Types of Counseling: Mind, Body, and Emotion

Types of Counseling: Mind, Body, and Emotion

Orlando Counseling Providing a Mind, Body, Emotion Approach

You’re edgy, anxious, and exhausted from the sense of impending doom. You know you need therapy, but finding the right therapist just seems to add to the stress you’re already experiencing. Perhaps you’ve been in therapy before and it didn’t really seem to help long term.

As an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, I know all about this. Many of my clients have similar sentiments, “I was seeing a therapist before, and I learned a lot, but I think I need something more now.”

When it comes to treating anxiety and trauma, it’s important that your counselor use an approach that includes the mind, body, and emotions. In my last post, Types of Counseling: What The Brain Says About Therapy, I discussed how us humans process information using a three part brain system that include processing at the level of body, emotions, and thoughts. In this post, I will bring it all together and reiterate the value of this in the therapeutic process.

Mind, Body, Emotion Connection

In my last post, Types of Counseling: What The Brain Says About Therapy, I explored in more detail the brain’s connection to each, the body, emotions, and thoughts. For the purposes of this post, in the most simplistic and succinct terms, it goes like this:

Brainstem: Body

Limbic System: Emotions

Prefrontal Cortex: Thoughts

If you’re someone that has struggled with anxiety or trauma, you’re likely aware of the negative feedback loop that occurs in your body, emotions, and mind. You feel revved up in your body with tense muscles, shallow breathing, and racing heart. Emotionally, you feel anxiety, fear, and dread. Your thoughts are preoccupied and worried. These ruminating thoughts send the signal back to your body to tense up, and so ensues the cycle.

The Brain on Pleasant Experiences

As with any system, one part is always impacting the other parts, and therefore, affecting the system as a whole.

Let’s explore this system when you feel good, when your body, emotions, and thoughts are experiencing a pleasant event, like going to the beach. Either imagine you are at the beach or remember the last time you were there. Really put yourself there by firing your five sense perception of being at the beach. Feel the wind, humidity, and sunshine on your skin. Smell the suntan lotion and the salty air. Hear the seagulls, the waves crashing, and the chatter of people in the background. See the blue sky, white puffy clouds, and notice where the sandy beach meets the shallow water of the ocean. Take it all in.

From this place, notice how your body responds. It’s likely calm and relaxed. Now, notice how this impacts your emotions, which may be feeling serene and peaceful. Next notice how a relaxed body, coupled with feelings of peace impact the quality of your thoughts. Do you see how one part of the brain is influencing the others?

The Brain on Daily Stress

Now, let’s look at daily stress. Just think about the regular ‘ole daily stressor of traffic, specifically for those of us traveling in Orlando on I-4. The brainstem is responding as you grip the stirring wheel and grind your teeth. The limbic system is responding through feelings of frustration and anger, and the prefrontal cortex is spinning with all kinds of thoughts about how running late is going to set you back at work and how you’re going to have to multitask to make up this time lost from sitting on the I-4 parking lot.

The Brain on a Difficult Event

What actually happens in the brain during the time of the difficult event will depend on how overwhelming, scary, or life threatening the event was. As mentioned earlier in this series, the sequence of how the three part brain responds in an emergency is first the brainstem, then the limbic system, and finally, the prefrontal cortex. First the body, then the emotions, and finally the thoughts.

As a protection mechanism, if the event was particularly traumatic and the brainstem and the limbic system were flooded, the details of the event may not even be available through a narrative or talking.

How This Impacts Therapy

If the event was too overwhelming and the brain was flooded with body sensations and emotions, then working at the level of thoughts is not going to yield much relief, In fact talking about the event is likely going to reactive the body sensations and intense emotions without any resolution, all of which is re-traumatizing.

Having a three part brain system impacts the way difficult memories are processed, metabolized, categorized, and recalled. All parts of the brain are involved when we experience challenging events, whether big or small, whether perceived or real.

When it’s broken down, you can see that all three parts of the brain have a function in how you experience difficult events through your body, emotions, and thoughts. Because of this, using a bottom up approach offers resolution to the root causes of anxiety and heals old traumas.

If you’ve been in and out of therapy with little resolution, consider seeing a therapist that processes information using a somatic or bottom up approach.

More on Orlando Counseling

If you’re interested in learning more about trauma and anxiety counseling in Orlando or you would like to find out more about using a bottom up approach in your healing journey, you can reach out to me here.

More on Types of Counseling:

Types of Counseling: Trauma Counseling

Types of Counseling: What is EMDR?

Types of Counseling: A Bottom Up Approach

Types of Counseling: What The Brain Says About Therapy

Types of Counseling: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Do you have a success story from using a bottom up approach? If so, please leave a comment in space provided below!

Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.