VCPS BLOG - What is Sensory Medical Psychotherapy?

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Couch

Dr Siobhan Reddel is a Sensory Medical Psychotherapist at Victorian Counselling and Psychological Services (VCPS). So, what exactly does a Sensory Medical Therapist do? It is a combination of integrative general practice with cognitive and somatic psychotherapy. Dr Siobhan Reddel has discussed the idea of considering a Sensory Medical Psychotherapist as a ‘nervous-emotional system coach’: someone who combines monitoring medical signs and symptoms with what is said, what is not said, what emotions are being projected and the body’s small tracking movements in order to unpack the layers. Consequently, this helps clients get to the core of chronic or recurrent problems – which may or may not have a ‘medical’ or ‘mental health’ diagnosis – whilst building personal capacity to be more resilient to future challenges.

In the most recent Inside VCPS podcast, Episode 4, Dr Reddel introduces the concept of NESO or Nervous Emotional System Overwhelm states when discussing how she approaches clients and their problems. She prefers this term to the more classical ‘trauma’, because whether or not a person is chronically affected by an event is very much dependent on context. Hence, people can be highly ‘traumatised’ or in chronic NESO states from superficially small events happening at just the wrong time or triggering just the wrong memory. It is also possible to be traumatised (i.e. the Nervous Emotional System Overwhelm(ed)) by ‘positive’ events which would not be thought of ‘trauma’ either – think of children weeing their pants at parties, or Muriel playing her wedding video over and over again.

In regards to NESO, Siobhan outlined why it important to remember that the mind and the body are not separate entities. They are parts of an integrated system, or at least a system that is ideally integrated, but may not be at times and may need reintegrating. People with fractured psyches or mind-body disconnect are usually in a tortured existence, trying to supress unprocessed events and emotions at the expense of living a shadow of a life, either with unnecessary physical or emotional disability. Sensory Medical Psychotherapy provides to method for reconnecting the mind and the body in a way that can alleviate any chronic or recurrent symptoms.

At VCPS, we have a dedicated intake team to answer any questions you have about therapy. You can chat with our team in real-time online or give them a call on (03) 9419 7172. We would love to help you with your journey into therapy.

If you are interested in this subject, Siobhan recommends:

  • Brené Brown’s classic TED Talk on ‘The Power of Vulnerability.’ - Click here to view
  • A 2016 (Australian) ABC audio and transcript about using mind-body medicine to recover from a range of conditions, including autoimmune disease - Click here to view
  • Dr Peter Levine discussing Somatic Experiencing (a form of Somatic Psychotherapy that Siobhan has trained in) with the singer Alanis Morrisette - Click here to view

And the following two books on the science looking at the mind-body connection and its interaction with our health:

  • The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel van der Kolk
  • Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant

Practitioners we recommend:

View the related Inside VCPS podcast here:

Episode 4 - Sensory Medical Psychotherapy

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