How Change Really Happens in Therapy –
A Holistic Approach
Watch the video with Kim Burris, Licensed Psychotherapist. Read along with the transcript below.
Hi everybody. Today I want to talk to you about how change happens…and in the context of why therapy works, specifically holistic therapy, which is a mind-body approach to healing and transformation.
I’m Kim Burris, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I have a holistic psychotherapy practice here in El Dorado Hills. Feel free to message me if you have any questions about that or check out my website at kimburris.com.
So basically how change works at a very fundamental level is…your brain changes. So you’ve heard this phrase, right, what fires together, wires together. And so our brain is more than what’s here in our head. So I often think that there’s this sense of a…drawbridge here for many of us. And what happens is…
It’s very easy for us to stay in our head and think, and we’re kind of under this illusion, this spell that our brain, our thoughts are everything…
I can change my thoughts, I can change my mindset, I can change everything. And on some level that’s true. But this idea of how we actually impact our thoughts, how we actually experience change is a little more subtle and also much more expansive than just changing your thoughts. So sometimes that can work, but often what we find, if you think about this idea of the mind and this idea of being right, think of…just take a minute here to think of yourself. Ask yourself this question. It’s a big one, but just stay with me… WHO AM I? Think about what comes up… Am I… When you say, who am I?
Are you your body? Are you just your thoughts? Are you just your feelings?
What are you, and part of that…being curious about what comes up for you is, in my experience in working with clients ….the secret sauce, the magic door, the way in. And the way in, what I sense and what’s important about that, what I want to offer you is this sense again of this drawbridge.
How do we open up space to create more capacity? Not only for our thoughts, but for our feelings and for our way of being in the world. And what I find is the way to actually shift and change the brain, shift and change our thoughts, which therefore shifts and changes how we experience life, right? Less suffering, more joy, less fear, more love. The way in is the way through, that is this integration, so that we have awareness of our thoughts, awareness of our feelings, awareness of how we are in the world. And we can sense and feel on this subtle level, where am I suffering? Am I suffering in my heart? Am I suffering in my thoughts? Am I holding tension and stress in my body? Right?
And so the brain wants to say, the mind wants to say, your thoughts want to say, ‘I’ve got it all covered‘. I’ve got it figured out, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. That stuff from your childhood? We figured it out. It’s fine. I understand what happened and therefore I’m okay. And what that does is it closes right here. And then we stay right here in our thoughts on the hamster wheel. Oh, that thing. Oh, I’ve got it. Oh, I’m feeling…Yes, I’m fine. And we just move through. It’s really easy to stay in our heads. You’re not alone in this. If you’re like, that’s me, Oh my God, I’m totally messed up. No, you’re not, you’re totally human. It’s a really easy place to be. It’s a safe place to be. And by safe, I mean culturally, that’s kind of what’s expected. That we be strong, we be independent, we figure it out.
How change actually happens is a whole body system.
So the brain, the body, it’s all one unit. The circuitry of our body is our organs, our hearts, our feelings, our minds, our thoughts, our nervous system. It’s all interconnected. You can’t just measure the impact of your thoughts without looking at the whole body. So the way in is the way through. And there’s many ways in, not just becoming aware of your thoughts and changing your thoughts. That’s one way. That’s a common way.
Often people think when you go into therapy, you’re just going to talk and become aware of some thoughts that maybe aren’t working for you and replace them…
And then you’re moving along in your day and all as well. Right? And oftentimes what happens is that can work on a subtle level or for some things, but it’s not going to rewire the nervous system. It’s not going to give you a new way of relating to other people.
So we’re born in relationship. We live in relationship. I always tell myself and my clients, we’re not born alone on islands. If we were meant to be independent and figure out how to evolve and learn and grow and experience love and peace and joy alone, I’m imagining somehow we would have been born alone on our own Island to figure that out. But we’re not right? We’re here together. So there’s gotta be something to this whole being in a relationship stuff. There’s something about being human and relating. And what we see is that, when we look at the brain, when you look at the nervous system, we are not only psychologically, but mentally and physiologically wired to be in connection.
So the goal of life is not to become independent and not need anybody else. The goal is actually to learn how to be in a relational circuitry.
And that just means how can I be myself with other people. How can I engage with other people and connect with other people and experience myself? You see, I’m even doing this with my hands, how do I just be more expanded, take up more space in the world. And so this is part of why therapy works and why a relationship, a relational space is healing. Because not only does our stuff come up with things that are scary for our body, our body is constantly scanning the environment for safety. And for many of us, we’re not quite sure what safety feels like. We’re not quite sure how to rest there.
So things can feel very dangerous and that can come from childhood neglect, abuse, trauma. It can also come from just a relational mismatch. So if you’re feeling like, ahhhhhh, there’s more here… There’s more I could be experiencing….Honoring that! You don’t have to have big T trauma or an identifiable thing, this terrible thing or things happened to me, right? Yes. Then we need extra support. If we have these things we can identify.
But you know what? Sometimes it’s this subtle mismatch of your temperament, your caregiver’s temperament, just not quite being aligned. And that can cause a lot of pain. It can cause your little self, when you were growing up to just kind of be a little more like this, a little more protected, a little more defensive. A little more…I’ll create safety by adjusting to what you need. And we all do it to some level. Again, you’re human. You’re not alone in that. And so this opportunity within the therapeutic space, within the relational space is to come in and look at that, shine the light of awareness on what do I do, what happens for me in relationship and to have a new experience with another person.
We can have really profound shifts and transformations in a meditative space, spiritual, contemplative prayerful space. And those are very important. What I have found personally and professionally is we can expand upon those spaces and accelerate our transformation, our integration, by doing the work within a relationship.
And so, I’m hoping that gives you guys just a little bit of information about the brain and the body and the heart and maybe it’s piqued your interest on what therapy is. I feel like for a lot of people, a lot of clients I work with, they, they’ve never been in therapy and they’re very curious about this holistic piece, this idea of there being space for spiritual practice, for spirituality, these bigger existential questions of what are we doing here? What am I doing here? What is life all about? Right? And I find when we kind of hold a space for exploring ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings, our way of being in relationship with that expanded awareness as well, that curiosity, that it’s just a really beautiful, soft place to land. And it can feel very safe and supportive to move from that place.
I also work with a lot of people that have been in therapy before and found some parts helpful, some parts not helpful. I am not at all saying that the holistic model is the end all be all. I definitely think it’s amazing and where so much of psychology practices are moving and evolving as we integrate neuroscience awareness into contemplative practices and also clinical practices. I think it’s just a really beautiful offering and opportunity and just really beneficial. Obviously this is what I do for my work and also just personally it’s a lot of my personal practices as well.
So if you guys have any questions leave me a comment below or send me a message. Again, my name is Kim Burris. I’m a holistic psychotherapist. I have a practice here in El Dorado Hills. I do see clients remotely online if you reside in the state of California.
I’m looking forward to having more conversations and offering some more information and practices here on these videos. So I hope you have a wonderful day or evening, wherever you are at in the world, in life, in your practice, be well, take care of yourself, and I look forward to talking again soon.
All right, take care. Bye!
Kim is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in supporting individuals struggling with anxiety and depression and motherhood. A yogi and a psychotherapist, she believes that being human is a practice and that healing and change is always possible. Kim currently offers holistic psychotherapy and counseling to individuals in El Dorado Hills, CA. She also provides tele-health/online counseling. Call/text to find out more: 916.467.9539.