Transforming Adversity into Learning and Growth published in Therapy Today

Transforming Adversity into Learning and Growth published in Therapy Today

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy published “Transforming Adversity into Learning and Growth” in the December 2019 issue of Therapy Today. A concise overview of Linda’s teachings on resilience in one easy-to-read package, accessible to lay readers as well as clinicians. An excerpt below.

Linda will be presenting much of the same overview in the NScience webinar for clinicians from London, UK on January 29, 2020: The Neuroscience of Therapeutic Attachment: How Our Clients Recover their Inner Sense of Resilience and Well-Being through Conscious Compassionate Connection.


Any time you move your body and shift your posture you shift your physiology.  Any time you shift your physiology you shift the activity of your autonomic nervous system and its state of excitement-stress or calm or shut down-collapse. Clients can intentionally use movement to shift their emotions and their mood. An example from my own clinical practice:

My client Marian was an educational psychologist, acting as a consultant to parents who needed to place their dual-diagnosis son or daughter in a residential treatment facility. Though very competent and successful, Marian experienced severe anxiety and a fair amount of self-doubt and shame whenever she first met the parents.  Would she be good enough? Would they find her adequate and trustworthy? 

We began practicing a form of power posing, based on Amy Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School.  Marian would stand in her own office before entering the waiting room to meet the parents.  She practiced standing tall, proud, strong, pulling the energy up from her feet planted firmly on the floor, up through her torso, up through her spine and neck so that she stood tall, erect and empowered.

Marian had so much success with that experiment in using movement to shift her emotional state, we started beginning the practice with her feeling the anxiety in her body, embodying the self-doubt, and then shifting into that posture of strength and confidence.  The shifting all the way through from negative to positive was even more effective in shifting Marian’s emotional state. Marian noticed that over time, she hardly felt the anxiety and self-doubt anymore at all. She could embody the strength and confidence the moment she needed to.

Power posing helps clients access an inner body-based sense of strength and confidence. Shifting from an embodied negative state (anxiety, shame) to a more positive embodied state helps clients learn they can use movement of their body to shift their internal state, turning a dreaded situation into learning and growth.

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