But Is It Yoga Therapy?

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?  

Great question!

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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.  

 

Why?

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.

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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.

 

With gratitude,

Diane

Reframing New Year's Resolutions

In our achievement-oriented society, we often confuse goals, resolutions, and intentions. A goal is attached to a desired result; it is measurable and dependent on an outcome. A resolution is a a formal expression of a commitment. Our goals and resolutions are set in part by our constant self-scrutiny—our expectations that we may have of ourselves or those we may believe others expect of us. Both goals and resolutions imply that there is something about us that needs to be resolved or fixed. While I’m not trying to start the new year off on a negative note, the reality is that most New Year's resolutions go unfulfilled past January—yet we continue to make them year after year. There is a disconnect here between our desires and actions, a disconnect that is never helpful for our self-esteem.

Speaking as a psychotherapist, it is readily apparent to me (although sometimes less so when I am assessing myself) that we struggle with setting realistic expectations for ourselves. To put it bluntly, the combination of the pressures of our aforementioned achievement-oriented society with our difficulty accessing self-compassion is a recipe for failure. The language with which we frame our resolutions tends to be judgement- and result-focused; it lacks the positive, encouraging self-talk that promotes acknowledgement and celebration of the process towards a result. But what if we applied the concepts of authenticity and congruence of language to help create our New Year’s ‘insert-better-word-here’ so we could feel better about ourselves? Instead of busting our butts to fit into a disconnected resolution, what if we reframe the way that we conceptualize our New Year’s resolutions? In other words, what if we say what we mean and mean what we say? A resolution revolution!

We often reference 'intention' during yoga practice. Both ‘resolution’ and ‘intention’ have similar meanings, but why is it that the latter often feels “softer” and more accessible? I like to think of an intention as a heartfelt desire, something birthed in my heart’s centre, and thus, something truly authentic. I also prefer to differentiate between “setting an intention”, “manifesting an intention”, and “cultivating an intention”.

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  • Setting an intention is similar to making a resolution: “happiness is on the horizon.”
  • Manifesting an intention uses the Law of Attraction to reframe your desires as reality: “I am happy and therefore attract happiness
  • Cultivating an intention is about process and closely tied to motivation: thinking of happiness as a daily practice or verb.

All three have purpose and benefit as it’s hard to go wrong with accessing your heartfelt desires.

By ensuring that your self-talk and the language you use to set, manifest, or cultivate your intentions is realistic, authentic, and positive, you may surprise yourself to see your motivation continue past January.  Why? Plain and simple: it feels good to speak nicely about yourself, and as human beings, we are motivated by what feels good. It’s a personal preference what type of intention you may choose for yourself in the coming days and months ahead and what process you use to realize it. I personally find most value and warmth in cultivating intention—and I will be welcoming the new year as such!

 

Sending love,

Diane

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