Do you struggle with stress or sleeping difficulties? Have you decided to stop smoking or manage your diet to lose weight, but you just cannot bring yourself to really try? These difficulties might all seem different to each other and different to say, obsessive compulsive cleaning, or neatness, or someone struggling to recover from an accident or sports injury or even struggling from a chronic illness like firbromyalgia, arthritis or chronic fatigue. Medical treatment can do wonderful things to help people in physical and emotional/mental pain. What many people do not realise, is that a form of counseling called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, (abbreviated to CBT), is very helpful for managing emotional and mental difficulties, and for chronic physical pain. This is because CBT acknowledges the importance of how we think and how we think, can either help you recover from those conditions mentioned earlier, or contribute negatively. To put it simply, each thought creates a chemical reaction in the brain. The brain nerves then carry the necessary information through the nerves to the hormonal system in the body. The hormones and the nerves work together to get the body to react in certain ways. When we are more aware of how our thoughts, emotions and behavior influence physical and emotional pain, puts us in a better position to change it.
When we struggle with worry and stress, or with physical pain, it is often difficult to sustain feeling positive. We all naturally feel sorry for ourselves, especially when events occur that are out of our control, like sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents and loss of employment. A certain amount of these thoughts and feelings are healthy, but overtime, anxiety related negative thoughts, such as “I will never get better” or “I must be a real loser for this to happen to me” for example, add to a person’s existing difficulties by flooding the brain with more stress- related chemicals. So if you are suffering from a physical injury, and you are thinking very negatively, you are likely to suffer more physicaly pain and heal at a slower rate. Local resident Licia Karp is a Clinical Social Worker who came across CBT when she studied her Masters Degree in South Africa. “It was a revelation to me. Earlier in my studies, I really wanted to be a psychotherapist, which I saw as the most successful way of helping people. When I studied CBT, it became clear to me that it was a very practical, empowering way to work with people in emotional and physical pain, and seemed to get results far more quickly than psychotherapy. Not only that, but the whole person, their feelings, their beliefs and their behavior are seen as important on their road to recovery”.
From that moment on, thirty years ago, Licia began working with CBT, continually studying tools and techniques and learning from her clients. She has used this method with clients who were acutely, chronically and terminally ill. She also worked with a sports clinic, helping with people with physical injuries.“I thoroughly enjoyed working with physiotherapists and medical doctors who were open to realizing the importance of emotions, thoughts and psychology to enhance to persons’ recovery or assist them in a more peaceful dying process”.
“The exciting thing is being a part of the client’s healing. Once the client realizes that they have a choice over what they do with their own thoughts, and they begin to really practice that, they experience a sense of personal power that changes their lives forever.” Although different clients work at different paces, those that consistently practice the techniques, enjoy the benefits of taking charge of their own thoughts and recovery. They are then able to utilize the tools with less support from the therapist over time.
CBT works for people of all ages, and Licia has experience in working with children and adolescents and their families. “The sooner you learn CBT the better. So if you have been diagnosed recently with these conditions, taking charge of your thoughts now, and becoming practiced at it, will help you now and in the future.”
Licia (pictured below), who is currently studying for a PhD in the School of Psychology at NUIG, has consulting rooms in Kiltrogue outside Claregalway and is soon opening consulting rooms in Triskell in Salthill, Galway. For further information or to book an appointment; email liciakarp @gmail.com or call 0871410118. Her website is: www.paintraumaheal.com