Emotional Resolution is about balancing your feelings by addressing the emotions that are embedded in our bodies, replaying when triggered by similar situations, enlarging the scope of the current circumstances and keeping us in a seemingly endless cycle of drama and pain.
Neuroscientist and trauma researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, MD has spent his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences. He has some very interesting things to say about how trauma affects our bodies and compensating behaviors.
“The trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse and war wreaks havoc in our bodies” — Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score
He says that we commonly think that trauma is a story about the past, but in fact, trauma makes changes to our brain, so that the person sees and experiences the world differently than other human beings. Research shows that “it is almost impossible to become a drug addict/alcoholic without having a prior history of childhood trauma.” Addiction is the result of these people desperately trying to manage unbearable physical sensations.
Peter Levine, PhD has also spent a career working with trauma. He developed a body-awareness approach to healing trauma called Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE focuses on the physiological responses that occur when someone experiences or remembers an overwhelming or traumatic event, in his or her body, rather than only through the thoughts or emotions connected to it. His method is to allow and encourage the body’s sensations, trapped by the trauma, to discharge using a number of “resources” to ground the person in the present moment, that reinforce the client’s inherent capacity to self-regulate.
“The bodies of traumatized people portray “snapshots” of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time… Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word- they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult, if not impossible, to function normally under these circumstances.” — Peter A. Levine
I find it affirming, and corroborating, that these two world renowned and respected experts in the field of trauma research both agree that unprocessed emotions are trapped in the body. And that the best path to recovery is by working to release the frozen emotions from the body.
Connecting Trauma and Chronic Pain
In my own work, I’ve found that my clients who are struggling with the repercussions of trauma have issue on two fronts: Emotional and Physical. Often times they are in traditional therapy of some kind, but find it hard to make headway because of chronic body pain.
Traumatic emotions are buried in the body and resurface as pain and named disorders when left unresolved over long periods of time.
Bowen Technique is a system of gentle bodywork, that brings equilibrium to fascia (connective tissue) tension in the body. It is very relaxing and stimulates the body’s nervous systems to re-balance, prompting a healing response on structural and energetic levels Short answer: it feels really good and takes the pain away.
When pain is first and foremost in a person’s mind, it is very difficult to work on anything else, even if “anything else” is critical to relieving emotional pain, which is also critical to recovery. I’ve found that applying Bowen to chronic pain is a necessary first step. When the body calms down, after a session or two of Bowen, clients find their traditional therapy much more productive. They can remember, focus and do the work with out the distracting onslaught of pain.
Adding an Emotional Resolution (EmRes) session before Bowen is a powerful advantage. Emotional Resolution is a simple method of releasing buried emotions, regardless of the circumstances around their internment. The client recalls an emotional situation of note, and the practitioner guides them thru a protocol of physical sensory awareness which releases the triggered emotion that is buried in the body. Immediately afterwards the clients receives a Bowen session to help the body finish processing the emotion release and do the primary work of balancing the fascia to release and ignite a healing response.
The combination of Emotional Resolution and Bowen is amazing. There is a synergy and reciprocity between the two disciplines that coordinate responses between physical and emotional bodies. They literally talk the language of the limbic system that is holding the emotions, the body memories, in stasis and provides portals for their discharge and release.
Emotion work and Body work, individually, can be an asset to any recovery process. But together in the same session, they have produced headway and breakthroughs in my clients. These cases reinforce my enthusiasm and desire to champion this work. It’s so important to those of us that need it.
Are you ready to release your buried trauma and chronic body pain?
Video with Bessel van der Kolk
Youtube with Peter Levine