Anne Watson, BSW, CBT
There are times in all of our lives when we find ourselves facing challenges and difficulties that seem or “feel” beyond our capabilities. While our family members, friends, and co-workers might be helpful, we may need someone who has a more objective independent viewpoint.
The way in which I work with my clients is a traditional talk therapy format. I will help you in exploring and resolving personal problems that deal with anxiety, depression, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, and self-esteem issues.
An important part of getting help from a therapeutic setting is to be able to tell someone else what you want or need.. Sometimes we know how to define this for ourselves or others, but other times we don't have a clue. When you come into my office for the first time, I will be there to help you get some clarity about where to begin. And then we will move along at a pace that reflects and honors your personal needs.
You might be coming to get support and perspective for a challenging, short term situation that has recently come to the forefront in your life. In this case you might need someone to listen and support you, or offer opinion, or advise you in some way. You may just need to speak to it, or realize what feelings it brings up in you to gain more clarity. Often this is enough to help you move along a new course, or in a more desired direction.
A quite different reason people come to therapy is that have some sense that they want to understand themselves better, and want to make deeper, long term changes. They want to find realizations about themselves, or about how the world works, that will help them in many aspects of living. They may have a sense or just a glimmer that if they understood some things better, they might find greater contentment, peacefulness or even happiness.
These are all valid, life-affirming reasons why people enter into a therapeutic relationship. There is a certain amount of self-worth in place already that allows you to ask for more.
Bioenergetic therapy is expressly a “Body Mind” form of therapy. And it is a depth therapy. The word “depth” here can help explain what Bio-energetic Therapy is, and how it works. Using the word “depth” to describe therapy came out of the field of Psychology, and has come to mean that the “unconscious” part of our mind can become more “conscious.” These hidden or unremembered events, experiences, or circumstances when brought to the surface, carry with them, missing puzzle pieces or remnants from our past. These remnants can bring new meaning and order to our lives. And this in turn, has strong potential to give us greater clarity about ourselves, and move us toward the healing process. How deep the client may explore some aspect of self, or how far back the client may go into their past is a collaborative and ongoing effort between us. And we revisit this as often as is necessary. This helps the therapeutic process to remain “therapeutic,” productive, and safe for the client.
Science tells us that our life experiences are recorded and stored as memories in the various and known anatomical parts of our brain. Bioenergetic Therapy proposes that these experiences also find a way of laying themselves down as a kind of record, in the neurological and muscular tissue of our body. When we have an experience in our life that is difficult or challenging, we tend to contract and hold our muscles against it. As each of us contracts and holds our muscles repeatedly, it becomes at some point, a habit. And the unique, particular way in which each of us does this can be called our “habit pattern.”
The bioenergertic therapist and client then begin to work with these holding places through specific postures, stances, stretches, and body movements. The therapist observes the particular way one stands, and moves, bends, holds up, or collapses; the therapist might notice our "default" facial expression or the way we make eye contact. The client may be guided to bend, or walk, or stand in a "grounded" position. At the same time the client is often describing or explaining a life event or experience that has become challenging or problematic in some way for them. This conversation can begin to tap on the door of the emotional component of our "habit pattern" storehouse. And so the emotional pieces of our personality start to have light shed on them so that they make more sense to us. This is part of the healing property of bioenergetic therapy. It can be mending and restoring.
To someone unfamiliar with Bioenergetics, the work might look like exercising. But it is not a form of exercise. The process, the underpinnings, and the goals of this psychological therapy are very different and much more comprehensive. The unique way in which this therapy utilizes both the body's and the mind's holding places and narrowed views is what makes it such a remarkable source for healing. It allows a restructuring and reconstruction to occur with greater ease, grace and integration. And in so doing the "language of our body" finds a crisper, more colorful landscape in which to reside. And a clearer portrait of who we are. Now we can take deeper breaths, and have more of a sense of relief and safety in our lives. We begin to respect and care for ourselves better.
We can say that dream life is a kind of “other life” that we have while we are in the depths of sleep. It is similar to, but also different than waking life. We usually take our problems and our everyday way of being with us into our dream life at night. But as we travel through this rarefied territory, we start to find inklings, and clues, and even buried treasure. These gifts or treasures are not readily available to us during our waking hours. But they are there for us in our dreams, ready to be received, as we become ready to receive them.
Dreams often speak to us in languages that contain unusual and creative qualities and characteristics. Dreams are filled with objects, places, animals and people that are moving and behaving in all sorts of ways, and come to us as though we are watching a movie. As I write these paragraphs to tell you about dream work and dream analysis, I am using creative writing. It contains symbolic language, pictorial language and metaphors. These are the unusual and creative qualities and characteristics of the language of dreams. The method I use in Dream Work and Dream Analysis helps the client decode, interpret, and understand this pictorial, “symbolic” language.
All cultures develop some of their own unique symbols over time. These symbols reflect the specific view of their collective emotional lives, their spiritual viewpoints, and the most powerful ideas, core values, and principles by which they live.
In addition to these symbols unique to each culture, there are also “universal” symbols that are cross cultural. An example of a universal symbol is the house. Beginning with our earliest homes in caves, and evolving to the more sophisticated dwellings that we now inhabit, the word house brings up very similar thoughts and feelings of warmth, safety and protection in all of us.
The stories that we create then, that we have come to call dreams, make use of both the unique symbols of every culture, as well as the universal ones. As we continue to use a house as our dream symbol, a person in a more primitive culture might dream of a simple hut, while a person in a more developed country might see an elaborate building with walls, ceilings and a roof. In both cases, the symbolic use of the house may be expressing something quite similar, but the objects in each house, or the events that take place in each house will make the theme of each of these dreams entirely different from each other.
To say that dreams are a form of language implies that they are telling us something. In the dream work that we do together, I approach it from this viewpoint. I believe that most often our dreams are telling us something, but something we don’t quite know yet, or something we are now ready to acknowledge, recognize or understand. And I believe that dreams come to us with the purpose of being useful, helpful, constructive and beneficial. The good that comes to us from our dreams comes from no one other than ourselves, or only by way of ourselves, and thus we can say that they are also trustworthy.
By working with your dreams you become increasingly skillful at teasing apart the not so apparent meanings and messages they are presenting. Dream Work begins to help you see the picture, while Dream Analysis gives the picture more color, depth and dimension. To work with our dream stories then, provides us with an artful, less cumbersome way to mend and solve the problems and difficulties that life brings, sooner or later, to all of us.