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Brave Therapy™ is a blog site created by Andrea Szasz, a Psychotherapist and Counsellor living and practicing in Sydney, Australia.

Wishing Everyone a Safe, Peaceful and Rich in Connection New Year!

Somehow just wishing Happy New Year does not fit today. Our country is burning. The Earth is in distress, I think she might be outraged.
For many of us, loved ones; family  and animals are in danger of the fires. It is hard to celebrate. So to bring Joy to myself today,  I am choosing to practice  gratitude.
Today reflecting back at the last year, I am grateful for:
  • for my family, my amazing offsprings that I am lucky enough to host as a mother for this lifetime.
  • for my family, brothers and parents,  who are a lively bunch to share this lifetime with
  • for my partner, who is really the only one who can keep up with me and my crazy bunch 🙂
  • grateful for my friends,
  • grateful for all my family, nephews and nieces, and sister in-laws and some of my exes’ and their families.
  • and again grateful for my FRIENDS, really they are my family too
  • grateful for my parents still being healthy
  • grateful for my health, and my family’s health
  • grateful for being able to have the hard conversations
  • grateful for my job, my clients, that I can do what I love and passionate about, and weirdly cant really talk in details about to people :0)
  • I am lucky and grateful to do a research that I love
  • I am grateful for the privilege of education,
  • for the privilege of good food and water that I can still have
  • for a safe home
  • for my cats, and for other people’s cats
  • and for dogs of course 🙂
  • grateful for having an incredible woman, like a sister in my life who has been with me for almost a lifetime :0)
  • grateful for my mentor who is my family now too 🙂
  • grateful for my body for keeping up with me 🙂
  • grateful for the privilege to travel
  • GRATEFUL FOR BEING   ❤️  RIGHT HERE  ❤️   RIGHT NOW  ❤️  TODAY
Wow, interesting exercise, writing all this out I do feel much better, I might even get excited to celebrate.
Invite you to try, I hope it will work for you as it did for me.
Please stay safe.
Love to you all
Andi
Here is a little video from Brené to explain the science behind gratitude.
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How to BRAVE the Holiday Season

How to BRAVE the Holiday Season

 

The holiday season is the time of the year when there might be some extra relational demands of us. While the festive season is generally a happy time, the reflections and celebrations can also be challenging. There are expectations; from family members with whom we may share some difficult history, or perhaps the opposite – we may find that we don’t have enough people to share in our experience.

Below is a small list of skills I’ve put together for you on the occasions when you might find yourself overwhelmed. The exercises are adapted from Somatic Experiencing®, The Daring Way™ (Brené Brown’s work), and are also informed by the Polyvagal Theory.

Breathe. Wherever you are, this is the easiest option to start regulating your nervous system. Practice three counts in-breath (via the nose) and five counts out-breath (via the mouth), pushing the air out. Repeat this sequence three times and practice at least three times a day. This technique will help you to engage the calming part of your nervous system – the part we refer to as the parasympathetic nervous system.

Remember a recent day or time when you felt most like yourself. It could be a day when you had a good session at yoga, a superb coffee in bed, or that time you spent with people who you connect to. It can be anything really. As you remember, and recall the sense of being most like yourself, feel the sensory experience of that. You may have a sense of expansion into your chest, maybe you feel tall or a sense of spaciousness in your stomach. Stay with the experience and let it grow in your body. You can practice this for a couple minutes per day. This can be really useful in situations when other people’s thoughts and actions can get overwhelming, like a Christmas gathering 🙂

Awereness or orienting is a skill that you can also practice anywhere and anytime. When you reach a location, take a couple of minutes to arrive. Notice your feet, then if you are sitting down, notice the support that the seat provides. Slowly, gently moving your head, neck and eyes, look around. This seems very simple I know, but it helps your nervous system to relax by giving you chance to reduce any implicit triggers and to notice safety.

Values are the lights that help us to show up in difficult situations, as Brené Brown says. So, carrying our values inside our bodies when we show up to a difficult holiday gathering can make a difference. Choose a couple of your values; compassion, or gratitude or maybe integrity. Think of one of them and check in with your body – where do you notice this value? Is it in your heart or more in your stomach? Don’t mind if this does not make sense in a cognitive way, we are looking for sensory experiences here. Stay with the sensation of the value, see if a colour comes up, see if there is a shape that is appearing, and go on like that, finding all the sensory details that you can. You will see how good it feels noticing that this value that is so important to you already lives inside you, and it will support you in challenging situations.

Empathy is not an easy skill to practice in difficult relational situations. I still suggest to go with; ‘everyone is doing the best they can, with the tools they have in that moment’. If you find yourself in tricky situations where, for example, your aunt makes comments about your body at a NYE gathering, instead of getting really angry or hurt, think about why is that so important for her? Did she learn somewhere maybe that looking a little different can be dangerous? Was she bullied when she was your age because of how she looked? These are just ideas, but you get the drift. Go easy, go kind with yourself and with others. You can also gently tell this aunt that you feel fabulous in your skin and hopefully she does too.

 

Wishing you a safe, peaceful and fun Holiday Season.

Love from

Andi

Brave Therapy™

 

PDF to download the skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

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National Psychotherapy Day

For the national psychotherapy day I put together a little questionnaire to ask about experiences in therapy.
The themes that came up were not surprising to me. Most people who answered the questions were appreciating their therapy experiences. Naturally there would be a bias because most people who this questionnaire reached are interested in psychotherapy. I used Nvivo 12, a qualitative research tool to look at some of the themes, answering to the following questions:
1. Please tell me in a few sentences about your therapy experience.
The main theme was that therapy has been a life changing experience to most. Helping people to open up and feel more whole and having better relationships with themselves and others.  For some there has been some disappointing experiences with therapists who were not trustworthy. Most participants mentioned that the relationship with their therapist has been very important.
2. How did having therapy or counselling affected your life?
The main theme of this question is best described with a quote from one participant:
“Piece by piece, it has opened me up to a new lease of life and taken away the mental handcuffs of my old life”
Others felt that being in therapy has saved their life. One person found that therapy has been a slow process that has not changed their life significantly.
3. Did you ever wish that your parents had the chance or the willingness to engage in therapy or counselling? Please explain.
The general answer to this question was a YES!
“I do wish that they had both the willingness and the chance, because if they had that, then it would make my healing easier. Also, I think that outside of my experience, my parents are both very traumatised people whose lives have been reduced by their experiences in childhood. If they could engage in therapy, then their lives would be improved. I wish that for everyone, not just my parents, therapy is an incredibly useful tool for self realization”.

I really hope that psychotherapy becomes less stigmatised and more accessible to all people.
Love
Andi
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National Psychotherapy Day on the 25th of September

Dear Brave Therapy Friends, I am collecting stories of therapy or counselling experiences for the National Psychotherapy Day on the 25th of September. The survey is anonymous and I will use Nvivo 12, a qualitative data analysing software to comply the information into themes. I might use some quotes from the answers, without identifiable information. I would love you to consider answering my questions here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FJGH26V

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Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do. - Leonardo Di Vinci

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