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"Inner Journey" is a term I created that refers to a combination of techniques I use regularly. It incorporates both guided imagery as well as using body sensation to gain access your own inner wisdom. During this technique, the brain is shifted into a more relaxed and receptive state. It is not traditional hypnosis or pure guided imagery; rather it is much more interactive between the client and therapist, and between the client and his or her own body. Inner Journey can be used to gain insight and self-compassion, decrease anxiety, change a behavior, and heal emotional wounds from childhood. Often people access different aspects of themselves that they weren't previously aware of. I have found it to be extremely powerful even in just a few sessions for clients who are open to this type of technique. Clients have reported real and lasting change as a result of doing Inner Journey.
Guided imagery has a wide variety of applications including helping with emotional regulation, increasing one's sense of resiliency and strength, coping with painful memories, and decreasing anxiety. I've used it successfully with clients who have specific fears as well as nightmares and chronic pain. Like Inner Journey, guided imagery involves shifting the brain into a more relaxed and receptive state but is primarily led by the therapist with verbal prompts. It is different than Inner Journey in that it's not body-centered, and it's not very interactive between client and therapist. One of the benefits to doing guided imagery in therapy rather than just buying a CD or picking something online is that I can tailor it to your specific needs and wants. Many clients choose to record guided imagery sessions so they can listen to them on their own for reinforcement. I've been told that my voice is very soothing which is the key ingredient to effective guided imagery.
Before we could use language to communicate and understand the world, we experienced life through imagery and through our senses, so it makes sense that by using art we can heal on a much deeper level than by just talking in session.
While I am not a licensed art therapist, I have plenty of training using art in a therapeutic way. If you can let go of the "product" and instead focus on the "process" of creating art, you will find profound therapeutic benefits. Even seemingly simple artistic exercises can provide important information that we can use to help you grow and heal. When we create imagery, we access the right hemisphere of the brain which is where sensory information is stored as well as emotionally charged memories. We can then completely bypass the logical, thinking mind and instead tap into the feeling/subconscious aspects of ourselves. It is quite common to have emotions surface while creating art so I prefer for clients to do that in-person. My job is to hold safe space and be present during this process so I can best support the client.
During my yoga teacher training I learned the science behind breathing and what a powerful tool it is! Some breathing techniques decrease anxiety while others energize and ground the body as well as ease depression. If you are a trauma survivor, your breathing pattern needs attention for sure. Trauma impacts our breathing and makes it difficult to actually get enough oxygen which perpetuates the problem. I can't say enough about how effective breathing exercises are if done regularly. Every time I have done breathing exercises in session with a client, that person has left saying they feel so much better and want to do it again! I use a small biofeedback machine called an HRV monitor (Heart Rate Variability Monitor) while teaching the breathing techniques so that you can see in real time how your nervous system is responding. Clients often purchase their own HRV monitor and use the breathing exercises throughout the day to manage their mood. The more you practice specific breathing exercises, the more natural they will become and you won't have to think much about what to do or how to do it. You don't want to wait until you are about to have a panic attack to try to remember what to do. Practice "whenever" and you will see the cumulative benefits. Plus, breathing is free, portable, and you always have access to it!