Individual Counseling Talks Human Superpower: Interoception
Utilize individual counseling to ‘Take Charge’ of your mental healing with the help of your own human superpower – interoception! Have you ever felt your stomach growl? Your head start pounding? Your heart racing? Your palms get sweaty? Your eyes get heavy? If so, do you know how you are able to feel these things? Many people notice these feelings in their body with the help of an important sense, a sense called interoception. Interoception has a huge influence on many areas of our lives like self-regulation, mental health, and social connection. Terri Dichiser at Take Charge Inc can help you with individual counseling sessions to gain back your mental health.
Interoception: Feeling the Feels
Interoception by definition is “the process by which the nervous system senses, interprets, and integrates signals originating from within the body, providing a moment-by-moment mapping of the body’s internal landscape across conscious and unconscious levels” This continuous feedback loop of incoming and outgoing information between the brain and body has also been called our “sixth sense.” The brain’s capacity to register, interpret, and integrate bodily signals is undoubtedly substantial for our well-being. We can use these processes when dealing with mental health in individual counseling. Psychologist Jennifer MacCormack states “The brain and body are deeply interconnected. I think of them as equal co-partners, or as one organism that is managing and processing different aspects of data from the environment both internal and external. We often think in terms of dualities: emotion versus cognition, body versus mind, and peripheral versus central nervous system. While these divisions are useful in daily conversation and philosophical debates, we should be careful not to overlook how deeply intertwined these processes may actually be.” So how exactly does interoception do its very important job?
This sense is hard at work all the time, monitoring your entire body—body pieces like your heart, lungs, stomach, bladder, muscles, skin, and even your eyeballs—and collecting data about how these body parts feel. For example, interoception collects information which helps your brain identify how your stomach feels: does it feel empty, full, gassy, nauseous or something else? Your brain then uses this information about the way your body feels as clues to your current emotion: are you hungry, nervous, tired, sick, excited? At the most basic level of understanding, interoception can be defined as the sense that allows us to answer the question, “How do I Feel?” in any moment.
An Inaccurate Interoception Experience
Now, what would happen if your inner interoception experience was unclear or confusing? What if you were incapable of feeling what was happening in your body? What if you noticed feelings on the inside of your body but had no idea what these feelings meant? Or what if your internal sensations were so overwhelming that your body felt or feels unsafe on a daily basis? Sadly, this is the case for many people. People with conditions or diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, trauma disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, toilet training difficulties, sensory processing disorder and behavioral challenges have been found to have interoception complications. Given the fact that many of us live in a society that does not put any emphasis on the importance of your body and listening to the messages it sends – many people that don’t deal with a specific condition or diagnoses can have interoception difficulties as well. Our sensory processing is informed by how our brain is wired and our nervous systems – so, the way our body interacts with the brain and how we sense things. Many neurodivergent people have differences from neurotypical people in the way sensory information is interpreted by the body and brain. This can be very important for individual counseling sessions, so counselors have a basis or a starting point to go from.
Interoception has been studied great and wide for decades but is only now making its way into practical use, meaning interoception is still poorly understood – including by many doctors and occupational therapists – so make sure you talk to someone with specialized experience when looking into care. Thankfully however, this information is quickly improving our ability to understand dysregulation in the mental health capacity a little bit better which in turn is driving more effective supports that honor each person’s inner experience. Research states that interoception can be improved with time. It is really meaningful to help people discover and understand their own unique body signals and emotions. Here is a link for a YouTube video that will be worth a watch to further understand how interoception is linked with mental health and utilized in individual counseling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGnt7L8KVXY.
Interoception is a human superpower that should be recognized more within society and is a great learning tool when dealing with mental health situations during individual counseling. With each of my clients, I provide a safe, comfortable environment that allows you to put your thoughts and feeling into words, without fear of criticism or judgment. For more information about trauma informed therapy and individual counseling, please contact Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255.
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