ESL educating, writing, cat loving, recovering from illness, enjoying island living kind of gal!

Posts tagged ‘counseling’

Counseling – Affective Neuroscience – Healing the Reactive Mind

Blogging University 101: Dream Reader

Assignment: “We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see (and appreciate) our work. Today, publish a post for that person — whether they’re a real-life figure or not — and stretch your blogging chops as you do.”

In relation to my journey to become just a little bit better, I began counseling about a month ago. I have met with counselors who have ‘hurt’ me, done nothing for me except listen to my story, tell me I don’t need counseling etc. Then…I met Tammy (not her actual name). I have called my sessions with Tammy life changing and mind blowing. I am excited I didn’t give up on counseling all together, since counseling can often times seem so fruitless. Now, I find myself eagerly wanting to grasp the concepts of this new counseling method Tammy and I are using that encompasses affective neuroscience and healing the reactive mind.

Update: I have since learned this method is called SRT. What is SRT? Here is a link:

When I first met Tammy, I felt very comfortable with her. The office and chair were comfortable and relaxing. I was optimistic that I could learn something from our upcoming sessions together. Using this new method is quite simple and so effective! When my emotions come up during conversation, Tammy asks me what I am feeling in my body. Sometimes I feel a wave of emotion going up and down in my chest and stomach. Sometimes it is a pain in my shoulder blade. This transfer of thought from my emotions to feeling my body in the present, takes attention away from my amygdala (the part of my brain) that emotionally reacts to the world around me.

My brain, like so many other individuals, responds from a place of trauma. This place of trauma came about from life events in my childhood. My amygdala doesn’t know of any other way to respond to emotional, difficult situations except from a place of trauma. It is as if my house is on fire most of the time and my brain is always responding to the fire alarm or some other kind of emergency when there is no emergency in the current moment.

Tammy guides me by grounding me…by asking what I am feeling in my physical body and just being in the moment with my body sensations, thus quieting my reactive mind as it realizes there is no emergency in the moment. This is key here…living in the moment. A new neural pathway is being formed, one that reacts more appropriately to the current situation rather than reacting from emergencies (or trauma) from the past. Once I have been grounded, I feel an objectivity to the events of the past and feel free from the emotional pain they have caused!

Before Tammy and I had started this method, I had bought a book that resonated with me. I felt very compelled to buy the book! I had told Tammy I was in search of clarity and was explaining how I thought there was a better way to respond to the world around me. At this point, I had bought the book but was unable to tell Tammy what it was called or what it was about. I had forgotten. I later realized that what I wanted out of counseling was identical to the title and subject of the book! Synchronicity! Here’s the book!

It was quite amusing that I had to have this book that fits so well with the counseling sessions I am now experiencing. The book gives me another perspective on the same topic to actually use and heal via this neuroscientific method.

I have only met with Tammy a few times and with each session there have been positive changes. After I left my last session, the core of my being spoke to me. I recognized what my core was saying as I had heard it before, but it was a reminder that all my work through chaos is to reach this point in my core, this long standing false belief that needs to be ‘re-wired’ hence new neural pathways must be created. This distorted belief of myself that my core spoke about is personal so I won’t share it today, but I wanted to speak about my experience because others might hear there inner being calling out to them too which, in my case, highlights my deepest, darkest issue. I might not be able to share this with Tammy yet, as I don’t want the floodgates to open too much leaving me feeling too vulnerable to move forward.

It has been a true gift that I met Tammy and stumbled upon Moffitt’s book! But wait! Two more gifts were forthcoming this week!

The second gift. A few days later during a coffee run to Starbucks, I came upon a newspaper article about neural pathways:

I was excited (excited because of the help available to correct and heal from these behaviours) to see this recent news story about child punishment (a form of trauma) and changing brain neural pathways. It was also great to see awareness being raised for child abuse. If you skipped over this article, it is a great read and not too long! I highly recommend the read to everyone. We are all touched by this trapped inner trauma. We are personally ‘affected’ or have loved ones, colleagues, family etc who are dealing with altered neural pathways.

These excerpts from the article really resonated with me.

Within the brain, when a child is spanked or hit, “there’s a pathway being formed instantly between the emotions that child is feeling, of fear and terror and threat, and the source of those emotions, which is the parent,” says Durrant, a professor of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba.

Learning to respond to such stress takes place at a neural level, she explains; a particular stimulus will automatically evoke a particular emotional response. So when adults who were abused as children are confronted with a familiar situation in which they feel out of control, they may lash out without thinking – and with far more force than they intended.

One of my revelations was ‘knowing’ that what I felt and experienced and how I responded wasn’t ‘my fault’ in a sense and it is terrific this part of the brain is very plastic, meaning very changeable allowing for new neural pathways! I held the notion that the way I sometimes responded to people or situations made me a ‘bad’ person. As an abuse survivor, I am guessing the idea that one is ‘bad’ is a fairly common misbelief of oneself.

And my final gift this week came from Facebook. A friend of mine, who lives in Morocco, shared a great read on her Facebook wall. She said, “A MUST REaD !! Didn’t enjoy reading this much for a while! This book is fantastic ! Life changing !! Available at Virgin RAbat.” I quickly searched for this book and found it in my local library. So I am reading this book too. So far, it has interesting ideas and it is a simple read. The video below features the authors speaking a little bit about the book.

I think so many people could benefit from this counseling that has only been in practice for 10-15 years. How fortunate I am to experience and reap the rewards of my sessions with Tammy. Hence I wrote this Blogging University 101 assignment entitled Dream Reader, thinking of Tammy, my counselor as my dream reader!