Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
“NOTHING THAT FEELS BAD IS EVER THE LAST STEP”
Emotions are the gateway to the Authentic Self
Why are emotions so important?
“Emotional occasions . . . are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. The sudden and explosive ways in which love, jealousy, guilt, fear, remorse, or anger can seize upon one are known to everybody. Hope, happiness, security, resolve . . . can be equally explosive. And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them.” (James, 1902)
Riding the Wave and Mining for Gold
Core Emotions, (anger, sadness, fear, joy, excitement, sexual excitement and disgust) are like ocean waves. When fully experienced to completion, they naturally rise, peak and wane. Most freely expressed core emotions last just a few minutes. Some form of relaxation and relief typically follow.
Most emotions are rooted in the body.
The emotional brain is connected to all parts of the body via millions of motor and sensory neurons. This inseparable braiding of body and emotion explains why we feel a "lump in our throat", or a "pit in our stomach" with certain emotions such as sadness or fear.
Emotions inspire movement and change
Emotions propel us to do something-- to take action in order to satisfy our needs and wants. Anger can make us clench our fists, and joy might invite us to jump up and down. We can harvest the wisdom inherent within these impulses by tuning into our bodies during our affective experience. Even when the emotion is itself painful, as in the case of grief, honoring its adaptive action tendencies leads to a positive state. For example, what often results from the full adaptive expression of anger is a sense of power, strength, or assertiveness. If we ignore our emotional world, we lose access to this valuable inner compass.
Like waves, emotions also have energy, and this energy needs to be released.
If we block the expression of our core emotions, the energy doesn't disappear. Instead, it lingers, and can cause mental or physical stress.
Core emotions can be intense forces to reckon with, and may require regulation. One way to tolerate and move through our big emotional experience is to be in the presence of another regulated nervous system. Relational engagement--attuning to and being attuned by another-- is a powerful tool to co-regulate our nervous states, and undue aloneness.
AEDP, an approach based on neuroscience research, infuses what we've learned about attachment theory, emotions, transformational theory and infant-mother research. Trauma-informed, it privileges healing as well as insight. The goal of this work is to tend to the underlying causes of anxiety, depression, or other symptoms by unearthing the roots of these struggles. The underlying cause of our symptoms can often be traced back to buried emotions that could not be processed at the time due to unbearable aloneness and overwhelming feelings.
Illumination Counseling and Gayle Waitches offer AEDP-informed Individual and couple's therapy in Southeast Portland, Oregon.