James Fitzgerald Therapy, PLLC

Types of Therapy

These are the types of therapies that I integrate into my practice. They form the basis of my theoretical orientation. The different types of therapy will influence my approach to working with people.


Please keep in mind, I am not currently certified by any of the organizations associated with these therapies. I will be taking continuing education courses in order to hold fidelity to these approaches. The philosophy and concepts of the therapy itself inform my integrated practice. I will utilize the resources, interventions, and techniques taught in these programs. 


Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the approach I suggest for use in sessions. As my primary approach, it allows me the ability to integrate the other types of theray with it. It serves as a guide and offers a structured approach to the work. 

Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy is a method of psychotherapy that helps people explore the different parts of their personality and the relationships between them. The goal is to bring awareness to these parts, which are often unconscious, so you can better understand yourself and have more control over your life. (IFS) is a way of looking at the self, relationships and life in general. It can be helpful when you want to understand why you do what you do and how your feelings, thoughts and actions impact each other.

IFS uses the concept of parts: these are like parts of yourself that have different needs or wants; for example, there might be an angry part inside which feels hurt by others but doesn’t know how to express itself appropriately; or there might be a scared part who hides from everyone because they think everyone will reject them if they get too close. Parts often have patterns of behaviour that repeat throughout life – for example if one part has been hurt by another person then it may keep trying again with new people despite all evidence that it won’t work out well for this person!

History of Internal Family Systems Therapy
Internal Family Systems Therapy was developed in the 1970s by Richard Schwartz, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. The work is rooted in the work of Carl Jung who believed that human beings are made up of several parts or aspects of themselves. These parts are known as “subpersonalities,” which can be thought of like an individual inside you with its own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Schwartz expanded on this idea and developed Internal Family Systems Therapy as a way to help people heal their relationships with themselves and others by integrating these subpersonalities into one healthy whole self (see below).

The basic idea is that we all have parts within us that can be thought of as people inside us. These parts are known as “subpersonalities” and they can have their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For example, you might have a part of yourself that wants to do well at work and another part that doesn’t care about doing well but just wants to goof off instead.

The Theory Behind Internal Family Systems Therapy
The Internal Family Systems model is a theory of personality, based on the work of Richard Schwartz. It’s based on a metaphor of the mind as a group of subpersonalities that interact with each other. This model has been used to explain how people develop and maintain psychological problems, including addictions and eating disorders.

The theory was originally developed to explain why some clients were not responding well to traditional psychotherapy methods or medications; it was later expanded by Drs. Sue Gerhardt and Peter Fonagy into what they call “mentalization-based therapy” (MBT), which combines elements from IFS with attachment theory and CBT techniques for treating depression in adults
and adolescents. In the Internal Family Systems model, the human mind has subpersonalities that can take control of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These “parts” (or “subpersonalities”) include child subpersonalities, which are sometimes called inner children; protector subpersonalities; victim subpersonalities; protagonist subpersonalities; persecutor subpersonalities and so on. Each part has its own beliefs about how things should be in the world, as well as its own needs and desires.

How Does IFS Work?
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a way of working with the internal family system. IFS therapists help their clients to identify and understand their parts, communicate with them and work with them. The therapist also helps clients integrate the parts into one whole person who is able to live in the present time and make decisions based on what they want or need rather than letting old patterns control their behavior.
The heart of IFS is that we are all made up of different parts. These parts can be called “subpersonalities” or “ego states,” but the term “parts” is more neutral and less judgmental than these other terms.

There are many ways to explore parts of your personality.
You can explore parts of your personality in a variety of ways. You can do this on your own, with a therapist or with a coach.

On your own: Make lists of qualities that are important to you and then think about which ones make up the “you” inside you (e.g., kindness). Write down what each quality means to you and how it helps or hinders others around them (e.g., being kind makes me feel good about myself). Talk about these qualities with friends or family members who know you well enough to give useful feedback; some may even be able to name specific times when they saw one part of their personality emerge over another (e.g., “When I heard about this friend moving away from our town, I was so sad for her but also glad because now we’ll get along better.”).

With a therapist or coach: Work with someone who can help you identify which parts of your personality are most important to you (e.g., kindness) and what makes up those parts (e.g., being patient, kind and honest). Once you’ve done this, ask them how they think each part of your personality affects others around them (e.g., “I’m really impatient/bossy/strict”). Then ask for feedback on whether this is true for you; if so, how do people react?
Next, ask your therapist or coach to help you develop strategies for when one part of your personality becomes more important than others. For example, if you’re usually patient but then find yourself being impatient with someone at work or home, what do you need to do differently next time?

Internal Family Systems Therapy is a helpful way to explore and heal your inner world. It can be used by anyone who feels like they need help managing their emotions, relationships or self-esteem. The best part about IFS is that it’s a non-judgmental process that allows you to discover parts of yourself without feeling judged by others or yourself!



Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies in order to help individuals better understand and manage their thoughts and emotions in order to achieve relief from feelings of distress. MBCT was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale. It is primarily derived from the earlier work of Teasdale, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Phillip Barnard.

The approach, which is still relatively new—the first clinical trial was published in 2000—incorporates principles from Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction modality, an 8-week program designed to help people cope with the mental and physical effects of health concerns, and Bernard and Teasdale’s ICS (interactive cognitive subsystems) model. ICS is based on the premise that the human mind possesses different modes for receiving and processing data, the two primary modes of which are the “being” mode and the “doing” mode. The model also suggests mental health may be dependent on a person’s ability to detach from one mode and move between other modes, based on what is present in the environment. The MBCT program emphasizes the “being” mode, as this mode is believed to promote lasting emotional change, specifically for individuals experiencing recurrent depressive episodes.

A Mindfulness and Acceptance Model of CBT
The MBAC model is a variation of CBT that focuses on acceptance and mindfulness, rather than changing your thoughts. It’s based on the idea that if you accept your problems, you can learn to live with them instead of trying to get rid of them. The MBAC model also includes cognitive restructuring, behavioral activation, and relapse prevention techniques from traditional CBT approaches. The goal of these techniques is not necessarily to get rid of negative thinking but rather to change how we respond when we experience negative thoughts or feelings (e.g., by practicing mindfulness).

Mindfulness involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose; in the present moment; nonjudgmentally–that is without judging yourself for having certain thoughts or sensations (such as anxiety). This means being aware only when you choose it rather than being constantly “on guard” against threats like danger or failure at all times while doing ordinary things like walking down the street or eating lunch at work each day!

How Does Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Work?
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is a form of therapy that helps people to develop their awareness of their thoughts, feelings and body. By becoming more aware of these things in the moment, you will be able to better understand yourself and your experiences. The goal is for you to learn how to accept yourself as well as others around you so that over time your negative thinking patterns will begin to change. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy can be used by anyone who wants help managing stress or dealing with depression or anxiety issues. It may also help those who have trouble sleeping because they are constantly worrying about things throughout the day (this can lead them into a cycle where they feel tired during the day because they aren’t getting enough sleep at night).

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was developed by Zindel Segal who wanted something different than traditional talk therapy techniques when treating patients with depression or anxiety disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He found that many people were resistant towards traditional talk therapies because they didn’t want someone else telling them what was wrong with them; rather than focusing on trying get inside someone else’s head–which often leads down rabbit holes–mindfulness encourages individuals themselves explore their own thoughts/feelings instead!
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy may be an effective way to manage depression, anxiety, and stress.

The Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Program is a type of treatment that may be effective for people who have had three or more episodes of depression. It is not a stand-alone treatment, but rather part of a larger treatment plan that includes medication, therapy and other types of support.
MBCT has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of relapse in those with recurrent depression by up to 50%. It is also used to treat depression and anxiety, as well as other conditions such as addictive behaviors, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Research and Evidence for Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Studies have shown that mindfulness based cognitive therapy is effective. Studies have also shown that mindfulness based cognitive therapy is more effective than other forms of therapy. In addition to these findings, research has shown that mindfulness based cognitive therapy may be a good alternative to medication for some people with depression and anxiety disorders. However, there are some limitations to these studies: they were done on small groups of participants (less than 100), so it’s difficult to generalize the results; most studies only looked at one outcome measure (e.g., “how many people improved?”); and findings may be different in a non-clinical population



Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying, understanding and changing the thoughts and behaviors that cause emotional distress. In CBT, you’ll work with your therapist to identify unhelpful patterns in your thinking and irrational beliefs or assumptions. From there, you’ll be able to work together with your therapist to create more effective ways of thinking about problems in order to cope better with life challenges. CBT is not a distinct treatment technique. Instead, it is a general term which refers to a group of therapies. These therapies have certain similarities in therapeutic methodology. CBT was developed by Aaron Beck in the 1960s. It can be helpful for people who experience depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing how you think and act to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of mental health conditions


CBT is a psychological theory that focuses on how people think, feel and behave. It assumes that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by their experiences and environment. The theory states that some changes in thinking patterns can help you to reduce negative emotions and increase positive ones. Cognitive behavioral therapy is grounded in the belief that how a person perceives events determines how they will act. It is not the events themselves that determine the person’s actions or feelings. For example, a person with anxiety may believe that “everything will turn out badly today.” These negative thoughts may influence their focus. They may then only perceive negative things that happen. Meanwhile, they may block out or avoid thoughts or actions that could disprove the negative belief system. Afterward, when nothing appears to go right in the day, the person may feel even more anxious than before. The negative belief system may get stronger. The person is at risk of being trapped in a vicious, continuous cycle of anxiety.

CBT also encourages you to take action in the real world by changing your behavior rather than just focusing on your thoughts or feelings alone. CBT therapists believe this approach helps people achieve long-term success because it teaches them how to change both their actions and attitudes towards themselves, other people and life events such as stressors (e.g., work deadlines). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It aims to change patterns in thinking and behavior that are behind people’s problems, such as depression or anxiety. CBT assumes that our thoughts inform our emotions and behaviors; therefore if we change our thinking patterns, we can improve our moods and actions. CBT has been proven effective for many problems by research studies including anxiety and depression.

In sessions, you will follow a structured format that flows with the questions: What is the problem? What will be done in this session? What do you want to get out of the session? How will we know if it worked? How do you feel about what we’ve done today? In addition to these questions, it’s important to go over any homework assignments and discuss how they went.



Core Beliefs are the most important beliefs that drive our thoughts and behaviors. They can be positive or negative, and they’re formed through a combination of genetics, environment, culture and life experiences. Core beliefs are often unconscious–meaning we don’t realize they’re there until we try to change them. That’s why CBT focuses on identifying your core beliefs and challenging them in order for you to see how they affect your life in a negative way. CBT has been shown to help people with depression and anxiety disorders because it teaches patients how their thoughts directly impact their moods: if you think positively about yourself or an event happening in your life (like getting a promotion at work), then chances are good that those positive feelings will lead to better outcomes than if someone else had made those exact same statements but spoken with pessimism instead!

Schemas are mental frameworks that organize, interpret, and predict information. We develop schemas based on our life experiences. Schemas can be positive or negative; they may also be self-defeating (i.e., leading to depression or anxiety). Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people identify their schemas by asking them questions like: What types of situations do you feel nervous about? What does this situation remind you of? How would someone else describe this situation? By exploring these types of questions with their therapist, clients learn more about their own personal patterns and how they relate specifically to the issue at hand (such as social anxiety). As clients gain insight into these patterns in themselves–or rather than just being told by others what those patterns might be–they become better equipped to challenge these negative thoughts when they arise during therapy sessions before they spiral out of control into full-blown panic attacks!

Automatic Thoughts are the thoughts that run through your head. They are not necessarily conscious, can be intrusive or conscious, and will influence how you feel and act. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative, realistic or unrealistic, helpful or unhelpful. For example: “I’ll never get this done on time!” is an automatic thought that may lead to feelings of anxiety and stress; whereas “I’m doing my best” could help reduce these feelings by reminding you that there is no need to panic right now (and also reminds us of what we can do).


Cognitive Restructuring: This intervention involves changing the way you think about a situation in order to change your feelings and behaviors. For example, if you feel sad because of something that happened at work, cognitive restructuring involves thinking about how other people would view the situation (and therefore not have as bad of a reaction), or considering what might happen next time so as not to get upset again.

Emotion Regulation: Emotions are important signals that tell us when something needs attention and action, but sometimes they’re too strong or last too long–in which case it can be helpful to learn skills for managing our emotions better so that we don’t let them control us! Some common emotion regulation techniques include relaxation exercises like deep breathing; mindfulness practices like meditation; taking breaks from tasks when feeling overwhelmed by them; identifying triggers for certain types of negative emotions (like feeling anxious before going into public spaces); finding ways other than drinking alcohol or eating junk food when stressed out.

Behavioral Activation is an intervention that involves someone using behaviors to influence their emotional state. It is often a part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but it can also be a standalone treatment. Most research into behavioral activation has focused on its effect on depression. This is because people with depression often lose interest in activities they used to enjoy or no longer find pleasure in their hobbies. A loss of interest in one’s hobbies can intensify the symptoms of depression, particularly if the person stops activities that were meaningful, that helped them maintain social connections, or that bolstered their self-esteem. Behavioral activation encourages people to engage in “antidepressant behaviors” to counter this.


All in all, CBT is a very effective form of therapy that can help you overcome your problems and lead a happier life. It’s important to remember that CBT is not just about changing your thoughts; it also involves changing the way you behave and interact with others around you. An evidence based best practice for mental health counseling. CBT helps people problem-solve. CBT also reveals the relationship between beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and the behaviors that follow. Through CBT, people learn that their perceptions directly influence how they respond to specific situations. In other words, a person’s thought process informs their behaviors and actions. 

Cognitive behavioral therapists believe we can adjust our thoughts. This is thought to directly influence our emotions and behavior. The adjustment process is called cognitive restructuring. Aaron T. Beck is the psychiatrist widely considered to be the father of cognitive therapy. He believed a person’s thinking pattern may become established in childhood. He found that certain cognitive errors could lead to depressogenic or dysfunctional assumptions.

The cognitive behavioral process is based on an educational model. People in therapy are helped to unlearn negative reactions and learn new ones. These are positive reactions to challenging situations. CBT helps break down overwhelming problems into small, manageable parts. Therapists help people set and reach short-term goals. Then the therapist gradually adjusts how the person in treatment thinks, feels, and reacts in tough situations. Changing attitudes and behaviors can help people learn to address specific issues in productive ways.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that was developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s. DBT can be used to treat mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder, substance use disorders, and eating disorders. It has opportunities for practical application in the treatment of anxiety and depression as well. The goal of DBT is not only to reduce symptoms but also to help you improve your life skills and achieve your goals, and objectives.


The theory behind DBT is based on Eastern philosophy and Western psychology, which states that people have four basic affects: happy/joyful, sad/sorrowful, angry/irritable or afraid/fearful. These emotions are often experienced at the same time as one another; for example when you’re sad about something but also feel angry about it at the same time. According to this belief system it’s important for us not only understand our feelings but also learn how they interact with each other so we can regulate them effectively.

DBT is a comprehensive treatment approach used to help clients manage their problems and symptoms by teaching them how to improve the quality of their lives. It combines cognitive behavioral therapy with the concepts of acceptance, mindfulness, and dialectics. By accepting the way things are in reality, as opposed to arguing about events from the past or trying to predict what might happen in the future, this therapy teaches you to focus on what is going on around you right now instead of distracting yourself by thinking about something else.

In the context of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, dialectics involves adopting a stance that is based on acceptance of the existence of multiple realities. In other words, this means accepting that opposing viewpoints exist and that they cannot be reconciled into one unified belief system. Furthermore, acceptance of reality as it is implies that each person has their own distinct position in the world that may not be easily transferable to another person

Therapy Sessions

Guiding: I am just a guide and navigator holding the map. You will not be judge or criticized. I will be empathic, attuned, and compassionate, and listen to what you have to say. I will help you identify your body sensations, emotions, and thoughts, so that they can be discussed openly in treatment sessions. I will teach you emotional regulation skills, distress tolerance skills, through coping and grounding techniques.

By learning how to recognize when we’re having an emotion, we can better regulate our feelings before they become overwhelming (or harmful). For example, if I’m feeling angry at someone who cuts me off on the highway while driving, then instead of honking my horn at them in anger or yelling obscenities out my window–which would only make matters worse–I could practice deep breathing exercises until I calm myself down enough so as not feel like exploding with rage anymore! This technique is called “self-soothing” because it involves calming yourself down by focusing on something else besides what’s causing these negative feelings inside yourself.”

Skills Training

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a practical form of therapy that can help you regulate your emotions, improve self-worth and build healthy relationships. The skills taught in DBT are intended to help you cope with the stresses of daily life. They include:

  • General Skills
  • Mindfulness Skills
  • Emotion Regulation Skills
  • Distress Tolerance Skills / Coping Strategies
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness


The modules are designed to address specific needs, be sequential and flexible, practical, culturally sensitive and applicable in multiple settings.

Mindfulness – This module introduces clients to the concepts of mindfulness and acceptance, and teaches them how they can use these skills to manage their emotional experiences more effectively. Clients learn various strategies for observing their emotional thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors in a nonjudgmental way. They also learn how to accept their emotions when they arise, not suppress them or resist them. Using these skills allows clients to experience the full range of emotions in their lives and gives them the ability to identify triggers for different reactions.

Distress Tolerance – This module teaches clients how to tolerate distress effectively so that they can build their skills for tolerating future challenges. The goal of this module is for clients who experience intense emotions such as anxiety or anger that may lead them into problematic behaviors (e.g., self-harm). They will learn how those feelings come about; what happens when you have these feelings; what helps you feel better (e.g., mindfulness); what doesn’t help (e.g., avoidance); how these skills can be used when faced with another challenge later on down the road.”

Interpersonal Effectiveness – This module teaches clients how they can more effectively communicate with others by using effective communication strategies such as active listening skills which involves reflecting back what other people are saying without judgment or criticism.”

Emotion Regulation – This module teaches clients how to regulate their emotions. Through dialectical methods, clients will learn how to identify and label their emotions, as well as learn coping skills that can help them to control their behaviors and actions when they experience distressing situations. In addition, clients will be taught how to monitor their emotional states in order to prevent increasing levels of anger and sadness.


Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. It’s a technique for avoiding thought traps and increasing self-awareness. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, but it can also be applied to everyday activities like eating breakfast or walking around your neighborhood. When practicing mindfulness with other people (such as during group therapy sessions), try to focus on what they are saying rather than thinking about what you want them to say next or how they might react if they said something different than what they actually did say. This requires letting go of expectations about how things should go and becoming more accepting of reality as it is in that moment–the good parts as well as any difficulties experienced along the way!

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is a skill that can be learned. It’s not the same as emotion suppression, which is the act of trying to block out emotions or push them away. It also isn’t the same thing as emotion management, which involves strategies for dealing with your feelings in an effective way. Emotion regulation includes strategies for managing your reactions to situations so that they’re less intense and last shorter periods of time than they would if you didn’t use these strategies. For example, if someone says something hurtful to you at work today (and it makes sense for them not knowing about your mental health issues), instead of getting angry at them like most people would do out of instinctual self-defense mode–you might take some deep breaths and remind yourself that this person doesn’t know anything about what happened between us earlier today so why should I let their words bother me? Or maybe even better yet: instead of reacting negatively right away because my initial reaction was anger then hurt followed by sadness etc., we could try using humor as an alternative response like chuckling softly under our breath while shaking our head back-and-forth slowly as though saying “no way!” Or even better still…

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance is the ability to tolerate distress without resorting to maladaptive behaviors. For example, if you are feeling distressed by something that has happened and your first impulse is to yell at someone or drink alcohol, distress tolerance would be the skill that allows you to keep calm and talk through your feelings in a healthy manner. Distress tolerance is not the same as resilience; it’s possible for someone who hasn’t learned this skill yet (or has never been taught) to be resilient in times of crisis but still struggle with being able to tolerate ordinary stressors without falling apart. The goal of teaching distress tolerance skills is not only so that individuals can handle major life events better–it’s also so they can function normally on an everyday level!

Interpersonal Effectiveness

How to communicate effectively with others. How to ask for what you want in a way that doesn’t create conflict or cause disappointment. How to manage conflict when it arises, including how to use assertive communication when necessary. Setting boundaries and negotiating with other people who have their own needs and wants (this can be especially challenging if you’re very accommodating by nature)


DBT is a complex treatment that requires a lot of time and effort. It can be difficult to understand at first, but the more you learn about it the more you’ll see how useful it can be in your life.


Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a directive, person-centered approach to therapy that focuses on improving an individual’s motivation to change. Those who engage in self-destructive behaviors may often be ambivalent or have little motivation to change such behaviors, despite acknowledging the negative impact of said behaviors on health, family life, or social functioning.

The primary goal of MET is to help individuals overcome their ambivalence or resistance to behavior change. MET focuses on increasing intrinsic motivation by raising awareness of a problem, adjusting any self-defeating thoughts regarding the problem, and increasing confidence in one’s ability to change. Instead of identifying a problem and telling a person in therapy what to do about it, the therapist encourages a person in therapy to make self-motivating statements that display a clear understanding of the problem and a resolve to change.  

Although MET may be used as a stand-alone treatment, it is more often employed in conjunction with other forms of therapy. This type of therapy can also serve as a form of pretreatment that may increase a person’s motivation to start a more specific form of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. MET might also be used along with a different form of therapy to reinforce one’s motivation to change.

Source: Retrieved from www.goodtherapy.org


Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.

Motivational interviewing evolved from Carl Roger’s person-centered, or client-centered, approach to counseling and therapy, as a method to help people commit to the difficult process of change. It was introduced by psychologist William R. Miller in 1983 and further developed by Miller and psychologist Stephen Rollnick. “The more you try to insert information and advice into others, the more they tend to back off and resist. This was the original insight that generated our search for a more satisfying and effective approach,” Rollnick writes. “Put simply, this involves coming alongside the person and helping them to say why and how they might change for themselves.”

Motivational interviewing is often used to address addiction and the management of physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. This intervention helps people become motivated to change the behaviors that are preventing them from making healthier choices. It can also prepare individuals for further, more specific types of therapies. Research has shown that this intervention works well with individuals who start off unmotivated or unprepared for change. It is less useful for those who are already motivated to change. Motivational interviewing is also appropriate for people who are angry or hostile. They may not be ready to commit to change, but motivational interviewing can help them move through the emotional stages of change necessary to find their motivation.

Source: Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com



Somatic psychotherapy, a holistic therapeutic approach, incorporates a person’s mind, body, spirit, and emotions in the healing process. Proponents of this type of therapy believe a person’s thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs can have an impact on physical functioning, while physical factors such as diet, exercise, and posture may positively or negatively affect a person’s mental and emotional state. Thus, those seeking treatment for any number of mental health concerns may find incorporating somatic therapy into treatment to be beneficial. 

A modality grounded in the mind-body connection, somatic psychotherapy is the largest branch of somatic psychology. Contemporary practitioners of somatic therapy believe that viewing the mind and body as one entity is essential to the therapeutic process. This mind/body entity will move toward healing and growth of its own accord, given the right environment, and interpersonal interactions, when conducted in a safe and respectful manner, can positively impact and help regulate the mind/body. 

According to somatic therapy theory, the sensations associated with past trauma may become trapped within the body and reflected in facial expressions, posture, muscular pain, or other forms of body language. Talk therapy can help address this trauma, but depending on the needs of the person in treatment, therapeutic body techniques can supplement more conventional approaches (such as talking therapy) to provide holistic healing. 

Somatic psychotherapy (also known as body psychotherapy or body-oriented psychotherapy) differs from body therapy. While body psychotherapy may often result in increased self-awareness, the resolution of psychological concerns, and positive changes in behavior, body therapy does not seek to resolve deep-rooted mental health issues or provide psychological insights. On the contrary, body therapy typically involves the use of therapeutic massage, non-therapeutic massages, and cosmetic skin treatments to reduce stress and increase long-term health.

Source: Retrieved from www.goodtherapy.org



Sensorimotor Psychotherapy™ is a body-centered approach that aims to treat the somatic symptoms of unresolved trauma. While traditional talk therapies utilize the words of a person as the entry point for treatment, this type of therapy depends on the bodily experiences of the individual as a gateway to awareness and improved mental health. Proponents of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy™ hold that traumatic experiences may become trapped deep within the body, with those who are affected sometimes completely unaware of the existence of unresolved trauma. Traditional talk therapies may fail to unearth these unconscious issues. Therapists trained in sensorimotor therapy techniques can help an individual begin to heal by helping that person re-experience, in a safe environment, the physical sensations associated with a traumatic event. 

The sensorimotor approach utilizes a person’s physical, mental, and emotional states in order to gently manage and relieve the physical sensations associated with trauma. During traumatic situations, the body may react in specific ways (fight, freeze, or flight) in order to maximize the likelihood of survival. However some of these health-promoting responses may not have been completed or even attempted during a past traumatic event (for example, a victim of domestic abuse may have decided not to fight back).  These unfulfilled responses may become stuck in the affected person’s nervous system, possibly leading to physical mannerisms (such slouching, shaking, or nervous tics) or feelings of anxiety, depression, helplessness, and isolation.

Sensorimotor psychotherapy helps the individual in therapy re-experience the traumatic event in a safe environment and carry out any previously unfulfilled actions in order to achieve a feeling of completion and closure. Details of the trauma do not necessarily need to be recalled for the treatment to be effective.

Source: Retrieved from www.goodtherapy.org



Polyvagal informed therapy is based on Polyvagal theory, originated by Dr. Stephen Porges, which provides a physiological and psychological understanding of how and why people move through a continual cycle of mobilization, disconnection, and social engagement. Based on this theory our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the foundation upon which our lived experience sits. We come into the world wired to connect. Connection and feeling safe is our birth right. “With our first breath, we embark on a quest to feel safe in our bodies, in our environments, and in our relationships with others. The autonomic nervous system is our personal surveillance system, always on guard, asking the question “Is this safe?” Its goal is to protect us by sensing safety and risk, listening moment by moment to what is happening in and around our bodies and in the connections we have to others”.

As Dr Porges explains this listening happens far below awareness and far away from our conscious control. Understanding that this is not awareness that comes with perception, Dr. Porges coined the term neuroception to describe the way our autonomic nervous system scans for cues of safety, danger, and life threat without involving the thinking parts of our brain. Neuroception is detection without awareness. It’s automatic and it’s been shaped based on our early life experiences. Because we humans are meaning-making beings, the wordless experiencing of neuroception drives the creation of a story that shapes our daily living.

According to Porges, “We all come from dysfunctional families.  The issue is not whether our family was dysfunctional but whether we can put meaning to the experience of our lives.” Our autonomic nervous system is all about safety.  Polyvagal Theory offers precise science to understanding how the vagus nerve, one part of this system, which connects the brain, to the heart, to the viscera (the organs of the belly), relates to our human ability to connect and communicate with each other.  Learning about the vagus nerve allows us to understand our coherent human nervous system and how it predictably relates to stimuli it encounters as varying degrees of safety and danger. Through the lens of Polyvagal Theory, we see the role of the autonomic nervous system as it shapes human’s experiences of safety and affects their ability for connection. The autonomic nervous system responds to the challenges of daily life by telling us not what we are or who we are but how we are.

Trauma interrupts the process of building the autonomic circuitry of safe connection and sidetracks the development of regulation and resilience. People with trauma histories often experience more intense, extreme autonomic responses, which affects their ability to regulate and feel safe in relationships. The extreme behaviours are autonomic actions in service of survival—adaptive responses ingrained in a survival story that is entered into automatically. Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection. If unresolved, these early adaptive survival responses become habitual autonomic patterns. Therapy through a Polyvagal lens, supports clients in re-patterning the ways their autonomic nervous systems operate when the drive to survive competes with the longing to connect with others.

Source: Retrieved from https://www.inwardcounselling.com/polyvagal-theory