When we experience trauma or overwhelming events in our lives, especially in childhood, then we develop ways to cope with the feelings that are associated with it, usually ways to avoid the feelings and keep functioning as well as we can. And some types of therapy such as DBT or CBT help up learn new skills to manage strong feelings and reactions that happen when we get triggered (emotionally reminded of the past trauma), so we don’t get overwhelmed and we can continue to function.
These coping mechanisms and techniques are aimed at avoiding the pain. In IFS therapy we notice the feelings and coping behaviors and engage with them instead of avoiding them, in a safe way to prevent overwhelm, and in so doing we soothe the painful and scary feelings and get the coping mechanisms to shift, so you’re no longer afraid of what’s inside, you no longer have a need to avoid, and the authentic self can come forward and you can begin to live with confidence that comes from having faced your demons on your hero’s journey, and having come out on the other side, you no longer get triggered so easily and functioning begins to happen more smoothly. You’re no longer carrying around a land mind that you need to protect or avoid.
You could think of this as “bottom-up” therapy in which you heal within versus “top-down” therapy in which you learn to cope better with the symptoms. Bottom-up therapy does take courage and readiness to explore the uncomfortable feelings and truths with a compassionate view, which can be challenging, especially if you’ve never felt compassion from others. But its important to know the difference so you can decide which type of therapy you’re more comfortable with and are ready for at this time in your life.
If your life is very stressful and you’re struggling to survive, then top-down therapy would be the most appropriate for you until you feel more stable. The techniques I use, such as IFS, Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, are bottom-up therapies that require a certain level of courage, willingness, sincerity, and desire to connect more deeply to your own truth in all of its forms of expressions. And if you feel ready to face the pain of the past, validate hard truths, give up negative self-talk, and build self-compassion, then I’m here for you, and we can do that together.