Why I Do What I Do …the Way that I Do It!

I often get asked why I’m in private practice focusing on one on one therapy and why I use SRT (Self Regulation Therapy) my practice despite other options for both employment and treatment modality.

These two questions from colleagues, clients, and others are certainly the most popular and I’ll answer them here.

This is an exciting time in mental health. There are more options and delivery methods than ever before. We’ve reduced mental health stigma so people can actively seek out help without shame. This is amazing and will only continue! Here’s why I do what I do in private practice (which as a self employed single parent, it has it’s challenges for sure).

I believe in individual work. I believe that the work you do on yourself with the right therapist will transform your relationships with everyone – your family, your significant other, the people you work with. I also know there is value in supplementary offerings including self help books, different apps for your phone, websites, groups etc. I strongly believe however, that the supplementary options out there, while increasing your knowledge and awareness and at times providing connections to others, are limited in their ability to transform, make lasting changes, and for many, bring about the neurobiological changes necessary for healing.

This kind of work is best done one on one – allowing your nervous system to template off of another grounded nervous system – a phenomenon we refer to as attunement. Everything else needs to go into the brain through a regulated nervous system. Without the background nervous system work – the brain hasn’t changed in the way that really supports lasting success.

Psycho-educational groups are very valuable at providing cost effective transmission of information to a wider audience than what can be achieved in one on one work – which is grossly underfunded in the business model of mental health care. I think those groups can have tremendous value particularly when weighed against the alternative which is … no help whatsoever. For lots of groups though and in terms of “group therapy” – you are working with a room of multiple levels of dysregulated nervous systems. People are generally there because they are unhealthy in multiple areas of their lives or have had layers of trauma that are bubbling at the surface each week.

If people are in a state of high activation, as is common with trauma groups for example, the information you’re trying to disseminate cannot accurately or adequately be received. The part of the brain that would do that important consolidation work will be offline as the survival part of the brain tries to cope with the flooding chemicals of anxiety and activation in the nervous system. We are not adequately able to help a person heal from the traumas of their life in a group setting – the way that we are with individual sessions of non-overwhelming trauma work with a gentle and non-cathartic approach. This kind of work will help regulate a person to a level where he/she would get the most benefit from group work or supplementary approaches but I believe is the first step for many.

This is why I use SRT (self regulation therapy).  The way the brain is organized means that cognitive behavioural changes – are going into the brain through the very last structure that develops. The frontal lobes. We still need this information and insight – we do – it’s essential and SRT includes all of the value of CBT, it just organizes it in a way that the brain can best utilized that information.

I believe, based on neuroscientific research and the knowledge of how the brain is formed, how connections are made, and what areas govern out thoughts, emotions, and physiology – that the key to mental, emotional, and physical well being begins with a regulated, healthy nervous system. What we know about the brain is that the nervous system, originating from what’s referred to as the “reptilian brain” trumps the frontal lobes every time. It is active and responding to stimulus before the frontal lobes even know what’s going on. The thinking part of the brain is the last to come online in the developing brain- and the last to know what’s going on in the body – but the first to try and take control of it.

In working with the brain from the bottom up rather from the top down – we are able to balance and regulate part of our brain that governs our nervous system in a way I feel is far superior to thinking based work alone. SRT incorporates the body and the mind as interdependent and interconnected (which they are). And the brilliance of it is that it also works from the inside out – when the nervous system is regulated, the symptoms resolve as opposed to trying to work with the symptoms on their own.

This means that it’s much less work for the client. Much less frustration or shame (“I know better, so why don’t I feel better?). For all the clients that I have seen frustrated by CBT and feeling it ineffective for their needs or retraumatized by EMDR, I love SRT’s ability to be gentle and effective and long lasting.

I use this exclusively for trauma work because it is non-dissociative and not re-enacting. You never have to tell me the worst things that have happened to you from point A to point B with all the details in between. We know that this forces you to relive the trauma and sends you into an activated state where your brain will flood your body with adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine and others sending you into a state of overwhelm. Also what we know about the brain – it doesn’t heal when it is constantly provoked to that state of overwhelm and catharsis. In fact, that drives the trauma deeper.

I know that clients can heal their traumas in a way that isn’t so overwhelming and draining. The more we talk about our pain and trauma, the more our brain lights up to reinforce that traumatized state. SRT helps to heal the trauma in a different and very specific neuroscience based way that helps a person feel in control and balanced.

I work one on one and with SRT for the same reasons…because I believe in the power of attunement, and the importance of creating trust, safety and resonance within your very own private space of an hour to honour the work you need to do. I believe in SRT as the single best modality of treatment I’ve encountered thus far with it’s ability to work with how the brain works and heal more than just trauma and it’s strong foundation in solid neuroscience with reputable pioneers behind it. It’s part of my philosophy that I’m passionate about going forth in this profession and in this way. It swims upstream to much of traditional psychotherapy and to the business models of mental health care delivery – but I truly believe it’s the best way for long term health.

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