M.O.T.T – Camilla Ghazala

Senior Therapist – Coach – Trainer – Speaker

Terminology

You may notice throughout my website, that I avoid using words that I feel are saturated in this profession.

'Stress'

Umbrella term meaning the range of physical symptoms, cognitions, emotions and behaviour that are present as our sympathetic nervous system is mobilising.

As we move onto our Sympathetic road, this can be fun and exciting. We may feel light, bubbly, fizzy, revved up ready to go, sexually energised. At this stage we still have a foot firmly in Ventral.
 
As we travel further along our Sympathetic road, we are moving into our Flight/Fight style. We are alert and ready to act. Our body is beginning to make necessary changes, and our behaviour may show this in many ways.
 
When we are in medium mobilisation range, we may have elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, pale colour, increased heat or cold. We may be feeling anxious or irritated. Our contact with others is reducing or limited, our frontal cortex is usually accessible.
 
By the time we’re in full on Sympathetic mobilisation, our symptoms are increased and we are in ‘React to Danger’ mode. Our contact with others is reducing or limited, our frontal cortex may or may not be accessible. We can become aggressive, argumentative and damage ourselves, others, relationships, property or nature.

'Depression'

Umbrella term meaning the range of physical symptoms, cognitions, emotions and behaviour that are present as our Dorsal nervous system is mobilising.

As we move onto the Dorsal road, we can withdraw a little and feel like we just need to take a break from life and the world, part of us may be wounded and our wound needs tending to. At this stage, we still have a foot in Ventral.
 
As we move further along our Dorsal road, we can become, or part of us can become disconnected and isolated, and we become physically retracted and psychological introspective. Our emotions can be powerful or overwhelming.
 
When we are fully along our Dorsal road, we can become frozen and may move into crisis, and for some the experience of not wanting to be here becomes more powerful. At this stage, though ideally well before, we need consistent encouraging support from others who are grounded and firmly in Ventral themselves, we need to connect to others and things that are external to us so we are resourced. It’s also essential we access professional support; that includes seeing our GP. 

'Trauma'

Umbrella term explaining our body’s intelligent response when we and our system had become overwhelmed, sometimes through totally hideous, and /or life-threatening experience(s).

Our nervous system responds in a style that gives us the best chance of survival; fully activating our Sympathetic or Dorsal systems (often a blend of both). This is the wisdom and intelligence of our body and our phenomenal human determination to survive.

Our physiology overtime becomes our psychology, our whole system (body and mind) is tuned to react in certain styles as we seek to feel safe. This may present as random reactions, or reactions when our mind/senses/body detect something similar to the original experience(s). This is often referred to as being ‘triggered’.

Our intelligent system is always working to protect us. The relationship we develop enables appreciation and understanding of your body’s wisdom. Wounds can be gently and effectively tended to, and we can develop a wider frame.

This means our reactions fit the circumstances and we can become neutral or warmer towards ourselves, others, day to day experiences and our lives. Clients I work with often call this their ‘transformation’ – they are no longer bound to the past and can live in the present which is a very enriching experience.

Sometimes experiences that come our way, and set this chain reaction in motion, would not activate others. This is why it is imperative therapy is individually tailored to you.

'Our Nervous System'

* 2018 Deb Dana from The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton

'Mental Health'

A common umbrella term, that is often used to explain psychological and emotional challenges or difficulties. This is the first confusion because the term health means we are present, energised, grounded whilst working with our day to day lives.

I do not use the word ‘mental’ for a variety of reasons. I use the words ‘psychological and emotional’ as this is what we are referring to. I encourage clients to update their language, so they begin to construct cognitively and emotionally an “encouraging, buoyant, taking control of their health” style.

For us humans to be psychological and emotionally healthy, we are attending to the fundamental building blocks of our all-round wellbeing that include:

  • Our self-care which includes everything from how we eat and hydrate ourselves, to how we make sense of ourselves and life, how we find purpose and belonging, how we contribute, ultimately how we connect to ourselves, others, our lives, and our bigger picture.   
  • Our discernment and skills in developing encouraging and nurturing relationships, our ability to connect and work collaboratively with ourselves and others. 
  • Our capacity to navigate life’s pleasures, the mundane and challenges in whatever form them come. Navigation includes feeling our natural (human) range of emotions: happy, anxious, sad, angry, disgust.
  • How to distinguish the difference between life pain which is inescapable, and suffering which we create ourselves. How we work alongside natural life pain, and how we develop ourselves personally (cognitively and emotionally) to reduce or cease the suffering we cause inside and out.
 

Explained in nervous system language, when we are psychologically and emotionally ok we are predominantly in Ventral Vagas mode. We have neurological flexibility to navigate our day to day lives, be they simple, highly pressurised or a mix of both.

Our psychological and emotional health is inextricably linked to our physical health (and visa versa) as we have an incredible holistic intelligence system that gives us information; unfortunately, we often ignore our wisdom be it from our body, gut, heart or mind.

One common example of this is if our gut health is undernourished and dehydrated our feelings and mind will pattern match and provide a range of symptoms. Our feelings and mind are providing information that our gut requires attention. 

In a nutshell our Mental Health is about us engaging in a lifestyle that, most of the time, supports and nurtures our mind, heart, and spirit. In the same way the term ‘physical health’ is talking about us engaging in a lifestyle that, most of the time, supports and nurtures our physical body. When we have consistent struggles with our engagement in either of these, it’s a really wise idea to seek appropriate help. 

Social Construct Model and The Medical Model: similarities and differences

Both have the same passion, dedication, and focus: to reduce, manage or remove the issue.

Medical professionals use the Bio Medical reductionist model; the clinician is seen as main resolver, the patient has a secondary responsibility for their improvements. The clinician diagnoses the ‘issue’ and clarifies an intervention (medication, exercise, changes to diet) to manage, reduce or resolve the issue.

Eg: If a client has a skin issue, the clinical may diagnose this as eczema and prescribed a topical intervention like a cream.

Safe developmental professionals use recognised Biopsychosocial models, the clinician and the client develop a collaborative relationship and both have their own responsibilities for the process and outcomes. The range of models have similarities in that they take a broad view, work alongside the presenting symptoms, and compassionately tease out elements so we can identify the internal cause and work on this level, as this is the primary driver.

Eg: If a client has eczema, we would be working on the patterns that activate the stress response which creates agitation, heat and irritability being presented by the skin. There may also be food irritations / dehydration that are part of this presentation.

Sometimes it’s helpful to combine the Developmental Model and The Medical Model.