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Art Psychotherapy

Artistic creation can be used in tandem with a number of different styles of psychotherapy to encourage people to express themselves and to explore their feelings and contradictions.  The creation of a work of art is used to promote discussion about how the artist feels about themselves and how the world reacts to them.


The particular creative media used is not usually that important, although a particular therapist might feel that a certain patient can express themselves better through, say poetry rather than sculpture.  It is then usually easier for someone to talk about what that piece of art is supposed to be saying, rather than to say it themselves.  In a similar way, if somebody comments on the work of art, is not taken quite so personally, as if someone comments on the person's behaviour or attitudes directly.


Art therapy is commonly practised within the NHS in a psychiatric setting.  Art therapy is also available to the general public, on the NHS, via your general practitioner, although this depends on the particular NHS trust in control.


Many private psychotherapists also use art therapy as part of their practice


Autogenic Training

Autogenic training is a reliable method of stress relief, which can be practised by an individual without the need of a doctor or therapist.  It was introduced into Britain in the 1970s, but invented by Dr Johanna Schultz, a German psychiatrist and neurologist in Berlin in the 1920s.


Dr Schultz noticed the people who are undergoing hypnotism were regularly able to switch off the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that increases heart rate increases blood pressure, and ultimately leads to stress. This was also accompanied by feelings of warmth, heaviness and relaxation.


The aim of autogenic training is to reverse the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which usually acts unconsciously, by consciously directing the mind to switch on the para-sympathetic nervous system.  Typically, this would mean finding a comfortable position, either seated or lying down and telling the body to feel warm and relaxed and heavy.  This can be begun by more strenuous efforts such as stretching, yawning or even beating a cushion.  A common and reliable exercise is to attempt to contract, every muscle in the body for a period of five to ten seconds and then to will all the muscles in the body to relax.


Autogenic training has been shown to be very effective in decreasing many stress-related symptoms.  It can be used for irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, palpitations, tension headaches and insomnia.


Autogenic training is a reliable method of stress relief, which can be practised by an individual without the need of a doctor or therapist.  It was introduced into Britain in the 1970s, but invented by Dr Johanna Schultz, a German psychiatrist and neurologist in Berlin in the 1920s.


Dr Schultz noticed the people who are undergoing hypnotism were regularly able to switch off the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that increases heart rate increases blood pressure, and ultimately leads to stress. This was also accompanied by feelings of warmth, heaviness and relaxation.


The aim of autogenic training is to reverse the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which usually acts unconsciously, by consciously directing the mind to switch on the para-sympathetic nervous system.  Typically, this would mean finding a comfortable position, either seated or lying down and telling the body to feel warm and relaxed and heavy.  This can be begun by more strenuous efforts such as stretching, yawning or even beating a cushion.  A common and reliable exercise is to attempt to contract, every muscle in the body for a period of five to ten seconds and then to will all the muscles in the body to relax.


Autogenic training has been shown to be very effective in decreasing many stress-related symptoms.  It can be used for irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, palpitations, tension headaches and insomnia.


Ayurvedic medicine

Ayurvedic medicine is common in all areas of Asia, and in Asian communities throughout the world.  It became popular in the west in the mid-1970s. This traditional medicine is still used by doctors in India and Sri Lanka as the most common form of treatment. The ‘Chakra Samhita’, a text first written down in about 2500 BC, describes how the body is made up of cells and how microorganisms spread disease.  The ‘Susrutha Samhita’ describes surgical techniques and equipment, and also describes ways of keeping wounds aseptic still used in surgery today.  Their descriptions of bodily function and disease were thousands of years ahead of Western understanding. The term Ayurvedic is composed of two Sanskrit words meaning ‘The science of life’ and was probably first developed 5000 years ago.


Ayurvedic medicine is a very complex system of health care, which describes ailments and cures not only on the physical level, but also on the mental, spiritual and emotional.  The philosophy behind Ayurveda is that we exist as beings within the universe, sharing our life energy with all of existence. The way to health is to balance this life energy so that diseases never occur.  If they do, then Ayurvedic medicine has treatments for the whole person, in order to bring them back into balance.


Ayurvedic medicine is an holistic medicine, which treats the person as an individual.  Even though the symptoms might be the same as another persons, their individual makeup prescribes a particular treatment, a practitioner will talk to the person and find out exactly what is making them unbalanced.


An Ayurvedic practitioner may draw upon knowledge of meditation, herbal medicine, astrology, yoga and diet. In many ways it is similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine the life force is known as ‘prana’ the equivalent of the Chinese Chi.  Therefore, like Chinese medicine it attempts to balance the three vital energies in the body termed the three Doshas, which are vatha, pitha and kaptha. Each person has a dominant energy, and if any one of these energies becomes unbalanced it throws the other two out.  Pitha relates to fire and water and controls the metabolism such as digestion. Kaptha is related to earth and water and is related to the secretions from the mucous membranes, lymphatic fluid, phlegm, fluids and fatty tissues. Vatha is the body's energy system and its driving force. This stimulates the nervous system and controls the rate at which other bodily functions are carried out. These three energies are kept in balance by our food intake, the amount of exercise we have and the elimination of waste substances, plus of course, a healthy spiritual and emotional life.  The idea is that when we are born we are perfectly in balance, but then life takes its toll upon us, and each event, whether physical or emotional knocks these energies out of balance. An Ayurvedic practitioner is trying to restore the original balance by adjusting our lifestyle and diet by administering herbs, and also by detoxification.