I have also worked with hundreds of patients as a doctor, so I have a firm grounding in knowing how to safely work with the body and how to counsel people through difficult times.
I integrate all of this in my work at First Light Clinic.
You do not need to know or understand about any of these techniques in order to work with me but for those of you who want some more information, please read on.
Being mindful is simply the act of noticing any aspect of your present moment experience from a non-judgemental perspective, whether that be the breath, body sensations, sounds, thoughts or feelings.
Learning to see your mind and body from this perspective opens up space to explore new possibilities of change from the inside-out.
Whilst a meditation practice can have many benefits, it is still possible to gain much insight and inner balance from regular, brief moments of mindful awareness throughout your day, even if you don't do any longer meditations. So whilst I can support you if you wanted to develop a meditation practice, it is not essential.
There is so much research showing that mindful awareness reduces inner stress. When you realise how many physical health conditions are worsened by the inflammatory effects of chronic stress you realise just how important it could be for your health and life to learn how to liberate yourself from this unnecessary inner turmoil. External stress is often out of your control but internal stress is a habit of your mind, which can be transformed once it is seen and understood.
I trained as a mindfulness teacher in 2019 and mindfulness theory and practice underpins all of the other approaches that I use.
Bringing mindful awareness to the present moment is not only about being a neutral observer of what you find there; it also gives rise to the possibility of inquiring more deeply into your experience.
Your thoughts and feelings arise from an underlying overall sense of how things are for you in that moment, which is rich in personal meaning and innate wisdom.
A common way we have of describing this underlying sense of knowing is 'gut feelings' or some call it body intelligence or the feeling mind.
Whatever you want to call it, the truth is that your body knows much more than you can think.
I teach a method called Focusing, which is a way of sensing into this aspect of your experience, allowing fresh perspectives and deeper meaning to emerge.
I started training in Focusing in 2017 and I am now fully qualified as a Focusing Practitioner with the British Focusing Association (BFA). I love Focusing and have found it to be such a useful skill in all areas of my life. It has helped me to find space in the midst of overwhelm, discover vital parts of myself that have been hidden for years and to deepen my ability to really listen to another person, truly hear what they are saying and attune to their experience.
I integrate Focusing with the other modalities that I use but I can teach Focusing specifically if you prefer.
For more information about Focusing, go to www.focusing.org.uk.
Emotionally or physically significant events from your past can become encoded in your nervous system, meaning that your body may be holding onto or re-living a memory, which it was not able to process at the time. These encoded traumatic events can show up in the body as anxiety, phobias, panic, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, fatigue and more. They can also worsen the symptoms of any other health problem.
I use a method called Havening, which helps to process and release these encoded events.
Havening works by using touch on the arms, face and hands.
Touching the body in these areas rapidly alters brain wave activity, signalling safety to the deep parts of the brain, which words alone cannot reach. The touch is similar to how a parent would naturally respond to a crying baby, an innate embodied compassionate communication that bypasses the conscious mind and is able to bring rapid comfort to the non-verbal infant.
I can teach you how to do Havening to yourself so we can use this method even when working online. This also means that you can use Havening as a self-help tool in between sessions.
Like many other Havening practitioners, I have found that these techniques can be extremely successful in treating anxiety-based disorders and sometimes only a very small number of sessions are needed.
Havening is a gentle but powerful method that can also be used to build resilience and self-confidence.
I have also found that using Havening alongside the other modalities that I use can help to deepen present-moment awareness and create safety around turning towards difficult feelings so that they can be felt, understood and released.
If you have a history of emotional trauma then you may feel unsafe in many day-to-day situations.
It can then become very difficult to focus on any activity or relationship that might help you to recover, because your body tells you to run.
Helping you to find a sense of inner safety is my primary concern because it is from there that you can start to rebuild the life that you want to live.
If you have experienced a lot of emotional trauma in your life then this may take time and, as I am not trained in complex trauma, I may recommend that you see a trauma specialist if the methods that I use are not suitable.
For more information about Havening, go to www.havening.org.
Sarah Hadfield is a certified practitioner of Havening Techniques.
Havening Techniques is a registered trade mark of
Ronald Ruden, 15 East 91st Street, New York.
Behavioural Health - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy - ACT
ACT is part of the so-called third wave of behavioural therapies, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) being in the second wave. Rather than just looking at specific behaviours and trying to change them by challenging the related thought processes, ACT focuses more on the function of a particular behaviour, how it has developed and whether it is still working in terms of your current life situation.
In order to understand how your behaviour is functioning in your life you need to look at it from the inside, in the present moment, and explore how it interacts with your thoughts, feelings and the external context of your life. From this perspective it is much easier to begin to choose a different way of behaving that makes more sense and that can break the endless cycle of pain and avoidance.
Decades of research into the processes underlying the effectiveness of ACT have shown that this way of understanding and working with our inner experience is clinically useful in a wide-range of mental and physical health problems.
This research is also leading to some ground-breaking changes in how mental health disorders and their treatments are currently understood and categorised, with an emphasis on the processes that are producing and maintaining symptoms rather than the actual symptoms themselves.
There is no formal qualification in ACT but I have read extensively about the underlying theories and their application. I regularly attend experiential workshops, practising my understanding and skills.