Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Brainspotting

Brainspotting - Brain Body-Based Relational Therapy is an evidence based therapeutic model developed by David Grand arising from his extensive clinical practice with EMDR and Somatic Experiencing body processes. Brainspotting is a treatment method that identifies, processes and releases neurophysiological sources of emotional, psychological & physical pain by focusing intently on a specific point located within a person's field of vision.

Everyone has moments in conversations or when alone whereby they shift their gaze outwardly towards the external environment as if to focus inwardly on a thought, emotion or to recall a memory. This inward/external scanning process locates a specific area within the sub-cortical (emotional) brain where memories are stored, processed and released towards resolution. A brainspot is located deep within a person's sub-cortical brain which controls all bodily function and is the seat of instinct, thought, creativity and spirituality. It is accessed through the movement of the eyes across the person's field of vision found on the horizontal / vertical axis - which holds unprocessed memories and emotional experiences.

The individual focuses on a spot within their field of vision whereby they notice bodily felt sensations or their eye gaze becomes fixated at a particular spot, whereby the therapist notices involuntary reflexive responses such as subtle shifts in facial movements or impulses, rapid eye blinking or changes in body shifts that indicates the presence of a brainspot.  An area deep within the brain signals to the therapist beyond the awareness of the client's neocortex (thinking) brain that an experience that contains emotions and memories has been detected. Focusing on the position of the eye gaze whether that be upwards, downwards. sideways or anywhere on the horizontal or vertical axis is how a brainspot is found, which is then processed by following the natural impulsive reflexive movements to release the emotional experience and memories. It is a practice that allows a deeper access to the inner psyche without words - a process whereby the brain does the healing.

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Sharon trained in BSP with Brainspotting Australasia Pacific.

Marble Bust
 
Bill

Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Eye Movement Desensitising 
Reprocessing

                For the eye altering alters all.  

The Mental Traveller, William Blake,1757-1827

Eye Movement Desensitising Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence based

treatment model drawn from physiological-psychological principles and

encompasses a person centred approach to psychotherapy for complex trauma

and PTSD. Francine Shapiro, developed EMDR and the adaptive information processing model which considers psychopathology as a disorder of memory

that holds unprocessed traumatic experiences and memories that arises in

disturbance of cognition, emotions (feelings) and behaviours. 

EMDR applies the left-right eye movements to stimulate the opposite

hemispheres of the brain back and forth. The use of bilateral stimulation is  

thought to assist with integration of the right-left brain hemispheres. The left side

of the brain controls the right side of the body whereas the right side of the brain

controls the left side of the body. The left domain of the brain manages language, cognition, and problem solving, whereas the right domain of the brain is intuitive, emotional and involved with body functions.

 

The brain is also understood as triune (three part brain), the cortical (thinking)

part of the brain is at the front, limbic (emotional) part is located in the middle

and the brainstem also known as reptilian brain is at the back of the head.  

Our brains are the most complex organ in the human body with enormous 

capacity to heal, as evidenced by the current research into neuroplasticity.

The healing processes involves the limbic region that guides emotions

and behaviours for self preservation and survival of the species, it is also

involved in the storage and retrieval of memory. The amygdala (alarm signals)

critically evaluates the emotional meaning connected to incoming stimuli which

then communicates to the hippocampus where (learning, memories) are stored 

and to the prefrontal cortex which then (analyses and controls emotions and behaviours).

When an individual feels under threat the innate instinctive primal need to survive

shows up in the fight, flight or freeze responses found in the brain stem, also

known as part of the reptilian brain, as old as the (dinosaur) age. Distressing events, images, intrusive or ruminating negative thoughts or emotions when they remain unprocessed it creates overwhelming feelings of distress as if being

back in that moment or of being 'frozen in time'. EMDR therapy processes these

memories using bilateral stimulation to reduce the emotional charge that is

attached to those memories to a state whereby they are no longer distressing

for the individual.

Sharon trained in EMDR with Assisted Psychology Services. 

 

Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Embodied Somatic Movement Therapy

Embodied Somatic Movement Therapy is a body psychotherapy model based on embodied somatic therapy and existential-phenomenology practice. It focuses on expressing the inner psyche and somatic movement patterns drawn from existential therapy, gestalt psychotherapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy. A person's narrative contains ancestral stories, psychological, physical and relational parts which are expressed through the body, how a person moves through the space - energetically, spiritually, metaphorically expresses their own way of being - existence in relation to self/others, the lyrical soundscape of movements reflect their unique rhythmic patterns of coming into contact oneself and others, an energetic organic life force that is bound within psyche wounds, traumatic memories, chronic diseases or illness contained within the body. Healing psyche wounds or trauma is through accessing the innate wisdom of the body from an existential-phenomenological experience and somatic movement practice that supports integration towards more of an embodied self.

Currently, due to COVID-19 restrictions individual and group sessions are on hold, they will resume when restrictions ease, and face to face contact is permissible within a yoga studio.

Trauma Recovery groups are planned for 2022.

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Sharon trained with DGT, Integrative Dance Therapy, in association with the European Academy Psychosocial Health/ Fritz Perls Institute, Germany. Sharon collaborated with esteemed DMT researchers and practitioners to develop a DMT postgraduate course - curriculum writer, lecturer, supervisor in the tertiary sector. She has also facilitated DMT for individual/groups with clients, practitioners and graduate students.  

Image by Hulki Okan Tabak
 
Therapy Office

Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy was developed by Fritz Perls which has evolved towards a relational dialogical model that is considered on a continuum of health. The humanistic approach to psychotherapy focuses on human beings innate strive towards psychological health and wellbeing. An individual's fixed patterns of belief or cognitive systems relating to self/others are attempts to maintain a sense of safety in the context of their environments. These early developmental formations develop in the context of the organism coming into contact with the environment and considers the creative adjustments which supports a person's way of surviving in the world.  ​

Gestalt therapy considers the therapeutic relationship as an organic co-creating relational experience. The relational paradigm includes power relations and interpersonal dynamics in the therapeutic work. It is a framework to understand the character styles and patterns that organizes the individual's perception of self and the world. An aspect of the psychotherapeutic processes focuses on awareness of core organizing themes or core beliefs which become fixed gestalts otherwise known as habitual ways of thinking, feeling or behaving which is out of a person's awareness. Exploring the formation of developmental schemas or relational patterns considers how as a young infant/child information is received from the environment to form core beliefs about self. Enduring core relational themes or unhealthy patterns often get repeated in interactions with others. Healing arises from an individual's awareness of their whole sense of being and phenomenological enquiry into their experiences of self, which embraces genuine contact with all parts of self with compassion towards more of an authentic self.

Sharon trained in Relational Gestalt Therapy with Gestalt Therapy Australia (GTA).

 

Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an evidence based model founded on systems theory and non-judgmental internal inquiry which was developed by Dick Schwartz. IFS seeks to understand all levels of human organisation - intrapsychic, family & culture with the same systemic principles, and to intervene holding a gentle compassionate inquiry to these parts (sub-personalities) that function as part of the whole system. 

Complex trauma creates 'parts' i.e. fragments of the once unitary mind are shattered resulting in extreme and polarised network of internal systems- it is difficult for any one part to change without the transformation of other parts in the system.

IFS integrates four theoretical models:

* Ego states

* Self (leadership - agent of psychological & spiritual healing) 

* Systems theory (context & patterns)

* Family therapy (intergenerational & interpersonal dynamics)

IFS Parts (Exile, Protectors and Firefighters)

Exiles - represent the younger parts that have experienced distress and/or trauma they are isolated from the rest of the system and they carry the emotions, memories, sensations of the pain and shame and are often stuck in the past. Exiles remain in exile until the managers and firefighters see some virtue in them, instead of them staying away.

Managers - as protectors are often proactive found in caretaking roles, the 

inner critique and self censoring (self/others) is to suppress vulnerable parts showing up, rather they serve to impress, being perfect so that you are never rejected and have power of others. They maintain the interactions between the 'parts' by numbing sensations disconnected from emotional feelings. Protectors don't trust Self to lead, they fear losing control over other parts, believing that exiles will be harmed or firefighters will take over.

Firefighters - extinguish the 'fire' danger by dissociating through addictions, substance abuse, impulsivity - self harm or suicidality, or compulsive behaviours when exiles (wounded parts) are activated in an effort to distract-deflect-deny intense emotional feelings. Firefighters are unable to become less impulsive or reactive until they don't have to struggle with managers for their right to exist and until exiles are less vulnerable. 

The IFS Model provides a map to navigate the different parts in the system, to understand the inter-relationships between parts and the interactions with the Self.  The therapeutic processes involves locating a part, understanding the characteristics, qualities, and features of that part whilst ascertaining the core sense of self being present and/or either the protector being present, then asking them to step back to allow the wounded younger part (exiles) to express itself without fear that other parts will step in to either manage or to extinguish that part which is attempting to reveal their woundedness.  Engaging in a dialogue or having a conversation with the different parts allows a deeper understanding of how they function in the system with the intention to unite the sub-personalities into a healthy unified whole system towards more of an integrated Self.

Sharon has clinical family therapy experience in an outpatient mental health clinic. Sharon has undertaken further training in Internal Family Systems and Trauma.

Sculptures in Rows
 
Image by Halacious

Melbourne Integrative Psychotherapy & Counselling

Neuropsychotherapy

"...all the senses are connected in some way to the brain, consequently they are incapable of action if the brain is disturbed" (Foca, 2002).

Neuropsychotherapy is an evidence based psychotherapy model drawn from interpersonal neuro-biology studies. The human brain is comprised of a neural network system - neural functioning and processes organises human responses, memory, sensations, emotions, thoughts, behaviours & interactions. Neural functioning is dependent on the interaction between human beings & their environments which influences psychological development towards resiliency and growth or the onset of psycho-pathology. 

A developing brain needs a safe, enriched environment to mature into a healthy organism. Enriched environments down regulate the activation of primitive systems, whereas compromised or impoverished environments constantly activate the threat response that results in over-activation of protective patterns and stress responses. The over-activation of these stress responses found in neuro-chemicals can impair the neural networks of the brain, resulting in a brain that is wired to avoid and protect rather than towards growth and enhancement. A person organises their worldview based on these schemas (patterns) which are intrinsically connected to how humans are motivated towards having their   psychological needs met. These relational and behavioural patterns of avoidance or approach are found in the schemata model of psychotherapy.

Neuropsychotherapy provides a map to understand how the brain functions when under threat, the neurons sends signals to other parts of the brain in response to danger, all the neurons are firing in response to threats, the threat system is switched on to high alert and can sometimes get stuck there. Early developmental trauma, relational & sexual trauma influences how some of these neurons fire in response to threats, and overtime they become fixed into a default network of systems. These default network of systems then become structured into maladaptive cognitive thought processes, emotional dysregulation and unhealthy relational patterns and behaviours - they are all survival patterns. Developing insight into these default survival systems found in schemata patterns that are either avoidant/protective responses or approach/ enhancement responses forms part of the therapeutic work with a focus on repatterning or reconstructing these schemata worldviews.

Sharon trained as a Clinical Neuropsychotherapy practitioner with International Association of Applied Neuroscience (formerly the International Association of Clinical Neuropsychotherapy).