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Stress Relief at Therapy Today

therapist near youPlease feel free to bring your stress and discomforts to my practice. Collaborating with you as my client, we work with whatever burdens you: injury, loss, separation, divorce, trauma, anxiety, shame, guilt, change, death, growth and meaning making.

I specialise in sitting with your stress and listening to it. I am interested in its nuances, manifestations, permeations and how it impacts your life. My aim is to be alongside you in seeking and creating ways of integrating and overcoming that which robs you of a life of quality. Often we do this work while making sense of living with irrepressible anxieties.

I want to assure you that I will dedicate every hour you see me to your story. Alongside you as the expert of your life I will listen with curiosity and compassion. I will act with all the knowledge, experience, intuition and wisdom within my reach. This work will strengthen you on your journey. I can’t guarantee that I’m the right therapist for you – please make contact and let’s see if we can find each other in working on relieving that which pains you.

Please feel free to contact me:

  • E: herman@therapytoday.co.za or
  • T: 0832525239 – phone calls, sms’s and whatsapp’s welcome.
  • You may also walk in to make an appointment at 61 D, 4th Avenue, Linden, Randburg.

Read more…

If you want to read more, I will give a short overview of the three therapeutic approaches I use synchronously:

Systemic approach

Read more narrative therapyMy wellness is dependent on the health of my micro and macro worlds. An illustration to explain systemic thinking: If a plant in my garden ails I will look for signs of disease as much as I would ask questions about its preferences for water, shelter, son and shade. So if I’m not coping its no use just saying: ‘stop it’ or ‘here, take this cure once a day.’ We have to look at the bigger picture. What in my system produces these stressors? Have you seen this positive story of humanity – how re-introducing wolves changed rivers and saved Yellowstone Park? Similarly each of us are members of systems albeit friends, colleagues, team members, partners, families, neighbourhoods, tribes, nations and humanity itself. A systemic approach to pain looks at these connections, how we function in them, and what meaning we ascribe to them. A careful inquiry will also show how assisting or introducing change into the system can be of benefit to the individual.

Mindfulness based therapies and Narrative therapy are both developments of systemic thinking.

Mindfulness

contemplation therapy todayMindfulness uses ‘fresh eyes’ to look intentionally without judgement but with curiosity and compassion at our experiences as they are unfolding. It is an attitude, an awareness, a lifestyle, a meditation practice and a therapeutic strategy. Here is a short mindfulness meditation from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry.

Spaciousness

As we become more aware of our present experience as it is happening, we start to develop a secondary ability. We develop a spaciousness to notice that an impulse has arisen and to disconnect from the automatic behaviour that usually follows. So mindfulness creates a space between impulse and action that allows us to be more flexible in our responses’, the words of  psychiatrist Dr Daniel Siegel of UCLA. He coined this capacity to pause before we act a ‘response flexibility.’ This flexibility in decision making and response draws on the neuro-plasticity of our brains and can transform our perceptions and behaviour. In fact just 8 weeks of mindfulness training can create changes in the pre-frontal cortex (‘flight deck centre’ where we control and shift complex emotions and attention) and the insula which makes us more self aware and empathetic. Our fight and flight responses are directly altered by these changes. ‘Demonstrable functional and structural changes in the prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, insula and hippocampus are similar to changes described in studies on traditional meditation practice. In addition, MBSR led to changes in the amygdala consistent with improved emotion regulation. These findings indicate that MBSR-induced emotional and behavioral changes are related to functional and structural changes in the brain.’ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2016.07.001

Stress and Pain

An introduction to my understanding and use of mindfulness will be incomplete without a reference to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD. He coherently interpreted in a non-religious way, maybe for the first time, the value of mindfulness for stress and pain relief. In 1979 he founded the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program. Today this program is taught internationally at medical schools and centres of learning for stress reduction, sleep problems, anxiety and better performance. Yet Dr Kabat-Zinn created his program originally to assist patients suffering of chronic pain. See for instance his books ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ and ‘The Mindfulness Solution to Pain.’ Here a guided Mindfulness Meditation by Dr Kabat Zinn.

Awareness & thinking not the same thing

Mindfulness makes a clear distinction between awareness and thinking. Both are valuable but when it comes to the storms of pain with its distortions and ‘inflammations’ as Kabat Zinn coined it, it is my awareness that can balance and show the path to healing. Bringing our awareness to pain is counter intuitive. My brain’s first reaction is shock and horror; push it away, cut it off. Real pain is immune to these reactions of the brain though. The result is that I start panicking and my fight or flight response kicks in. Still pain remains doesn’t it! Enters anxiety. Pain intensifies. If I can calm my brain’s reaction to seize from fight or flight; to know it can turn and face the pain, I start on the road to managing the pain. You can foster this awareness; you are able to create this space between stimulus and response. Mindfulness meditation and lifestyle is not about obliterating my thoughts; its about disallowing my thoughts and sensations from harming me. I invite you to come and discuss it, try it out and practice it.

Narrative therapy

therapists near meHow does it work

Narrative therapy works at positive outcomes. It seeks your preferred reality and then looks at the dominant narrative that keeps you from that. We will work at externalising your inner negative dialogue; we tend to draw pain inside, narrowing our self-perception to centre around that event or present injury that pains us. As we are only in relationship to these problems, and not the problem itself, we create space between you and the problem and start working on the problem. We will look at marginalised narratives which fell by the wayside but could hold the potential for growth. We will make space for these hopeful stories in your life.

Stress is a narrative that quite easily becomes the dominant narrative in one’s life. It elbows every other narrative about one aside. Narrative therapy challenges this dominant problem-saturated narrative and then re-imagines and strengthens who we are aside from our relationship with stress and pain.

Theory

Narrative approaches are more than storytelling or an interest in the structure of stories. It values stories in an altogether new light – social constructionism: we create reality through the stories we tell. Emanating from post-structuralism, social sciences have come to understand that our perception of reality, yes even the reality of my pain, is not fixed. The meaning of pain is socially and individually constructed, so is our expectations of pain relief and therapeutic work. All of reality can be re-interpreted.This means that there is space for altering my experience of myself, stress, therapy etc. I am therefore not a helpless object in the mill of pain. I can re-interpret and re-story even this very real reality.