The human mind is the most complex marvel that is responsible for all the mental phenomena. All of us would have witnessed episodes in our own lives where we decide to do something we are passionate about and we put in all the time and effort to accomplish it. It can be anything like learning a new language, learning to drive a car, learning to swim, losing weight, etc. We put all our thoughts and ideas and focus on achieving the end result.
At the same time, if there is a task and we are not up to it then our very own mind can be our biggest enemy too. And when this happens we may fail to live up to the best of our potential while trying to tread through various directions or approaches to life.
This is the juncture where we should understand the importance of balance. In other words, homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical and chemical conditions maintained by the living systems. In order to bring this state of balance, a strong sense of awareness is essential. And this can be attained through ‘Mindfulness’.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be simply defined as the practice of being attentive to the present moment – observing what is happening within and around you. This requires a constant conscious effort and the practice or observation of the experiences one is having. In other words, per the Cambridge dictionary, Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm.
Today, Mindfulness is even practiced as a form of meditation helping people focus on being aware of their senses and feelings in the present moment.
Hence bringing one’s focus and attention to the present and creating awareness of his/her thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment without any judgement is mindfulness. It means accepting one’s true self without indulging much in what the right and wrong thoughts or feelings are. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Can mindfulness be integrated with therapy?
Well, yes! When a client approaches a therapist they are usually undergoing emotional suffering and the job of a therapist is to alleviate that suffering. Also, the client mostly dwells either on the past experiences or is constantly worried about the future, and the said suffering surfaces as stress, anxiety, interpersonal conflict, depression, behavior problems, etc.
However, clients are always clear with the fact that by the end of their therapy all they want is to feel better. Sometimes, they may even have strategies laid out for achieving what they want to but are not able to maintain a balanced mental state.
So for a therapist, they must bring their client’s awareness to their thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Bring them to a state of acceptance, accept whatever is occurring in the present, and practice mindfulness. Therefore, while practicing mindfulness the client is so focused on the present and they slowly learn to detach from their past experiences and keep their future at bay for a while.
The key is being completely aware and present to what one is doing. However, the question is “is awareness enough”?
The SOFTSEA Coaching Framework
At ICHARS we follow an eclectic approach to psychotherapy. An eclectic approach is based on seamless integration of different approaches to psychotherapy like cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, and psycho-dynamic with transformational techniques from Clinical Hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Mindfulness and Meditation, and Metaphors and Stories. An eclectic approach works on all components of a problem be it behaviors, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, values, defense mechanisms, secondary gain, traumas, and repressed memories.
The cognitive hypnotic psychotherapy course offered by ICHARS is based on the SOFTSEA framework. This framework has a lot of mindfulness inbuilt as a part of it. This process encompasses delayering as a fundamental part. Each layer helps the client gain immense clarity. For example, we begin by helping the client become aware of how they understand the problem and how they verbalize it.
The second step would then be to help clients be mindful of the kind of future they are wanting to create for themselves. This future is visualized not just in abstract terms but more in concrete terms, meaning, in terms of observable indicators that they are wanting to see as a part of their outcome or what they are aiming at.
This eventually helps the client become mindful of all the thoughts that are stopping the client from taking action in the present. Now, as a part of the therapy, these thoughts are worked upon and restructured.
The above delayering also helps the client become aware or mindful of some of the unconscious elements like automatic thoughts, beliefs, and past experiences which are preventing the client from being able to put his or her best foot forward. These unconscious elements thereafter, act as triggers leading to unwanted behavior. There are different processes in the Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching and Psychotherapy framework which the coaches and the therapists can use to help clients become aware or become mindful of each of these elements or factors.
Names of some of the techniques from the Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching and Psychotherapy module that the coaches and the therapists can use as a part of their practice to help their clients include SOFTSEA coaching framework. As described earlier, this process helps in delayering and helping the client gain clarity of the current situation as well as their desired outcome. Subsequently helping the clients create an exhaustive task list to achieve their desired outcome.
Awareness/Mindfulness is not equal to change?
Having worked with clients for years, the team at ICHARS also recognizes that while mindfulness and awareness are very important, they are not always equal to change. There are additional steps that one may need to be able to create changes in what one has become aware of. And so our courses incorporate processes that will help you help your clients take the next step after mindfulness.
When-then statement is an example of one such process. It is a that begins with helping clients become mindful of their ongoing thoughts and then replace them with new positive thoughts.
SWISH is another such process that helps people change those aspects of their life where they are facing trouble. Understand what images are playing in their mind concerning those bothering behaviors or beliefs and help them recreate and replace them with an empowering representation. There are many other such belief awareness and change processes that work as effective tools in bringing about the desired change.
When clients are looking at transforming an overall area of their life an effective diagnostic and transformational tool called the ‘Levels of Transformation’ can be used. Levels of Transformation is a process that will help people become aware of the various levels in their circle of life. Beginning from their current environment, behaviors, skills, beliefs, and identities that they are holding on to which are stopping them from creating their desired change.
Reframing is a process that helps people bring about a change in their behaviors. This process helps people become mindful of the positive intention behind their current behavior and thereafter helps them identify and apply an alternate behavior that would help them get closer to their outcome.
Coaches and therapists can use representation systems and accessing systems to help their clients become mindful of how their mind is accessing and processing information.
The meta-model is a powerful questioning model which elicits specific answers and will help people think deeper and explore what is the challenge they are facing in the now.
Therapists can also use delayering processes like the Emotional Empowerment Technique (EET) or the Self Validation and Integration Technique (SVIT) to help clients be aware or mindful of the core issues that they have.
A core state is a state where one feels invincible. The Core State process is to identify and become aware or mindful of the core strength of the client. Being mindful of the core state shall help the client address the core issue and thereafter smoothen the transformation process.
These are just some of the techniques, there is a lot more which you will learn as a part of the program that will help you as a therapist develop mindfulness and that will help you help your clients become more mindful about important components of therapy and coaching.
Most of the above-mentioned processes except EET and SVIT are a part of our Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching Diploma. If you are a coach or one exploring a career as a coach, you must check out the details about the diploma program.
If you are a psychologist and are looking at helping clients develop mindfulness and apply the same to overcome not just day-to-day challenges but also intense negative emotions and trauma, you would love the Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy Diploma.