Breathing Lessons


Breathing Lessons

Getting Beyond the Limits of Talk Therapy

By Patrick Dougherty

September/October 2002


Q:I'm a traditional talk therapist, who'd like to explore using mind-body techniques to help clients calm down, but I don't know how to begin. What can I do that doesn't involve learning a whole new set of esoteric skills?

A: Sometimes, the simplest methods are the most effective. I've long been interested in the mind-body connection in psychotherapy, but was never quite comfort­able introducing some of the more elaborate touch-oriented approach­es. Several years ago, I went to a workshop and learned some hands-on techniques, but they worked best if the client was lying on a table. Definitely not my style! More recently, I attended a workshop about the cur­rent scientific knowledge about the connections between the mind and the body—the interplay of the emotions and the brain, how the body remembers trauma, the impact of stress hormones on health. It was all very interesting, but offered me nothing in the way of specific clinical techniques.

I've meditated for many years and have learned directly how helpful medi­tation can be in calming myself down and improv­ing my mental and physi­cal well-being. During this time. I've also explored a variety of different mind-body approaches, looking for those I might use as an adjunct to therapv. In all this searching. I haven't found a single technique that works better than one I've long used during…

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