Engaging the Senses for Symptom Relief!
By Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
What is more important, gaining insight about symptoms or reducing symptoms? Some people come to therapy with some ideas about what is wrong, how it came to be and wanting to learn more about themselves and how to improve the way they feel and live. This is a great! Others come to therapy with some unpleasant something in their life and they want it to go away. This is great also.
Typically, when children are brought to therapy, it is because they have an unpleasant behavior that needs to be changed or emotions that the parent is concerned about. Generally, children “act in,” which looks like depression, sadness, lazy, not trying, not developing naturally to the next stage, or they “act out,” which looks like a wide array of behavior problems.
If you or someone you love is having symptoms that feel or play out as unwanted, it can be very helpful and even many times eliminate the need for therapy and medication if you get creative with engaging the senses.
Doing too much, engaging too many senses with too many new experiences can be both confusing to the person and their internal symptom. It can also make it difficult to determine what really works.
When you start engaging the senses, start slow and try to be organized.
Here are some suggestions based on very common issues that present in my office;
(Hearing) Sibling conflict in the car – Sometimes, the child who has the most difficulty in the car is a child who is very sensitive to certain stimulations, such as another person talking near their ear when they are in a closed space such as a car. Maybe more than one person is talking at a time, the radio is playing and the business of the movement from driving proves to be an overload on their system. This child could try using headphones, but it is best to choose a particular genre of music and reserve that music just for car rides. Over time and with willingness on the part of the child to open themselves up to a solution, they can reprogram their inner senses for a calm ride in the car even though they have not been able to change the other factors in the car. For this purpose, I would recommend full ear headphones rather than ear buds.
(Smell) Difficulty falling asleep – Besides following the general guidelines for sleep hygiene, children and adults can benefit from an aroma, such as a lavender spray or other pleasant scents floating through the air. Particularly, the “white noise” of a diffuser and a favorite calming essential oil may settle one’s inner senses right off to sleep. It is all too common now for children (and adults) to be falling asleep with the TV on in their room. I could devote an entire blog post to this topic, but for now, just to say, it’s a terrible plan.
(Vision) Dinner table issues – Trouble with picky eaters, conflict at the dinner table…resorted to not coming to the table? It’s true, I know a lot of families that don’t even set the table. People take their plate and go to the living room or even their bedroom. Talk about disconnected relationships. Countless bonds get sealed, ideas get hatched and problems get solved at a positively functioning dinner table. Set the table, arrange the carrot sticks creatively, light candles and play soft music of everyone’s liking (we love Quiet Village on Net Radio, or the Hawaiian station on Pandora). Pick music that doesn’t play to the modern culture, but that makes everyone feel good. Besides the music, the main sense here is vision. Make things look inviting. The candle is manly visual, but it also taps into senses that I believe aren’t clearly identified.
(Touch) Pain or illness – Babies like Minky Fabric for a reason (and so do adults)! It feels so nice. Sew a pillow case from minky, simply cut a large square of minky, or better yet, buy a handmade minky product from Eliza Bees Baby Gear!
(Taste) Unpleasant Emotions – So often we reach for sweets and salts to change our feelings. Try reprogramming your taste buds to desire natural tastes. Maybe a new routine of something you like and that is good for you can help to refocus your attention. If you are a smoker or like your glass of wine after the kids go to bed, try choosing something else, like a low sugar sorbet or a crunchy Wasa crispbread, or even some almonds or raisins. Eat them slowly and really explore the taste of each small bite.
Essential Oils – Working with essential oils can engage many senses at once but also not be overwhelming to your system. Truly pure essential oils * can be diffused into the air, smelled right from the bottle, sprayed on linens, applied topically and even taken orally.
*Essential oil safety
To sign up for a FREE class on essential oils, click the oils below.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
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