Resources are significant to us to be able to live well
Resources help you participate in life to reach your full potential.
Resources enable a client to participate in life using their full potential. Resources are anything that enhances the quality of our lives and relieves us from difficult circumstances, writes Pat Ogden (Ogden, P., Minton, K. & Pain, A.).
How can resources help?
Resources increases our capacity to digest and understand difficult thoughts, emotions or body sensations we may be having. As intrusive material is resolved our ability to function well in our daily life improves.
Where are resources found?
Resources can be found externally in our environment or internally within us. Resources come in many forms as we pay attention to how they contribute positively to our lives.
How do we find our resources?
We may notice our resources when we become grateful for having a strong spiritual practice, a broad social network, have an ability to gather and intellectually understand information, enjoy creative outlets via music, dance, art, wood or metal work, sports, travel and nature. You may think of other examples of resources as the list is abundant.
Another example of a resource is your much loved pet. People often draw strength and a sense of safety from their pets, particularly dogs or cats. Their attachment to their pets are a fantastic resource often remembered in times of stress.
Resources used in therapy bring successful therapeutic outcomes
Sometimes people commence therapy with a habitual stance of primarily focusing on anything negative, and forget that they have resources. An important goal of therapy is inviting a person to let in and sense positive images, thoughts, emotions or body sensations through their five senses.
How we work with resources in therapy
Once they can remember a positive memory such as being in a safe space this needs to be felt in the body. This involves strengthening their memory of the image of them being in their safe place. The resource is thereby identified, noted and deepened.
A person may recall the smells and sounds that were present at the time of being in their safe place, and their feelings and thoughts about it come alive increasing their awareness of their resource.
Benefits of embodying resources
The client may experience greater ease and freedom in moving while they remember their safe place. This then results in them feeling within their body a sense of embodiment of feeling safe.
The person’s safe place becomes a resource to be used when they feel triggered by cues that feel threatening. This resource can restore their feelings of safety. The body felt sense of safety may feel like a deeper breath, you could sit or stand taller, you experience the feeling of pleasure or confidence, you feel lighter, a softening of the body muscles happens, warmth in the skin colour is present, and the absence of thinking and needing to be hypervigilant can occur.
A therapist supports you to embody your resource
Here the therapist helps the client to still frame and highlight their resource of feeling safe by saying, ‘this seems like a really important moment.’ In slowing the client down to savour their feelings associated with feeling safe, the client turns a positive memory into a resource. The therapist helps a person feel safe in the future, and to be able to work with a distressing traumatic memory.
Resources used to work with a trauma memory
It is useful for a person to have a safe place they can go to as a memory to be able to exercise a sense of choice about how they approach or step back from a traumatic memory.
Sensorimotor founder Pat Ogden suggests that when we work with a client as they remember a specific event, we help them track their experience before, during, and after the event.
A client working with a small piece of a traumatic memory is helped by the therapist to lift out their resource, which they used to survive the trauma. An example of this is when a person remembers feeling helpless at the time of the trauma and they notice a shift in their mood as they remember that they were able to call for help from a neighbour and access medical treatment.
Resources enable us to feel self-empowered
A client often discovers their empowering skill used to overcome the trauma while they are integrating the trauma memory. Ogden says the client then learns to associate the trauma with a positive experience of being triumphant in overcoming the trauma (Ogden, P., Pain, C., & Minton, K.).
Our confidence grows when we have a cognitive and felt sense understanding of how we survived a difficult event. Remembering one positive event can lead us to remember other memories where we have felt similar feelings of self-mastery.
Identify & acknowledge your resources
In recognising and acknowledging our existing skills and abilities we feel more calm and confident in facing life struggles. When we uncover our strengths or resources we identify what enables us to competently master our life circumstances.
Be familiar with your resources
Uncovering our resources enables us to become familiar with what our resources or strengths are and we can apply them when needed. This can be the ability to stand up for ourselves, to ask for help, to avoid conflict, to cognitively understand factual information, to soothe and calm ourselves or to appear strong in the face of danger, and to be able to move to safety.
1. Trauma & the body. Ogden, P., Minton, K., Pain, C. 2006.
2. Sensorimotor psychotherapy. Ogden, P., Fisher, J. 2015.