My “Try Something New” Experience: A Hate-Love Relationship w/ Yoga
OK, full disclosure from your therapist: I used to not be a fan of meditation or yoga. I know, I know–how is that possible? Meditation, yoga, mindfulness… all of these things go hand-in-hand with therapy. How can a therapist be aversive to them?! The short answer is I just didn’t believe in them. I loved my weight-lifting and my cycling classes; I loved activities that got my blood pumping and adrenaline flowing, and practices like yoga and meditation didn’t achieve any of those sensations. I knew that they had their benefits: my friends would gush about how it revitalized them, refreshed them, and relaxed them, encouraged them to slow down, take a break, and check in with their minds and bodies. I loved that for them, but I knew what I liked and I knew what worked for me… or so I thought.
Then, one week when I had tweaked my lower back and couldn’t lift, I finally caved and signed up for a yoga class. At first, I felt so out of place and constantly questioned if this was the right activity for me. The instructor opened class with, “Take a deep breath and clear your mind. Notice the air filling your lungs, the mat beneath your body. Be still. Be here.” “How?” I snapped back, in my head, “My thoughts are racing at a 100mph, as usual. I have so much to do today. I’m wasting time here, doing nothing. This is so stupid.” But I stuck it through, and as the hour passed and class ended, I was astonished at how relaxed, refreshed, and revitalized I felt. “Whoa,” I thought to myself, “This actually works!”
Is yoga and meditation my preferred form of fitness now? No, but I understand how it can be beneficial, and I’m more willing to pop into a class when I need that reset. It’s a resource that I never would have uncovered if I didn’t push myself to try something new, allow myself to sit through the discomfort, and trust in the process.
In many ways, trying new things in therapy is a similar experience. Many clients enter therapy with an idea of how it’ll go, what it’ll look like, how long it’ll take, what they want, and what they believe will work for them. On one hand, I can appreciate the initiative, but I also want to encourage clients to be open to trying new things. There is no “one size fits all” therapy and everyone reacts differently to different approaches. So there’s no way of knowing whether something will work if you don’t give it a shot, right?
Out-of-the Box, Different Forms of Therapy
Take EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) Therapy and Neurofeedback Therapy, for example. (If you haven’t seen my other posts about these modalities yet, keep a look out for them later this week!) These forms of therapy are very different from traditional “talk therapy,” and if a client isn’t familiar with them, they may not be as willing to try something different. I’ll admit–even as a therapist, I was hesitant to attempt something new, but I mustered up the courage and plunged in anyway.
For those who are unfamiliar, EMDR is a powerful, yet gentle form of therapy that works by processing traumatic memories/experiences, which reduces the intensity of the feelings & body sensations attached to the trauma. It uses bilateral stimulation (either through eye movement or physical taps) to help process and desensitize traumatic memories. So we remember, rather than relive, them. Additionally, this therapy capitalizes on the belief that the brain wants, and knows how, to heal, so the client themselves is formulating their own connections, insights, and conclusions. The concept of using bilateral stimulation was so foreign to me, but after experiencing it for myself as a recipient and administering it to my clients later, it was incredible to once again have that “Whoa, it works!” moment.
Now, onto Neurofeedback Therapy, which is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes low-frequency brainwaves to encourage the brain to develop healthier patterns of activity. It can help with chronic pain, headaches/migraines, sleep and gastro issues, concentration, anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, and other symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system. This is accomplished by attaching nodes to specific parts on the client’s head and concentrating the brainwaves to those specific areas, encouraging oxygenation, blood circulation, and healing. For those unfamiliar to this process, it is truly a fascinating sight! Once again, however, it’s something very different and it doesn’t typically come to mind when people think of therapy. This was another treatment that I mustered up the courage to try out, and I can personally say it has been life-changing! You guessed it–it was another “Whoa, it works!” moment.
It is normal to cling onto what feels familiar because trying something new is oftentimes scary and intimidating. But the caveat of that mentality is all the things that we could potentially be missing out on. You never know until you give it a shot! I hope this blog encourages you to try something new–both in your life and in therapy. If you’re interested in making that “new” thing EMDR or neurofeedback, or if you’re interested in what forms of therapy we offer, click the link in our bio or give our office a call today!
Maigen Pham, LPC
Maigen has worked with children, adolescents, adults, and couples – in addition to providing behavioral therapy to children with autism. Her approach to counseling is holistic, eclectic, and collaborative in order to help individualize sessions for each person. Additionally, as a Certified Sex Therapist-Candidate, Maigen provides therapy for individuals experiencing problems with sexual intimacy.