Core Process Psychotherapy in Cardiff
A Compassionate Approach to Therapy
I am currently training with the Karuna Institute ('Karuna' meaning Compassion) in a psycho-spiritual therapy called Core Process Psychotherapy, which is a depth relational mindfulness therapy that integrates Buddhist psychology and compassion practices, with western psychotherapeutic theory.
Avoiding our Emotional Pain
Being with distress and suffering is painful and it is natural to want to avoid it. Many of us develop 'strategies' to bypass difficult feelings. We can, for example, disassociate from our feelings by becoming very calm or 'numbing out', or can 'act out' our anxiety by fixing on and recycling our worries, ruminating or becoming compulsive in one way or another. We may contract around our anxiety and become quite reactive in how we deal with people, situations and difficulties, which can compound our distress. We may have arguments and blame others, rather than own our anger, vulnerability or suffering. These 'survival strategies' can eventually keep us stuck and we can start to believe that that set of behaviours is who we are, as we identify increasingly with these strategies, and become quite fixed around them, which can further shut us down from our inherent health.
Feeling our Feelings
Over time, through becoming more aware of how 'survival strategies' may have formed aspects of our personality, some of which me might like, some of which we might find unlikeable, we can start to go beyond these defence mechanisms, and touch the pain that they 'protect' us from. In facing our emotional pain, rather than avoiding it, we can acknowledge our suffering which also contains the seeds of wholeness. As uncertainty, anxiety, and a level of suffering, can be seen as a natural part of life, in integrating this within ourselves as part of our healthy psyche, we can start to remove the blocks that obscure the inherent wholeness at our core.
Witnessing our Feelings
Naming our feelings and noticing what is happening inside our emotional body can help us to respond creatively rather than react or identify solely with our feelings. Witnessing our feelings means we stay spacious and open to change and deepening into our inner life, rather than contracting around our distress. I think mindfulness teacher Gelong Thusten puts this well: 'we can learn to identify with the part of the mind which observes that emotion; we can discover that the backdrop of all experiences is spacious and free. That awareness is far greater than the pain and suffering we so often find ourselves caught up in.'