to the Dark

As well as meeting in real life, you can find and join The Way of the Rose through their Facebook group.

Other episodes you might like:

You can view all episodes here: Rainforest Mind archive

 

Rainforest Mind: Embodied eco-spirituality with Allison Priestman

Rainforest Mind: Embodied eco-spirituality with Allison Priestman

 
 

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Allison Priestman

In this episode I’m in conversation with Allison Priestman, body psychotherapist and wild psychotherapist.

We talk about spirituality coming through or from the body, receiving something from the natural world and examples of wild spirituality.

I’ve looked for the C.S. Lewis quote, ‘God is wild’ and it looks like Allison was right – it is from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, “He’s Wild you know, not like a tame lion.”

I mentioned Gerald May’s book Wilderness and Nick Totton’s book Wild Therapy.

Other related episodes:

Allison’s website for her therapy practice is here: http://www.allisonpriestman.co.uk/ and details of the Embodied Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy training courses are here: http://erthworks.co.uk/

Rainforest Mind: Searching for God, or something like it

Rainforest Mind: Searching for God, or something like it

 
 

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Harlech Beach, by Ed Webster

In this episode I recount three experiences of being in sacred space, one on a rooftop in Delhi, one on a campsite in Harlech, and one during a five day chanting retreat.

What was I encountering in those moments, and does it matter what it was?

How do we interpret spiritual experience? Did I find God, the Buddha, or just the world?

Autumn and Winter Well-being

This month I was asked to write about coping with the disappearing sun, for our local magazine All About Malvern. This is the article I wrote:

 

Worcester has disappeared into the mist that is sitting in the Severn Valley. The garden is damp from a wave of rain that passed over the hills. Soon, the sun will dip under the horizon and the dark night will come.

I’m writing this in early September, and it’s not quite evening. The days have been getting noticeably shorter recently, and I am reminded of winter days in my youth when I would walk to work in the dark, walk home in the dark and spend the day longing for natural light rather than the fluorescent glow of the department store I was working in.

As summer draws to a close I also find myself remembering those first days of sunshine this year, after the long snowy winter. The sprits of the whole town seemed to lift when the bright weather arrived.

What can we do to stay happy as the hours of light become less, the temperature cools, and the clouds roll in?

Hygge

Lots of you will have heard of Hygge. Pronounced Hue-guh, this is a Danish word that means something like cosiness. When interviewed by the BBC Susanne Nilson said, “Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book.”

Maybe we can think of Hygge as creating conditions that help us to relax: Lighting candles, or sitting around a fire (inside or outside), creating a winter evening playlist that slowly gets more and more chilled, or sharing a good meal with friends.

Getting outside

As Arthur Wainwright famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Getting outside means getting vitamin D. It means moving the body, and it means you’re more likely to look at trees. All of these things are really good for you. In cold damp weather I pften feel reluctant to go up onto the hills, but every time I do I feel better afterwards.

Eating well

This summer I’ve been enjoying lots of wonderful salads and Buddha bowls for lunch. Our veg. patch needed plenty of watering but the results were amazing, and it’s been great to go outside pick something and have it on my plate minutes later. Now the earth is turning different things are coming into season, and I’ll be enjoying homemade soups with squash, leeks and other winter goodies.

Sometimes – particularly when I’m on my own – cooking can seem like a chore. But when I eat good food I always feel better.

Community

Maybe it feels easier to meet people when the weather is good, and easier to stay at home on your own on cold dark nights. But we are social beings. We each like different amounts of company, but some company is good for the soul, so host a dinner party, meet a friend for a coffee, or join a book club.

Plan something you enjoy

If the thought of a long dark winter really does lower your mood then make sure you plan some bright spots. Make a date with yourself, or a friend, and put it in your diary. Having something to look forward to in the future can make you feel better right now.

As the weather changes, and the light changes, it can be easy to fall into wishing for the autumn and winter to already be over. All of the suggestions I’ve made today are based on accepting the reality of what is, and finding ways of appreciating and making the most of what is happening right now.

Whether you are a cold weather person or a hot weather person, I hope you have an easy and enjoyable autumn and winter.

Rainforest Mind: Wild Therapy with Stephen Tame

Rainforest Mind: Wild Therapy with Stephen Tame

 
 

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Stephen Tame

In this episode we explore Wildness and Wild Therapy. Stephen Tame is a trainer on the Wild Therapy training course, and also on the Embodied Relational Training course that I’m currently taking.

We talk about what wildness means. Is it chaos and unpredictability? Or something else? We talk about what supports wildness, and wildness in urban settings.

We talk about the ideal of Wild Therapy – what kind of people is it trying to produce?

You can find details of the Wild Therapy training and Embodied Related Training on erthworks.co.uk, including a Wild Therapy weekend workshop in October 2018.

Nick Totton’s book is called Wild Therapy. The Charles Eisenstein essay Stephen mentions is Invitation into a Living Planet and James Lovelock has written about the Gaia hypothesis in many of books. Stephen also mentions Joanna Macy (if the world’s dying, let’s go down with some grace) the environmental social activist, and Buddhist scholar, who has written eight books.

Stephen’s own website, with details of his therapy practice is: https://www.stephentame.com/