So many of us are in our heads most of the time. Our minds are useful for thinking about the future or the past, whether remembering, fantasising, planning, or ruminating. Whether anxiously going over the last conversation to figure out whether you said the ‘right’ thing, or imagining all the possible outcomes that could happen just in case.
What our minds are not so great at is being present. Being present in the here and now requires us to bring our awareness more into our whole body: the experience of being alive, right now, with all its associated sensations and feelings.
The thing is that this can often feel scary, impossible, or frustrating if those sensations and feelings are too much. It feels easier to hang out in your head, entertaining anxious thoughts or anticipating what could go wrong. It’s a great distraction from what’s actually happening in the here and now.
If you can’t access how you’re feeling right now in your body, then it becomes hard to know where your boundaries are, what you want, and what you need. This is often a trauma response, based on ways of surviving that many of us developed in our earliest years. We end up projecting the past onto the present, not seeing things as they really are and instead carrying internalised beliefs about relationships that we learned in childhood.
Because we fail to experience life as it is really happening, we end up reinforcing the patterns we feel most stuck in, unable to have new experiences of safe, loving connection and secure attachment.
Psychosexual Somatics Therapy (PST) works to gradually bring awareness to the feelings and emotions you might be avoiding, the stories and beliefs that undermine your efforts to have healthy relationships, and where these patterns have come from. From here we can begin to change them.
PST is a gentle, trauma-aware method of moving through intimacy challenges – sexual, relational, or emotional. It emphasises nervous system regulation while addressing childhood attachment issues, by combining a cognitive understanding of the emotional root causes underneath the presenting issue, alongside embodied practices and somatic awareness.
What does a PST coaching session look like?
PST is influenced by psychotherapy, counselling, neuroscience, clinical sexology, and body-based modalities such as Somatic Experiencing. As such, sessions can be a combination of different approaches depending on what may serve the client best.
The journey will always start with an assessment session, which will mainly involve talking through your challenges, goals, and patterns. We’ll explore the strategies you’ve developed to keep yourself safe, including where they may have originated from, to understand how they may be keeping you in disconnection now.
Subsequent sessions are informed by the assessment, and the pace you want to work at. They may include:
- Body tracking and somatic awareness: guiding you through noticing sensation in the body, and giving time and space to feel it
- Embodiment exercises: using posture, movement, and sound to allow expressions that may be habitually suppressed
- Cognitive understanding: keeping the mind happy with an intellectual context and framework for the work we’re doing
- Movement exercises: using gentle movement as an effective way to down-regulate the nervous system
- Guided meditations: slowing everything right down, and giving you space to allow whatever is in your experience
- Playing with space and proximity in the room to explore your relationship with different parts of yourself, and with others
Whichever specific exercises we use, the emphasis is always on going slowly, and introducing plenty of tools and resources to help you down-regulate your nervous system. This means that we can come up against edges and explore them carefully, gently challenging them in a way that allows for integration afterwards.
What can PST coaching help with?
Because the PST approach involves going all the way back to our earliest experiences of attachment, embodiment, and relational dynamics, it’s a modality which can be used to help with all sorts of challenges with intimacy.
These may include:
- Feeling stuck in destructive or unhelpful relationship patterns
- Challenges with identifying wants or needs in relationship
- Sexual challenges with libido, discomfort, pain, or orgasm
- Difficulty managing and expressing emotional responses
- Not knowing where your boundaries are or how to express them
- Feeling unable to identify what you want, or ask for it
The way we show up everywhere – in therapy, coaching, relationships, or sex – is a reflection of the strategies we learned as we were growing up. In a safe container, these strategies can be explored to teach you more about yourself. Bringing awareness to your patterns, and involving the whole body, is the fastest and gentlest way to integrate the parts of yourself that are getting in the way of having the relationships you want.
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