Better understanding difficult emotions & what you can do about them
Most people don’t realise we have two emotional processing systems
You may be surprised to realise if you’re experiencing difficult thoughts, feelings or behaviours that are not responding to conscious level therapies – perhaps the path back to mental and emotional health is in giving yourself the opportunity to resolve these issues at the subconscious level. P.S.H. therapy is specifically designed to help you do just that.
The first part of emotional processing is a subconscious automatic response that occurs outside of conscious level awareness. For example, when a threat is perceived, a defence response occurs in the emotional part of our brain to protect us.
The second emotional processing occurs at almost (but not quite) simultaneously, other parts of the brain swing into action and send a message up to the conscious level that something has occurred which we register as a feeling.
It is important to understand that these are two separate systems.
It is also important to understand that while the subconscious response always occurs, the conscious response may not.
In other words, we can experience an emotional response outside our conscious awareness which can influence our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and even health without us knowing anything about it. Researchers from multiple perspectives are increasingly converging on the same view.
So, has this knowledge been taken up by mainstream approaches to emotional and mental health? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Which is why people can be in therapy for years but still feel the same way.
Most psychological techniques and mainstream approaches to emotional and mental health do not address these subconscious emotional pathways and responses. The simple reason being is they don’t know how. It’s not part of their training. They are more geared to helping you manage the symptoms, and they can teach you some great management tools, but they do not address the original emotional response at the subconscious level, that set the feeling up in the first place.
In addition, because of the way these two separate systems are linked neurologically, the cognitive approach is very limited in its ability to influence the workings of the emotional brain.
But as neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux says, ‘because there are both conscious and unconscious processes at work when anxiety (or any other negative emotion – my addition) spirals out of control… effective treatments would have to engage differently on each level — the whirling subliminal, automatic circuitry that patients aren’t even aware of needs to be subdued before the second-step project of addressing the higher level of conscious thoughts and feelings can begin.’
And that’s the science of it.
Information Reproduced by kind permission from the writer, Belinda Hawkins, P.S.H. therapist – Canberra, Australia.
By Sara Sullivan – P.S.H. Therapist, Clear Minds Natural Therapy – Qualified & Registered with A.S.TA. visit www.psh.org.au