This one is for my beloved and respected yoga teacher peeps.
Let’s be honest… the first question you are asking is
What the heck is yoga-informed psychotherapy?
First and foremost it is psychotherapy. In Ontario, ‘psychotherapy’ is a regulated/controlled act: only professionals who have proven competence through education and active, supervised experience can perform such act. As a Registered Psychotherapist, it means that I have the educational background and clinical experience to ASSESS and TREAT cognitive, emotional and behavioural disturbances using the THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP.
The therapeutic relationship is well-documented as one of --if not, the most-- effective and powerful factor in determining the degree of healing in the client. Now there are many sub-factors that contribute to a therapeutic relationship, but basically the strength of connection a client and therapist develop is one of the best indicators of client improvement from therapy. The flip side of this is that an unethical or untrained therapeutic relationship can result in serious harm; the responsibility of maintaining a safe, ethical therapeutic relationship always falls on the therapist.
But is it yoga therapy?
No, it is not ‘yoga therapy’. Although I view my offering of yoga-informed psychotherapy and yoga therapy both in a positive light and respect that there are definitely some areas of overlap, they are different.
Scope of practice!
“Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga...Yoga therapy is founded on the basic principle that intelligent practice can positively influence the direction of change...implement a self-empowering therapeutic plan appropriate to the client's needs and oriented around prevention and health promotion.” (International Association of Yoga Therapists, 2016)
Yoga therapy is a fantastic option for clients to cultivate positive physical, emotional and spiritual change in their life. The main vehicle for change is the path of yoga/use of yogic practices to promote wellness.
Yoga-informed psychotherapy is also a wonderful option to cultivate positive physical, emotional and spiritual changes, with special attention and focus to the assessment and treatment of mental health issues/diagnoses. Yogic practices are incorporated, but they are secondary to the psychotherapist’s knowledge and use of the therapeutic relationship as the main vehicle for change.
As a professional, how I can I best help my clients within my scope of practice?
Know your own scope of practice. Only practice within the boundaries of what you are competent of providing
Clearly inform your clients of your scope of practice at the beginning of service (when you collect informed consent for their participation)
Be mindful of topics/areas that fall outside of your scope of practice and be comfortable with saying to your client “I’m not able to answer that...it falls outside of my scope”
Have a list of trusted professionals with differing scopes of practice, but similar values, to refer your clients to as necessary. A great professional will always be willing to refer and/or collaborate to best serve the client’s needs
Seek your own professional support as needed. As a caring individual in a helping/healing profession, your clients WILL have an impact on you. It is your responsibility to monitor and maintain your own emotional wellness to ensure the emotional safety of your clients
Thank you to each of you for sharing your unique offering of healing with our community.