James appeared deflated and confused as he sat in my office. He has been in treatment for months and he had shown progress in getting sober and taking back his life that addiction and depression had stolen.
“I am just so angry all the time. I stopped using drugs, alcohol, smoking and I started exercising and eating better. Through treatment I have been able to learn skills and tools to help me manage my life; but I still get so upset and frustrated with triggers that I don’t see coming. I just feel like giving up.”
James came to treatment after being without work for months. He had lost all of his relationships and he would hide away in his apartment playing video games, using drugs and drinking himself to sleep every night. He appeared troubled that after all those changes, he couldn’t manage his emotions in his environment. I pushed him further to share about his recent outburst of anger and how he felt. As he relayed the story, his tension was palpable. He spoke rapidly about the lady getting in his way at the store and his immediate rage. As he sat seething from reliving the experience he whispered “I feel like the time when I was robbed”.
This phrase caught my attention and I inquired more about this past experience. He seemed surprised that he hadn’t mentioned it to me before. As he recounted the story, it became more evident to that he had a traumatic event. In this, he had formed a “requirement”. This is when a person takes a thought and turns it into a belief or truth that they are compelled to follow about how they or their environment should be.
I engaged him in Mapping and Bridging techniques from Mind Body Bridging for the next several minutes. As we worked through the maps to discover his requirement it dawned on him that people shouldn’t take advantage of me. At that point he appeared to melt into his chair and his face relaxed. He realized that people will take advantage of him, intentionally or not, at times in his life. Understanding that this requirement was just a thought and that he could let them go appeared to open up his acceptance and let go of past hurt.
This is the beauty of Mind Body Bridging. The changes come not from the therapist coming up with the insight; rather it is the person that is able to use the tools to find those hidden requirements and gain freedom from their addictions and maladaptive behaviors. I choose to use Mind Body Bridging because it is simple, and the tools and concepts work immediately.
THE SKILLS IN A NUT SHELL
Mind Body Bridging reminds you that your Mind and Body work together; for this reason they affect one another when triggered. The term used to identify the two working together is called your Identity System. When we are effective in our lives, our Identify System is at rest; this means that the mind is clear (no racing thoughts) and that your body is calm (no tension). Think to yourself how much of your day is spent with an active Identity system; your mind is cluttered with racing thoughts and your body is full of tension? Now consider what it would be like to be able to respond to situations with a calm mind and relaxed body? The following are the simple tools that are offered to gain this outcome.
Mapping: Mapping is a tool that gives a person a chance to unload all the thoughts and feelings in their head by scattering them onto a piece a paper about a triggering event or person. They then learn how to identify what is their requirement by breaking down these thoughts and feelings further. Once they gain this insight they now present with a clear mind that will help them choose their behaviors rather than be compelled or controlled by them.
Bridging: This tool is to help a tense body go to calm in a matter of seconds to minutes. It engages your five senses. The person allows themselves to focus on one of these senses. This could include experiencing the sensation of touch maybe by running your fingers through your hair or feeling the fabric of the chair that you are sitting in. You could also listen to the background sounds or experience a smell that you like. The reality is that we are using a self-soothing technique that we witness babies using daily; the ability to calm themselves through their senses. As you use this tool, you start to feel your body relax and notice that your mind slows as well.
Thought Labeling: A person uses this tool to identify thoughts that get their Identify System active by vocalizing the thought they are having is just a thought and they can let it float away as easily as it came in.
And He Lived….
James left that session feeling like a weight had been lifted that he had been carrying for the last several years. As he used the tools of mapping and bridging, he found that he had control of his emotions for the first time. His need to meet with me lessened and his empowerment to engage in his life rather than hide behind his addictions increased.
A year later I received an email from James. He reports that he has not only moved on to better jobs, but he has found the love of his life. He indicates he is still sober and living his life fully and he thanks me for giving him the insight that changed him forever that day in my office.
I have treated people using this modality to treat addictions, trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, personality and mood disorders. I have seen them come with tense bodies and racing thoughts that they cannot seem to sit still or stay focused. I have come to witness them physically change and find power over their behaviors to where their past events or addictions no longer become the solution. It is simple, fast and effective and can create an empowered self that people think was not possible when they come into treatment. I wholeheartedly believe in this therapy. I know this can help you too.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Cold Creek Wellness