When we begin the therapeutic journey with a new client, one of the first things that we focus on are a series of stabilisation and resource building techniques. This is a vital foundation for any successful therapy to build upon as it is so important for the client to feel a degree of trust and safety before journeying into deeper issues. A part of this process is the initial element of psycho-education. This allows the client to obtain a greater understanding of the processes involved in the therapies we use. We introduce our clients to some of the science behind psychological processes. We are creative in our approaches at the Oxford Development Centre but always anchor the treatment in solid and up-to-date psychobiology. By understanding some of the broader context of the therapy work they are planning to undertake, clients feel more comfortable, and better able to engage fully with the process.
Crucially, we help our clients to evaluate, reconnect and build upon their existing inner and external resources. This means helping them explore the elements of their life from which they already draw strength, and teaching them new techniques to help enhance their coping. Some examples of inner strengths might be a person’s sense of humour, their compassion, their love of learning, their resilience or their spirituality. External resources would include a person’s relationships, family connections, and the networks and communities which they are a part of. External resources also include a person’s passions in life, from which they draw a positive energy, such as walking in the countryside, practicing yoga or sports, or their pets.
These existing strengths are complemented by a range of techniques, which we teach our clients, to help empower them to feel connected with themselves and in greater control of their situation. These can include somatic, cognitive, and breathing resources. Body (somatic) resources can include ascribing physical boundaries, or the placing of a compassionate (or firm) hand on certain triggered parts of the body and are discovered through simple attunement to the body via techniques such as those used in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. A good example of a simple breathing technique we teach is called Coherent Breathing, introduced by Stephen Elliot, and used by other notable practitioners such as Richard Brown. By tuning their breathing rate to 5-6 breaths per minute, a person’s heart rate is complimented to the point that the parasympathetic system (associated with recovery and relief) is triggered, and their body and mind are able to enter a more relaxed state. This is a technique used successfully in many scenarios all over the world as ‘Trauma First Aid’. For example, it is taught to troops in Afghanistan, or to emergency response workers internationally and within the UK.
There are many other techniques which we help to equip our clients with before they move further into their therapeutic process. We would like to continue exploring some of these, such as visualisation techniques and somatic exercises, in a future article.
Hopefully this article has provided a useful insight into the initial stages of our therapeutic process. At The Oxford Development Centre, we strongly believe that establishing an informed, and empowering outset for our client’s therapeutic journey, is the most effective enabler for deep change and progression. If you have any further questions about our therapeutic processes please don’t hesitate to contact us.