And what you can do about them
Most people don’t realise we have two emotional processing systems. The first 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. 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.
That’s huge isn’t it. The thing is this knowledge has been around a long time and as my old psychology text book puts it… ‘researchers from multiple perspectives are increasingly converging on the same view ‘.
But 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. And the simple reason 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.
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.
So 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.
(BMedSc) – P.S.H. Therapist
To learn more about P.S.H. therapy please visit psh.org.au or Belinda’s website belindahawkins.com.au. Or make an appointment with Belinda either by phone on 6299 5183 or online.