Attending a bodymindself programme is a bit like attending physiotherapy—but for the mind. When we think about the body we recognise that there are better and worse ways to take care of it, and also effective and ineffective ways of using it. For example; if you need to lift a box, are you using your back, or are you lifting with your legs? It’s the same box either way, but your approach can make a big difference.
Something similar happens with the mind. Just as software can be out of date, sometimes our thinking strategies are in need of an update. While knowledge is important as it alerts us to new possibilities, application is also essential. Like the example of physical fitness; it might be nice to know that there are better ways to lift a box, but it’s also necessary to identify and practice better technique in order to develop the necessary muscle tone.
bodymindself is a type of integrative experiential psychotherapy. It is an applied psychological approach based on relational principles found in fields such as ecological psychology, cybernetics, systems theory, dialogical thinking, enactivism and theories of embodiment within cognitive science and research psychology.
To help understand what’s happening and to create meaningful change, the bodymindself approach is an integrative one, drawing on evidence-based research and methodology from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), systemic psychotherapy and the therapeutic meditative traditions of hypnotherapy (particularly Ericksonian psychotherapy), embodied cognition and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
The aim, in every programme, is to understand what patterns of thinking, feeling and acting are at play, why this is the case, and to experientially practice more suitable alternatives. The approach takes a non-judgmental and non-normative perspective. In other words; rather than simply labelling things as bad, we seek to understand why the pattern is happening to begin with and to find better ways of meeting those underlying needs in a positive and constructive way.
- Intentional—Be in the driver’s seat. All too often we’re carried along by the currents of habit, rather than navigating purposefully and deliberately.
- Identification—You are what you focus on. When we watch a film on television we may start to identify with the lead role or the narrative to such a degree that we are emotionally and physiologically affected by their fate. Attachment to circumstance and mental narrative are of a similar nature and you can have some say in your own identity.
- Experiential—Learning happens best through doing. There is a big difference between knowing something, and actually applying it. It’s like the difference between reading a cook book and actually eating. We have experiential needs just as our body has nutritional needs.
- Embodiment—Your body matters. When we’re affected by an experience, good or bad, it’s not just an intellectual experience. By tuning into the body it’s possible to help address accumulated stress and related difficulties, and to better instill new habits.
- Ecological—No person is an island. Behavioural patterns don’t take place in a vacuum. If someone wants to make a change then it’s important to consider not just their own effort, but how others are collaborating with them, the tools they have available and the context in which all of this is happening.
- Relational—It takes two to tango. By taking a relational approach it’s possible to better understand behavioural patterns, and their social context, and to make more significant progress than if you looked at yourself, or others, in isolation.
- Dialogical—Unity in diversity. The accelerator and brake on a car, even though they are very different from each other, are both vital parts of how the vehicle works. Likewise, you have a diverse range of psychological and physical capacities that can have a complimentary rather than competitive relationship.
Experience it for yourself!