A Course for life – Soulful living

pagan-goddess-mother-earth1For a better understanding of yourself and your relationship with others I can deeply recommend the Soulful Living Development Program. This 7 week program (20 hours total) teaches practical skills for living consciously and mindfully with self, others, and the World.

These skills have been developed as part of the training program for Soul Centred Psychotherapy, a therapeutic modality developed in Australia (www.kairoscentre.com). Training in Soul Centred Psychotherapy has been offered at the Kairos Centre since 1993.

The name Kairos is from the ancient Greek, meaning the necessary and appropriate timing of a happening: the soul’s time rather than Kronos or linear clock time.

 
Soul Centred Psychotherapy incorporates a wide range of therapeutic forms, valuing both personal approaches and archetypal or mythic approaches. Current research in trauma recovery and brain mapping is integrated with transpersonal perspectives of healing.
This 7 week program offers theoretical understanding and experiential skill training in the areas of:

  • Attention
  • Mindfulness
  • Attending to sensory experience
  • The energetic field
  • Establishing healthy relationships
  • Self soothing and managing emotion

The program is suitable for PD (Professional Development) hours/points.

Facilitator: Dr Kaalii Cargill (PhD; BA Psych; Dip Social Work; ASCP) co-developed Soul Centred Psychotherapy and has been training and supervising psychotherapists for 25 years, as well as working as a psychotherapist and facilitating dream groups.

Where: Kairos Centre, St Kilda. Supper is provided. Cost: $660 payable on enrolment.

Enrolment: For further information, please contact Kaalii on (03) 9534 0795 or info@kairoscentre.com

There will be 2 series this year on Wednesday evenings, 6.30pm to 9.30pm:

August 3 to September 14 2016
or
October 19 to November 30 2016. The cost is $660.

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Why incorporate MINDFULNESS into Psychotherapy

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

MINDFULNESS is an important therapeutic tool as it supports clients in becoming more aware of their own body, as well as using this awareness to process and regulate emotions.

Mindfulness has a longstanding history in Psychotherapy. An awareness of bodily sensations has been a key component of Carl Rogers‘ Client Centred Psychotherapy (Fernand, 2000), Fritz Perl’s Gestalt therapy and Eugene Gendlin‘s “focussing process” (Kepner, 2001; Totton, 2003).

Especially approaches of somatic psychotherapy have emphasized ways to become ‘aware’ or more conscious of bodily processes in some way. Clients are usually encouraged to sense, feel, and pay attention to their bodies at great length. Not only is the body is the first and easiest object to observe in mindfulness but the somatic realm is deeply tied to all our emotional and mental processes (Damasio, 1999), making them observable in terms of our breath, posture, and bodily sensations (Marlock & Weiss, 2006). By improving their physical awareness, clients become able to ease their tension which in turn increases their confidence in their own abilities and resources Gyllensten et al., 2003).

Due to trauma, clients may often be dissociated from their bodies as they are unable to tolerate that heightened state of activation (Rothschild, 2000). Mindfulness helps them regain awareness of their bodies and as a result their nervouse system can metabolise those unprocessed memories and form new neurological pathways (Van der Kolk, 1994).

Mindfulness is particularly useful in psychotherapy as it strengthens reflexive ego functions and prevents the dangers of regressive therapy processes (Weiss, 2009). For example, if the client becomes highly identified with a feeling state, mindfulness techniques such as strengthening the internal witness can be used to re-access a more observing state (Weiss, 2009). This internal witness enables a process of ‘disidentification’ from limiting states of being, such as depressive or highly anxious states. Mindfulness supports a non-judgmental exploration of self and creates a gentle and accepting relationship towards ‘parts’ of a person that were previously seen negatively or became somewhat dissociated (Weiss, 2009, p. 8).

Due to discoveries in neuroscience psychotherapists and clinical psychologist now incorporate mindfulness as treatment tool (Röhricht, 2009; Shapiro, 2009). Clinical practice in the non-pharmacological treatment of anxiety is nowadays increasingly shifting towards the use of “Mindfulness Practice”, which is now an Empirically Supported Therapy (EST), as it has been adopted and researched by CBT practitioners for stress-reduction, anxiety, depression and pain relief (e.g. Kabat-Zinn et al., 2003).

References:

Damasio, A. R. (1999). The feeling of what happens. New York: Harcourt Brace &   Company.

Fernald, P.S. (2003). Carl Rogers: Body‐oriented psychotherapy. The USA, Body Psychotherapy Journal, 2(1), 45‐61.

Gyllensten, A. L., Hansson, L., & Ekdahl, C. (2003). Patient experiences of basic body awareness therapy and the relationship with the physiotherapist. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 7, 173–183.

Kepner, J. I. (2001). Touch in gestalt body process psychotherapy: Purpose, practice, and ethics. Gestalt Review, 5(2), 97-114.

Röhricht, F. (2009). Body oriented psychotherapy. The state of the art in empirical research and evidence-based practice: A clinical perspective. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 4(2), 135-156.

Shapiro, S. L. (2009). The integration of mindfulness and psychology. Journal of clinical psychology, 65(6), 555-560.

Totton, N. (2003). Body Psychotherapy: An Introduction. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Van der Kolk, Bessel. (1994). The body keeps the score: Memory and evolving psychbiology of post traumatic stress. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 1(5), 253- 265.

Weiss, H. (2009). The use of mindfulness in psychodynamic and body oriented psychotherapy. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 4(1), 5-16.

 

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stress RELIEVING techniques

STRESS is an ever present fact in our daily lives. The most basic tips for stress management refer to a balanced lifestyle with a wholesome diet (no processed foods), regular exercise and enough sleep. On top of that there are strategies and techniques you can learn that will help you cope better with anxiety and stress. Just keep in mind that learning to relax is a skill and like any other skill it takes time to learn it.

As everyone reacts to stress differently, there is not one universal technique that fits all. There are many different stress reduction tools and there is no right or wrong way of doing this. Some people need to be physically active to quieten their mind. The point is, everyone is different and you might have to do a bit of experimenting before you know what’s most beneficial to you. You might want to try:
– Breathing techniques
Mindfulness practices
– Walking
Yoga
Progressive muscle relaxation
– Visualisation
– Biofeedback
– Aromatherapy
– Relaxing music
– Massage therapy
– Keeping a journal
Mindful Meridian tapping

If you would like to know more about different stress reducing tools go to the Australia Counselling Website, where 15 Therapists share their best tips to help beat stress and anxiety.

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STRESS & FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness_CMBBIn the conflict resolution course I am currently teaching, forgiveness features as an empowering strategy to deal with conflict and reduce emotional and physical distress.

The following two quotes by Gautama Buddha highlight the negative effects of holding grudges:

  • Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Most of us know that holding grudges and being reluctant to let go of anger is detrimental to our well-being as it takes up a lot of energy to maintain resentment towards others. On top of that previous studies have shown that holding grudges also harms our physiological health.

Dutch Researchers Witvliet, Ludwig and Vander Laan (2001) found that empathic perspective taking and forgiving thoughts towards real-life offenders prompted greater perceived control and comparatively lower physiological stress responses. Similarly, it was found that forgiveness had beneficial effects on cardiovascular health (Lawler-Row, Karremans, Scott, Edlis-Matityahou, & Edwards, 2008). Forgiveness resulted in significantly fewer medications and less alcohol use, lower blood pressure and heart rate above and beyond the effects of just releasing anger. Forgiveness may also help lower pain in chronic pain sufferers. Correlational analyses showed that patients who had higher scores on forgiveness-related variables reported lower levels of pain, anger, and psychological distress (Carson, Keefe,Goli, Fras, Lynch, Thorp, & Buechler, 2005).

As David Whyte said “All intimate relationships—close friendships and good marriages—are based on continued and mutual forgiveness. You will always trespass upon your friend’s sensibilities at one time or another, or your spouse’s. The only question is, Will you forgive the other person? And more importantly, Will you forgive yourself?

So what does it take for us to forgive and what holds us back?

  • Is it pride?
  • Not wanting to deal with uncomfortable feelings?
  • Not having to look within?
  • Is it to you to be right instead of resolving a conflict?

Forgiving someone who has truly hurt or upset you is easier said then done. But considering the harming effect holding onto anger has on your physical and emotional health you may realise that there are no benefits to refraining from letting go.

Forgiving does not mean that you are condoning the other person’s harming behaviour towards you but it puts the control back with you and enables you to step out of the victim’s role. As Deutsch (2014) states: “Nursing hate keeps the injury alive and active in the present, instead of permitting it to take its proper place in the past” (p. 49).

Steps you can take:

  • Accepting what has happened and that it cannot be undone.
  • Acknowledge your hurt, anger or any underlying feeling that has been triggered within you.
  • Express your feelings through journal writing, drawing or talking to a friend or counselor.

When you are ready and it is an unjust but safe situation speak to the person who has offended you. Try to use I-statements to inform the other person that their behaviour has caused you anger or pain.

If you can, emphasize with the other person and where they were coming from. That doesn’t mean you are justifying their behaviour but it may help you understand it. (Having said that there are transgressions where forgiveness is unrealistic and may put survivors at risk. In these situations it is more appropriate to find ways of drawing a line over the event so it no longer takes up most of their energy.)

Consciously choosing to forgive also doesn’t mean that you are trusting the person who offended you again or waiting for an apology because you may never get it. When you’re waiting for someone else to act, you are giving away your power and sense of control. Letting go of the grudge is about looking after your own health and well-being. Forgiving releases anger, pain, resentment and thoughts of revenge that keep you stuck in the past.

References

Carson, J. W., Keefe, F. J., Goli, V., Fras, A. M., Lynch, T. R., Thorp, S. R., & Buechler, J. L. (2005). Forgiveness and chronic low back pain: A preliminary study examining the relationship of forgiveness to pain, anger, and psychological distress. The Journal of Pain, 6(2), 84-91.

Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. T. & Marcus. E. C. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice. (3rd edn.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley.

Witvliet, C. V. O., Ludwig, T. E., & Vander Laan, K. L. (2001). Granting forgiveness or harboring grudges: Implications for emotion, physiology, and health. Psychological Science, 12(2), 117-123.

Lawler-Row, K. A., Karremans, J. C., Scott, C., Edlis-Matityahou, M., & Edwards, L. (2008). Forgiveness, physiological reactivity and health: The role of anger. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 68(1), 51-58.

 

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The Effectiveness of Body-Oriented Psychotherapy

BodyPSychotherapy_CMBB_Bloch-AtefiAs a mind-body therapist and yoga teacher, through working with clients and from my own journey I know how important the mind-body connection is in successfully dealing with issues and stresses we face. Everything we experience gets stored in our bodies:

The mind might forget but the body remembers!”

Habitual thinking processes and stress can become encoded in the structure of the body as a ‘survival’ strategy, leading to muscle tension, restricted breath patterns and degradative change in the connective tissue. Only through working with the body in conjunction with mindful awareness can the underlying, unconscious beliefs, memories and feelings that had been locked into the muscles and the surrounding tissue be released.

That’s why the current PACFA literature review on “The Effectiveness of Body-Oriented Psychotherapy” which I have written and researched with my colleague Julie Smith from Bringing Calm to the Body and Mind is so close to my heart. It highlights that body-oriented psychotherapy interventions provide safe and effective treatments for a range of conditions and offer promising psychotherapeutic tools in areas where traditional talking psychotherapies seem to fail.

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6 Reasons why YOGA is good for YOU!

Benefits of YOGA - www.cmbb.com.au

Benefits of YOGA

From my own personal experience, I think YOGA is one of the best holistic and most comprehensive health practices available. But you don’t have to take my word for it. More and more studies show Yoga’s tremendous benefits on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.

1. Yoga is a powerful Stress-Reliever. By focusing on the breath and deepening the inhalations and exhalations, you are quieting the mind and switching on the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response.  The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs. Women who suffered from mental distress and participated for 3 months in a twice a week 90 minutes Yoga class, showed significant improvements in perceived stress, anxiety, depression, well-being and fatigue (Michaelsen et al., 2005).

2. Yoga boosts your Immune System. A Norwegian study has found genetic evidence of yoga’s impact on the immune system. Examining the participants’ blood before and after four-hour yoga sessions showed that the yoga practice changed the expression of 111 genes in circulating immune cells. The data suggests that yoga’s many health benefits might come from its ability to alter gene expression in your immune cells (Qu et al., 2013).

3. Yoga stimulates the Lymphatic System. Unlike the cardiovascular system the lymphatic system is passive and does not have a central pump to assist its flow. Deep breathing and specific yoga asanas improve the circulation of lymphatic channels. Inversions, like legs up the wall (Viparita Karani), or shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana), reverse the effect of gravity and drain lymph and used blood from the legs. Diaphragmatic breathing with breath retention is used to promote clearing from the lymphatic trunks. Breathing slowly and in time with the sequenced postures clears the central, then the peripheral lymph nodes and the slow movements of yoga ensure the emptying of the lymph vessels (Loudon et al., 2012).

4. Yoga keeps your Joints Healthy. Certain poses promote the release of synovial fluid (the slippery liquid in joint systems that along with hyaline cartilage, allows smooth, painless movement of the bones) while strengthening the muscles supporting vital joint system. Synovial fluid is found in joints like the knees, hips, and elbows. A style of yoga that is particularly supportive for the joints is Yin Yoga. Most of our flexibility, comes from our deeper connective tissues – our ligaments, tendons, fascia, and joints. The longer held postures of Yin Yoga intend to gently stress the joints to stimulate their strength and flexibility.

5. Yoga reduces Osteoarthritis Pain. A regular yoga practice may benefit people with osteoarthritis (a condition marked by the erosion of cartilage in your joints). Researchers found that taking part in a 90-minute yoga sessions once weekly for eight weeks led to significant reductions in pain and disability among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. For 90 minutes, twice a week, participants were led through a sequence to increase their range of motion in the knee. Using props, such as chairs, blankets, blocks, and straps, the women practiced Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II,), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), and Dandasana (Staff Pose) as well as many other poses.

6. Yoga decreases Anxiety & Depression. Consistent yoga practice improves depression and can lead to significant increases in serotonin levels coupled with decreases in the levels of monamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters and cortisol (Pilkington, Kirkwood, Rampes, & Richardson, 2005; Woolery, Myers, Stemlieb, Zeltzer, 2004; Javnbakht, Hejazi, Ghasemi, 2009). It was further found that GABA levels increased after a session of yoga. GABA acts as a neurotransmitter which inhibits nerve transmission to the brain, resulting in calming and quieting the mind. This suggests that the practice of yoga should be explored as a treatment for disorders with low GABA levels such as depression and anxiety disorders.

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Life Changing Transformations to become “UN-stuck”:

In Conversation with Soul Centred Psychotherapist Anita Bentata…  ANITA_Bentata_cmbb

Anita Bentata is a Melbourne Psychotherapist and Health Coach who helps her clients recognise blocks and triggers so they can respond powerfully and effectively to obstructions/life events/limited beliefs and/or ‘bad’ habits. Her holistic approach works with the mind and the body, the conscious and the unconscious to support her clients with stress and overwhelm and towards being as capable, clear, healthy and fulfilled as possible.

Here’s what she had to say…

 – About your practice: Where it is, who do you work with and the services you offer?  

I work from home and create a space that I feel creates a comfortable place for people to be in.  My practice is in East St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. I have been working in private practice since 2003 however previously I worked in a Community Counselling Agency.  I am a qualified Soul Centred Psychotherapist.  I am also qualified as a Health Coach.  The training as a Health Coach encompassed food and movement as well as the other areas of life which impact our health: work, relationships, spirituality, sense of self and more. I provide Psychotherapy and Counselling to adults of all ages.  I work short term and long term, the process suits the individual.  I also offer Supervision to Counsellors.  Health Coaching may be part of the Psychotherapy session or in an individual session to focus on health issues.

– What is Soul Centred Psychotherapy? How does SCP help people change?

I could go on and on about what is Soul Centred Psychotherapy!  It is an experience that is felt rather then understood through words but I will attempt to give a description.  Soul Centred Psychotherapy is highly sophisticated and complex and yet it is simple. It is about the mind and the body.  It is about everything that is in between.  It is about the conscious and the unconscious.  It is about the personal, the familial and the collective.  It is the experience of being with at a very deep level. It is unique with each client and even in each session.  It is ‘talk therapy’ and also experiential in a wide variety of ways.  It is a way of engaging with the self and experience which transforms.  It is an art of being and connection to instinct on how to be with your unique self and your experience with curiosity, resources and more. Soul Centred Psychotherapy allows resolution rather than mastery and coping.  It provides tools for life.  It is life changing.  Soul Centred Psychotherapy fits to you rather than you fit to it. Within Soul Centred Psychotherapy there is in-depth theory about child and adult development as well as trauma; the brain, body and energy system as a whole unit, as well as the impact of the self, mind and body; so each person is seen for their unique life events which have shaped them and their process is shaped to respond to their characterlogical structure and psyche. Soul Centred Psychotherapy does not ‘help people change’, nor does it ‘fix’ people more coming from the approach that people are not broken nor are they wrong in how they are; but are needing something to move the person beyond the ‘stuck’ place.  That the ‘change’ is more about progression from a more limited way of responding rather than fixing.  Assisting a client to move from the ‘stuck’ place to a natural resourced state.

– How do you think people change and what supports long lasting change?

Soul Centred Psychotherapy does not use ‘will power’ or positive thinking to create change in someone’s life as both of these run out; rather it helps find the blocks that are locked in consciously and unconsciously and resolves what is needed; whilst also supporting what is positively needed to develop once these blocks have been removed.  In this way, the sense of self, flow of energy, clarity of experience and being can flourish feeling satisfied and capable.In a more scientific explanation, I would say Soul Centred Psychotherapy not only works with the unconscious and conscious, but also with developing the neural pathways and re-aligning the energy system which is involved with the different patterns of responding.We all know we lose our energy when we feel overwhelmed or stuck.  Energy is behind all thoughts and actions.  Energy and choices is closely tied with the unconscious as well as the unconscious.   Working in this in-depth, structured and efficient way, with the conscious, unconscious, the brain and the body creates sustainable change as well as a flexible responsiveness that is available moving forward in life. Within the trust, safety and space which develops between the client and therapist;  a sacred relationship grows which combined with profound tools reaches in to the  unconscious limiting beliefs and behaviours and works to resolve and support those beliefs and behaviours to progress into their natural, creative and functional actions.  This process can develop in a short space of time because of the skills and ways of attending which are so present to the depth of what is coming into the room.  The client generally feels understood, sometimes for the first time; and is given a map to understand their process in a far more helpful way than they often have being relating to.

– For what types of issues is Soul Centred Psychotherapy particularly effective?

Whatever issue a person wants to bring in to therapy can generally be applied to Soul Centred Psychotherapy.  Relationships with the Self or with others, Work, Life Stages,  Confidence, Stress, Death, Separation, Anxiety, Depression, Spirituality, Parenting, a past issue which is unresolved, Trauma or something else.  Even if you do not have a clear issue and would like to just explore and feel curious.  Soul Centred Psychotherapy can be an avenue to connect to your Creative Self, your dream life and your unconscious.  It can be a ‘treat’ in connecting with oneself similar to going for a massage.

– How did you become interested in  working as a psychotherapist?

I first studied a Bachelor of Human Services (Human Behaviour) at Monash University.  I loved this course however when I was employed in a Community Counselling agency I found I wanted more skills and ways of understanding and making a difference to the clients I was working with. They had extreme trauma and I felt inadequate that ’empathy’ and ‘logical words / talking’ were not enough to make a difference to their pain and life challenges. I also knew this to be true personally as I had previously been to see a number of Counsellors and had been disappointed in their limited ways of helping or getting to the core of my issues.  I had previously worked in book-keeping and accounts and went into therapy myself when I left a violent relationship.   It was when I discovered a Soul Centred Psychotherapist that I felt understood and deep change happened in my life. I then felt called to change careers.

– What can a client expect to experience in an initial therapy session with you?

I always tell people that a good fit in therapy is not only the skills and experience a therapist has, but also their personality.  So the initial phone call, as well as the first session is an opportunity to meet each other and for me to take in your situation.   It also gives you an opportunity to experience how I work and for you to see if you like me, as well as if you feel or sense that we connect and I ‘get’ you and your situation. A new client coming for an initial session can expect me to help them to become as comfortable as they can be, so they can speak about what has brought them to contact me.  I will ask questions to understand and determine their situation and what they will need to resolve their issue as well as to understand how their mind body system has developed its unique coping style.  I will share my thoughts and understandings for us to come to shared point of reference.  In the context of what is shared, I will share and illustrate models of being with their situation from a Soul Centred approach.  I check in with the client as we go along, so I make sure you are staying in an optimal arousal zone and not becoming overwhelmed or stressed  by any part of the process.  I will share ways of taking care of yourself if required so you stay in a comfortable zone.  I will do my best to attend to your verbal and non verbal communications. You will leave with a tool to help their brain and body connect and relax.

– What differences do you see in the outcomes of your clients between regular “talk therapies” and Soul Centred Psychotherapy?

A number of clients come to me after trying different therapies and they report that  the regular ‘talk’ therapies would only go so far and could not resolve what they really needed.  They speak of understanding on a rational or logical level what was going on for them, but were not helped to be with how to get from their circumstance to the desired outcome.  The logical way of thinking or behaving that they wanted for themselves was only shown through using will power or rational forced thinking however they found they could tell themselves something but not be convinced by it or feeling in their bones or the cells of their body – so they were left feeling like they were going through the motions or failing the process. This is also what I commonly find, that most people know that they want to think or do things differently but the challenge is in making the change.

Unfortunately sometimes people are left feeling inadequate instead of the therapy mode not being able to provide what they needed. People leave Soul Centred Psychotherapy with resources and ways of attending to their whole experience with a greater emotional muscle to notice more of their experience and take care of themselves through their process.  They feel capable and resourced and often have me ‘whispering’ support and encouragement in their ear.

– On a personal note, what you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time?

When I am not working I love spending time with my gorgeous family including my 3 grand children as well as my dear friends.   I love keeping active and love walking in nature.  A big passion of mine is street Latin dancing: Salsa and Bachata.  Being healthy and fit is really important to me so I spend time cooking, fermenting food and making Kombucha.  I also like to keep strong and flexible.  I am always trying new ways of moving and feeling alive.  I love continuing to engage in my own personal self development journey, reading and watching art house and European movies.

If you would like to book a therapy or health coaching session with Anita, please visit her page or connect with her on facebook

 

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