Written by Heather Steele, MS, LCAS, LPCA
Somatic Psychotherapist at NC Center for Resiliency, PLLC
Maybe you’ve had a bad day at work or an argument with your partner. Maybe you’ve become upset after hearing news you where not expecting. What’s the first thing out of your best friend’s mouth when you tell them? “Let’s go grab a drink.” We see this message in television shows, movies, and all over our culture. Alcohol will soothe you and make everything better. Is this really the case? Or are you just repeating the same cycle over and over, never really getting better.
Alcohol is a depressant on the nervous system so of course if will dampen our heighted state of emotions after an argument and turn down those racing thoughts. When we experience an intense level of emotions and our mind starts racing because we are so overwhelmed we often feel that there is no way out, other then grabbing a beer or ordering a martini. There is another way out and it is called nervous system regulation. This is the key to getting out of the “event, intense emotions, racing thoughts, drink,” cycle. Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing says, “…we have to learn how to quiet ourselves. This disconnect we have in our body is calling us to reconnect with our bodies with the sensing intelligent knowing body.” Here at NCCR all of our therapists are trained in somatic psychology where clients are able to quite their minds and reconnect with their bodies instead of resorting to alcohol or other methods to cope.
What can be taught in therapy with a somatic psychotherapist is how to regulate your own nervous system. Teaching clients how to quite their minds and listen to their bodies. This ultimately giving a client the power to manage situations, people, or triggers that would normally create heightened emotions and make our minds race. How great would it be to manage things as they come and not feel overwhelmed? I am going to take a guess, pretty amazing!
*Peter Levine interview with Lee Peper, CMO, Foundations Recovery Network, at the 2016 Innovations in Behavioral Health Care Conference.
Heather is a psychotherapist at NCCR and specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, anxiety, trauma, depression and eating disorders. Heather has extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and experiential therapies including imagery re-patterning and Somatic Experiencing. A significant past experience for Heather was working for the United States Navy and Marine Corps as a treatment care professional in an intensive outpatient program where she learned a lot about how trauma manifests in the body and how it can effect the people they love. Heather has a great passion for working in the field of addictions and mental health and assists clients in creating a deeper understanding of themselves through a psycho biological approach utilizing mindfulness practices, somatic experiencing and cognitive behavioral therapy. Heather will work very hard to help you meet your goals.
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