Interview with Psychotherapist Diana Guest – Chronic Unexpressed Emotion Can Lead to Symptoms of Unhappiness and Stress such as Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, or Decreased Sexuality.

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1. How important is the mind-body connection to all aspects of our lives?

The mind-body connection is imperative to being fully alive. It’s essential, nothing is more important. Life is a body experience; no one can be alive without one. We live in a culture that has focused primarily on the value of the mind and has disconnected the mind from the body. Only in recent years has the value of maintaining this connection come into the popular culture. To the extent to which the mind-body is segregated one’s experience in any arena of life will be divided resulting in a less unified experience of oneself and life.

Many people are taught to value being rational and have been taught not to value their emotions and to deny their felt experience resulting in a numbing of the body’s signals. When someone has shut down his/her body awareness, the body speaks louder and louder resulting in more severe health issues. Chronic unexpressed emotion can lead to symptoms of unhappiness and stress such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or decreased sexuality. Working directly with the body to relieve chronic tensions and release blocked emotions, one can become less locked up, more relaxed, and more able to enjoy life. When we can listen to the body self and integrate it into a whole experience one can lead a more authentic life. The body never lies but we tell ourselves lies with our mind on a daily basis. Once again the mind-body connection is essential.

2. If there is one piece to the puzzle missing most often in your clients’ lives, what does it tend to be? How might someone “fix” that missing link?

We have all learned to believe that parts of ourselves are unacceptable, and in order to fit within our family we must hide or deny these parts. We develop chronic muscular tension in our bodies as a result of these beliefs and repressions, and then live our lives so as not to disturb those muscle tensions that support these beliefs. We are taught to deny our own experiences. The split between the body and mind resulting in this society’s unhealthy dominance of intellect over one’s somatic experienced creates countless problems. This is a common root cause of anxiety and depression. I commonly hear stories in my office that stem from people either not following a “gut” feeling or being so cut off from their own felt sense that they make poor decisions for themselves. They do not trust their organismic selves. They may think they don’t trust others, however, the truth of the matter is that they don’t trust themselves to make a decision they can live with. They go round and round with their “thinking” and feel unable to take action. One way to “fix” this missing link is within the context of a relationship with a therapist who has the knowledge to work with this split both emotionally and physically. One such form of psychotherapy is Bioenergetic Analysis. It is a form of therapy that addresses the physical and emotional defenses one has established in one’s organismic self that prolongs the division and the problematic imbalance between the mind and body and reduces ones spontaneity, aliveness and sense of wholeness and connection to one’s world at large.

3. If you gave a two-minute “elevator pitch” counseling session to someone regarding how to transform their experience in life from the inside out, what would you say?

In truth, I would tell them to find a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist in order to get into a relationship with someone who will work with them emotionally and somatically to get them in touch with and aware of more of their whole self than they ever imagined and, thereby, manage their internal experiences in ways that bring about more pleasure and joy and less pain in every aspect of their life. Hence, this process also enhances one’s ability to both give and receive love!

4. How can a person bogged down by the mundane-ness of everyday life go about finding or creating a mind-body connection within himself or herself?

There are many ways to begin this process. Just noticing one’s breathing pattern and focusing on deepening one’s breathing can be very helpful. Stopping and focusing on what body sensations are present at any given moment; learning to be present “moment to moment” rather than worrying about the past or focusing on future events are all ways to begin creating a better mind-body awareness. However, given that all human beings organize characterologically against external causes of pain and internal pain creates among other things a numbness to the majority of one’s experiences both somatically and intellectually and makes it extremely difficult and rare for one to make these changes on one’s own. Entering into a relationship with another human being to loosen this character structure will enhance one’s internal life and increase their ability to deal with the day to day stresses of life as well as crises that may come up. It is beyond the ability of the human being to loosen this hold by him or herself. This must be done in a relationship because these patterns of restricting were created by and in relationship with their caregivers and environment.

5. What advice would you give same sex couples who are facing adversity? What steps can they take to remain strong as a couple and as individuals?

Although there are differences between same sex couples and an opposite sex couples, my “advice” would be similar as many of the issues are exactly the same. When facing adversity it is important to reach out to your support system, which can be friends, family, a therapist, church or support group. Many times couples withdraw due to their own variety of reasons. They may have learned that you don’t “air your dirty laundry” or “burden” others with your problems. But it is this kind of isolation that can exacerbate the problem. Additionally, it is important to strengthen their communication with and support of each other. This includes supporting each other’s differences. They may have differing views about how to handle the adversity. They may have different responses to the adversity. Being able to tolerate and support these differences will strengthen the relationship. It is also important to take time away from the problem and have some fun. This doesn’t mean ignoring the problem but creating an “oasis” away from the adversity.

About Diana Guest: DianaGuest.com

As a certified bioenergetic therapist and IMAGO relationship therapist, Diana believes strongly in the connection between our mind, body, and emotions and that all three need attending to in order to facilitate healing and create lasting change. She believes growth and change occur best within the safety of an authentic relationship where there is mutual trust and respect. Diana is committed to providing high quality professional care in a safe, confidential and respectful environment where new ways of relating and being in the world can be explored and experienced leading to a person living a more authentic life. She trains other clinical supervisors as an approved supervisor for both CAMFT and AAMFT. She is the faculty chair for the Southern California Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. Diana is also a published author and have been a keynote speaker and presented workshops at local, national and international conferences.

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