An eclectic blend of embodied, transpersonal, creative and evidence-based disciplines
My approach to the treatment of eating disorders and obesity is an eclectic blend of the following disciplines:
a) Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing, to address the dysfunctional beliefs and maladaptive behaviours, characteristic of these conditions, to resolve ambivalence and to increase the willingness to change. Motivational enhancement is really important in Eating Disorders, as denial of the issue and of the need to change is one of the most challenging factors, often sabotaging recovery. CBT, on the other hand, facilitates the minimisation of the harmful behaviour, -be it starvation, overeating, excessive exercise, or vomiting- through a solution-focused approach, which is necessary for therapy to progress; therefore, these practical interventions are the main focus in the initial stages of therapy, but remain an indispensable part throughout.
b) Psychodynamic / Psychoanalytic Therapy, to shed light on the deeper, underlying causes of the issue. Underneath the manifest symptom of disordered eating, the roots of the problem often lie in the unconscious; the part of our psyche, which contains information that is not accessible to us, in our normal, day-to-day life. Bringing these unconscious elements into consciousness offers important insights into the way and reasons that certain behavioural patterns and personality tendencies have been developed and hence, facilitates a deeper understanding of ourselves, allowing for lasting change to take place.
c) Jungian Transpersonal Psychotherapy and Dream Analysis, to incorporate the transpersonal/spiritual element and to make meaning out of our experiences. Jung was the first psychotherapist to suggest that we are much more than isolated individuals, being guided merely by our instincts. Instead, he proposed that all our life experiences are part of, what he called, the 'individuation process'; the personal journey that leads to the actualisation of our fullest potential. In other words, Jung believed that our struggles, pains and difficulties are actually the result of our psyche trying to heal itself, to achieve a state of health and balance; our issues are ultimately stepping stones on our path to wholeness.In this context, we look at the potential within Eating Disorders and view them as a learning process, a symptom that has been formed to draw our attention to what needs to change, fundamentally, in order for us to move closer to our true nature, our true Self.
Dreams offer one of the most efficient ways to access the unconscious, providing information that is necessary in order to 'see the whole picture' in our life's experiences. Through dreamwork, the use of myths, visualisation and creative work with the imagination, we communicate with the different parts of our psyche and explore the richness of our inner world, which extends beyond the limited realm of our ego consciousness.
Transpersonal work allows us to connect with realities that transcend our common perception of ourselves and, as a result, to realise our life as a journey with deep meaning and purpose, leading to ever greater levels of psychological integration, wholeness and spiritual realisation.
d) Body Psychotherapy/Arts and Movement Therapy, to utilise the wisdom of the body, which is the first to be neglected in food-related issues, and to facilitate reconnection and acceptance of it as the most important ally to recovery.
The body is so heavily and negatively charged in Eating Disorders; it is being despised, abused and punished, feared, mistrusted and fought against, thus turning into the battlefield on which the war against one's emotions and needs takes place. For this reason, it is so critical to actively include it in the therapeutic process.
Through the practice of mindfulness, we learn to become aware of our sensations, feelings and emotions, as they exist inside our body, and we develop the ability to 'stay' with these emotions, to 'contain' them, instead of acting upon them, or denying and repressing them.We also use the expressive arts and movement, in order to connect with our emotions, to embody and offer them a channel to be expressed through.
Body psychotherapy can often take us much deeper than talk-therapies can, as it goes beyond the mind and its defences, straight into the living experience and authentic wisdom of our physical being. It is very common for people to use talking in order to move away from their inner reality, rather than come closer to it. On the contrary, when we are willing to open to our body's wisdom, we are able to go straight into the core of our issues, by calming our minds and receiving the direct messages our body is always ready to provide, regarding our real emotions, needs and wants. In Eating Disorders, in particular, this is a crucial part of therapy, as the denial and suppression of one's emotional reality is one of the main characteristicts of these conditions.
Ultimately, through the somatic therapy process, we are able to cultivate compassion for ourselves, intimacy with our bodies and non-judgmental acceptance and containment of our experience, which naturally gives rise to the desire for self-care, kindness and love.
e) Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Technique is an extremely popular discipline of Energy Psychology, which utilises the knowledge of Chinese Medicine regarding the meridian system of the body, in order to treat physical and psychological symptoms. EFT involves a simple sequence of tapping on the basic meridian points, while repeating a short phrase, related to the particular issue, followed by an affirmation of unconditional acceptance of the self. The tapping activates the meridians and clears any blockages in the energy system of the person, so that the new 'input' of acceptance and relaxation can take the place of the previous state of negative emotions, which in turn releases the emotional charge and facilitates healing. This technique is very easy to learn and is especially effective in dealing with cravings, such as in bulimia, binge eating, or obesity, as well as in releasing other compulsive behaviours, such as excessive exercise, vomiting, etc.
f) Energy Healing (Reiki)
Eastern traditions have had since antiquity the knowledge that we do not only have a physical body, made up of flesh and bones, but an energy body as well. In fact, it is believed that the physical, emotional and mental issues and disturbances one is going to present, are visible on the energy body, even before they actually manifest on the material level. This has been testified in the past by a few charismatic, spiritually advanced individuals, who were able to see and 'read' the aura; the energy sheath surrounding the physical body.In modern times, with the advancement of Quantum physics, it has been proven that everything is made up of energy on different levels of density. Hence, matter is nothing but a very dense form of energy. Furthermore, instruments have been developed, capable of capturing and depicting the energy field around the human body.
Energy healing, and Reiki in particular, is based upon this knowledge and consists in the practitioner 'channeling' universal life force energy (reiki) and transferring it to the client's body through the hands. Reiki induces a state of deep relaxation, which enhances the body's self-healing capacity, and its beneficial effects in conditions related to pain, stress and mood have been scientifically proven.
As both a Reiki Master Healer and Teacher and Reiki Drum practitioner, I have found that integrating energy work into therapy greatly assists the healing process on all levels and facilitates recovery, while at the same time creating states of peace, relaxation and spiritual connection.
Reiki Drum is a combination of Reiki Energy Healing with the ancient tradition of drumming. Drumming has been used for healing and spiritual purposes by many cultures, all over the world and has been now proven to induce a state of relaxation and emotional release, and to facilitate the removal of energy blockages.
The Reiki Drum practice consists of three different methods:
1) Reiki Drum Healing, which involves the channeling of Reiki energy through the drum, as the practitioner moves it all over the body.
2)Reiki Drum Mental/Emotional Reprogramming, which addresses specific dysfunctional beliefs or habits, by creating a positive affirmation, which is then reinforced and 'planted' into the energy, mental and emotional bodies with the help of drumming and Reiki. This is a very powerful technique, which is also very useful in the case of eating disorders and obesity.
3)Reiki Drum Journey, where, with the help of the drumming, the client is taken into an altered state of consciousness and goes through an 'inner journey', a kind of spontaneous visualisation, during which they might be offered answers or solutions to a particular issue, or experiences that facilitate healing and integration. Journeying has been used throughout the ages in indigenous and shamanic cultures, as a way to connect with one's deeper knowledge and inner wisdom.
g) Therapeutic Yoga
Yoga is an ancient, incredibly rich tradition, which brings together a vast number of practices, based on a very deep understanding and meticulous study of human nature. Its aim is to facilitate the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development of the practitioner. In the last decades, yoga has become particularly popular in the West, especially its physical discipline of hatha yoga. More recently, research has confirmed the great therapeutic potential of the practice, which resulted in the incorporation of yoga and meditation in the treatment programmes of hospitals, mental health institutes, therapeutic communities etc., all around the world.
Yoga and eating disorders therapy naturally blend and complement each other, as the practice of both physical postures as well as breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation/visualisation techniques encourages connection and acceptance of the body, teaches one how to deal with difficult emotions and challenging thought patterns, and facilitates the embodiment and release of emotional and energetic blockages, thus greatly assisting the work of psychotherapy.
h) Chakra Therapy
The chakras are described as the centres of psycho-spiritual energy inside the human body. Their existence was first realised by the yogis and sages of ancient India, who experienced them in deep meditation. There are thousands of chakras in the human body, but seven of them are considered the primary ones. These seven chakras are located across the spine, beginning at the base and ending at the crown of the head, and represent different planes of existence and states of consciousness. Each chakra is said to govern a specific area and certain organs of the body and is related to different emotions and life issues.
Anodea Judith, an amazing, internationally renowned teacher and therapist, and pioneer in the field of Chakra Psychotherapy, has created a model which provides an understanding of psychological issues and personality types from the viewpoint of the chakras and suggests ways to work therapeutically by addressing the specific chakra imbalances that underlie each problem.
Different categories of eating disorders are typically associated with respective chakra patterns and imbalances. In the context of therapy, I utilise Anodea's work, whom I have personally trained with, drawing from disciplines such as yoga, bodywork, bioenergetics and somatic movement therapy, in order to restore balance in the chakra system and, by extension, to promote health and well-being on all levels.
Empathic, safe and confidential environment, based on the values of non-judgmental acceptance and respect.
Qualified Psychotherapist with extensive training and experience.
Broad and varied toolbox, incorporating elements from different approaches, allowing for greater effectiveness and flexibility.
Talk and Body Therapy, in combination with Healing; Holistic treatment of the individual on the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual levels.