Psychotherapy for Personal Exploration in Santa Barbara

Psychotherapy for Personal Exploration
Personal Exploration

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look in once in awhile, you might miss it. - Ferris Bueller


What Does Personal Exploration and Transformation Mean?

Mind, Body, Spirit
Psychotherapy can also be utilized for personal growth, exploration, and transformation

Psychotherapy is most often associated with the resolution of problems and this is indeed one of its most important functions. However, psychotherapy can also be utilized for personal growth, exploration, and transformation.

There seems to be something in all of us that wants to be awakened in order to become a more complete and fulfilled person. Psychotherapy can provide an important forum to awaken us to the essential dimensions of our being; the body, mind and spirit.

Developing a Strong Body

To keep the body in good health is a duty...otherwise we will not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. -Buddha

The foundation of good mental health is physical health
The foundation of good mental health is physical health

The foundation of good mental health is physical health. To live a full, healthy life it is essential for ongoing examination of the state of our physical health.

This examination includes having a primary care physician, completing an annual physical and working with the physician to assure an understanding of all medical evaluation procedures/tests and, when necessary, the plan to resolve any medical issues.

This examination also includes the importance of a good diet, exercise, and "watching our weight" in order to have the energy and physical health to appreciate and be actively involved in creating a truly enjoyable life.

It takes more than just a good looking body. You have to have the heart and soul to go with it.
- Epictetus

People often spend more time working on your bodies than on their mind and spirit. How we view our body, and how we think others view us physically, impacts our life in significant ways. Our cultural obsession with being thin has driven many to developing an eating disorder or to feelings of depression and anxiety.

An example of the seriousness of our obsession of striving for the cultural value of being thin is the fact that 20 million American women and 10 million American men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder sometime in their lives.

Exploration of how we view and treat our bodies is important
Exploration of how we view and treat our bodies is important
Psychotherapy for Personal Exploration

Eating disorders result from starving oneself (anorexia nervosa), regularly purging food (bulimia nervosa), and compulsive overeating (binge eating disorder). Research over the past fifty years indicates that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

There doesn't have to be eating disorder for there to be a struggle with body image. Exploration of how we view and treat our bodies is important for the development of a more positive, accepting, and realistic view of "our physical being."

Exploring our physical health and body image can be transformative...

Developing a Strong Mind

If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.
- Mary Englebreit

Success is a State of Mind
Rule Your Mind or Your Mind will Rule You

The mind is a powerful tool which can have a tremendous impact on whether we view ourselves in a positive or negative light. Our minds are like a computer, and like a computer our minds occasionally need to "rebooted" and, at times, even turned off.

Learning to have our minds work for, not against us, is essential for our overall health and well being. It is important to examine the quality of our thoughts and to become more conscious of what thoughts dominate our lives in order to maximize our human potential.

Learning to handle stress is a vitally important skill needed toward building a strong mental life. In this regard to assess the daily stressors and what strategies are being utilized to control and deal with stress.

Not all stress is bad. When we feel stress we release important nerve chemicals and hormones into our bodies in order to face ("fight") or flee ("flight") a threat that jeopardizes our safety. Reacting to stress is essential for survival.

Problems result when the stress goes on for too long, especially when the dangers have subsided. Chronic stress can suppress those same nerve chemicals and hormones that were once helpful.

Not all stress is bad.  Problems result when there is ongoing stress
Not all stress is bad. Problems result when there is ongoing stress

The physiological consequences of long term stress are significant; problems can occur in digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems. These systems can stop working normally.

People under chronic stress are also more susceptible to severe viral infections, such as flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as flu shots, become less effective.

There are three types of stress which carry physical and mental health risks. Routine Stress related to work, finances, interpersonal problems, sexual dysfunction and problems related to daily responsibilities.

Sudden Negative Stress is brought about by a sudden, dramatic change such as losing a job, divorce, or serious illness. Traumatic stress is related to a major incident that significantly violates our sense of safety: major accident, war, rape, physical assault, or natural disaster.

Ongoing stress can also lead to life threatening health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Obviously we can only control so much of the world, however learning to reduce stress will make life more manageable and enjoyable.

There is no one way to reduce stress. Every person needs to find their own unique way to "recharge the batteries". This means developing, or returning to, activities that give enjoyment and pleasure. It's amazing what scheduling even brief periods of "my time" into a weekly schedule can have on our mental and physical health.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. 
- William Burroughs

In order to avoid "burning out" or becoming seriously ill from the stressors of life, it is important to learn to give our mind periods of rest. Learning meditative and/or mindfulness techniques can "turn off the computer" for awhile.

Find unique ways to relax, avoid stress and enjoy life
Find unique ways to relax, avoid stress and enjoy life

Learning the skill to relax can also result in experiencing a great calmness and a deep feeling of peace. Besides the importance to physical health, when the mind is relaxed, the "inner voice" finally has a chance to speak and share its wisdom. This wisdom can provide answers that can lead to handling stress in a more effective manner.

Exploring the quality of our thoughts and how to relax and deal with stress can be transformative...

Developing a Strong "Spiritual" Life

While we have the gift of life, it seems...the only tragedy is to allow a part of us to die, whether it be our spirit, our creativity, or are glorious uniqueness.
- Gildner Radner

Finding your own way

We often confuse the development of a strong spiritual life with religion, or becoming religious. Certainly religion can play a very important role in our overall well being. If someone is religious psychotherapy can enhance and deepen spirituality and faith. However, there doesn't have to be a commitment to an organized religion in order for someone to develop a strong spiritual life.

Psychotherapy for personal exploration and growth does not advocate for any religious doctrine but for taping into the life giving part of ourselves, the part that energizes and gives meaning to our life.

Psychotherapy - Finding Your Way

When we know what our primary purpose in life is, or "why we are here", life becomes more important and valued both for ourselves and for those around us. When we believe nothing really matters, including the purpose of our life, we debase the human spirit.

Learning our special, unique gift makes living much more fulfilling. It affects all aspects of our life including our relationship with significant others, with co-workers and with family and friends. Knowing our special gift awakens our spirit to live life in a more focused and resolute manner, to realize how we live our life really does matter.

Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.
- Cecil B. DeMille

Psychotherapy can reawaken the imagination to be creative
Psychotherapy can reawaken the imagination to be creative

Our spirit comes alive through the ability to see life as our ongoing creation. The metaphor of God's creation can also apply to us. In many ways we create the life we live every seven days.

Reawakening the imagination to create occurs through many mediums, some surprising. Most often people think that there are only a few avenues for creativity like music, art, and writing poetry. These are excellent forums to express our creative energies.

However, by its very nature creativity has no set rules or boundaries. Creating a beautiful garden or remodeling an old car can inspire and make us feel more alive. It all comes down to avoiding the trap of what is considered creative, to what "gives us juice and a more complete feeling of being alive."

Often the hands know how to solve a (problem) with which the intellect has wrestled in vain.
- Carl Jung

Sand Tray Therapy can energize your spirit
Sand Tray Therapy can energize your spirit

Sand Tray Therapy is one psychotherapeutic tool (see Sand Tray Therapy) that can reawaken the spirit. The process allows for each individual to be creative, to experience a world of their own creation.

Sand Tray Therapy is like a "psychological x-ray" - a picture can be taken (usually from an iphone) from the office for ongoing reflection and assistance after the session is over. Sand Tray Therapy is a visual experience that often clarifies what the intellect cannot elucidate, or words cannot explain. It often enlightens in different ways than "talk therapy.

There are other ways to be creative and energize the spirit during Psychotherapy for Personal Exploration that include, but aren't limited to, narrative therapy (exploring your "life story'), journaling (ongoing self reflection), dream work (exploration of the meaning of dreams), and (social action (exploring ways to contribute to making the world a better place). 

Exploring and enhancing our "spiritual" and creative life can be transformative... 

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there are only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist (again) through any other medium and will be lost (forever).
- Martha Graham 

Developing a strong body, mind, and spiritual life is essential to taking advantage of all that life has to offer and leads, until life ends, to the ongoing experience of a deep self fulfillment as we face the challenges and opportunities of our daily lives.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.
Mary Englebreit

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