The mind and the body
Mental health problems are often described as the invisible struggles that happen inside an individual’s head.
While this is true, it is important to recognise that these internal battles are not confined exclusively to what’s going on upstairs; the body is very much involved as well. In fact, there are a number of fields of therapy that believe that it is the body and not the mind that will provide you with the insights and understanding to become well again.
Most methods of supporting and treating mental health involve the recipient engaging in some kind of talking therapy, although some experts argue that this type of intervention is inadequate in many cases.
Approaches for treating mental health
The distinction has been made between what is called ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approaches. Top down approaches involve engaging with the higher-level thinking areas of the brain known as the neocortex, whereas bottom up ones seek to engage with the emotional brain known as the limbic system.
Proponents of the bottom up methods argue that relief from symptoms simply cannot be successfully achieved by talking alone. Instead they promote the use of somatic or body interventions to address the root cause which they believe can always be located in the body itself. They contend that certain events trigger stress and anxiety and result in activation of the more primitive parts of the brain that operate outside of our conscious awareness.
In other words, stress and anxiety need to be traced back to their most basic form of bodily sensations. The theory goes that certain stressful experiences leave their mark on our bodies without us even realising.
Somatic methods involve connecting with and exploring bodily sensations under the supervision of trained professionals. This examination will allow us to gain awareness of emotions, images and insights that were previously inaccessible to us, and subsequently become conscious of the experiences that are the root course of our symptoms.
Khody Damestani, co-founder of mental health and wellbeing company, MyMindPal, says:
“Stress and anxiety affect both our minds and our bodies.The exciting fields of body therapy offer another avenue by which stress and anxiety can be released and relief from mental health problems can be achieved.”