Angela Grey is a writer with paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. She has created memorable moving tales about the sometimes unexpected and challenging road to first love: Secret Whispers(a story about schizophrenia), Déjà vu(a tale about a teen with bipolar disorder), and Of Laughter & Heartbreak(a piece about obsessive-compulsive disorder).
I’ve been receiving psychotherapy since I was twelve plus in and out of group therapy from the age of fifteen. So why is it now that I’m being prompted to add other psychosocial treatments to the mix. I know the response: to improve socialization. However, doesn’t class work count towards psychosocial therapy?
Psychosocial treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (changing negative thought patterns), family education, occupational therapy, group and family psychotherapy, and cognitive remediation. They are thought to help lessen schizophrenia symptoms, learn new skills, help in coping with the illness, prevent relapse, and achieve a connection with others.I already learn new skills from all the classes that I take. Regarding the compensatory learning strategies, I think the classes I’m in also aid in memory, planning, organizing, and concentration. I think this blogging helps, too. It allows me an outlet to journal experiences each day. In that way, it will aid in preventing relapse by getting feedback from my family members in order to stay focused on being mentally healthy.
This class was a circle of healing using the fire element in the form of flame and ash as our focal point of intention. Our goal was to destroy that which no longer serves us, such as negative memories, and allow it to be transformed into new beginnings.It is a purification ceremony. Each person in the group was helped to form clear intent before we started. My goal was to burn the old in order to make way for the new. Others wanted to go inwards to use their DNA to connect with their ancestors, release negative energy, leave old habits behind, learning to forgive, or let go fears or limitations and grieve losses to free up space and resource of mind and body. Those connecting with their ancestors first grieved the loss of their loved one then called upon them for guiding spirit. It was to banish mental burdens in the flame and make way for balance and harmony to be created from the ashes.
We used stones, water, and nature as well to connect with our intrinsic purpose and to move ahead with purpose in being a creative participant in life as a whole. The last part of the session was in the back garden where we embraced all that grows and transforms such as plants, trees, and flowers. Our goal in the back garden was to face our fears, especially of the unknown, which for most of us involved chronic illness (mental or physical). It put us all on the same level as we shed our masking personas that we took in to the class. We ended at the water feature which symbolically cleansed us from toxicity and mental debris and restored and renewed our purified being.
In this class, we first set up our sacred space. Next we received our model cue for the day. Then as we wrote the instructor guided us through relaxation prompts to allow our creativity to come forth. Afterwards came the opportunity to share which promoted recognition of our efforts, connection with others, and understanding of different circumstances which were in our stories. Both speaker and listener interacted, even if the listener never spoke. It was truly enriching to hear about the lives of others in what they wanted to share in this courageous writers circle.
One of the things about me is that I’m open to new therapies such as soul journeying. It is for purely meditative reasons and Friday night’s class was tremendously calming and provided the opportunity for self-awareness. Clear intention, in the form of a clear question, made the journey to inner wisdom and healing very focused. The facilitator warned that lacking a clear intent would result in the journey being fuzzy. I wanted to know how I could be of help to a loved one. Others made it a healing journey, interpretive, a journey to meet with an ancestor, connection with the natural world, or explorative. We then learned how to create and hold sacred space so others cannot as easily harm us. We did this by restoring individual power and health (balance and harmony) through intention (focus).
She started by telling us our style options for journeying: being on the outside looking in, walking with our helping spirit, or merging with our power animal. Flipping back and forth between styles was also an option to us. Next we were told that everything that was about to occur on our journey was an answer to our question or intention.
Then the instructor guided us through the three worlds (lower, upper, and middle). Each has a transition area such as a tunnel, clouds, or fog. The lower world can be accessed through visualizing entrance via a natural body such as a lake, stream, roots of a tree, etc. I used a lake that I knew well as a child as my access point. The upper world passage for me was via hot air balloon. I visualized that then ran into a cloud layer as my transition point. The middle world is our world and entry was via a fog mist as I left my front door. Each world has power animals or guardian spirits that teach or guide us, thereby helping us solve our real world problems. (Drums guided us between worlds and to start/stop points along the way)
I thought it was sort of like a visualization puzzle. The class assisted us in expanding our awareness, self discovery, healing, increased energy and allowed us to access our own individual spiritual guidance, Higher Power, which varied for all involved. All in all, it enlivened me and restored balance and completeness.
This creative psychotherapy–embodied imagination–assisted us in visualizing imagery from our dreams as well as memories to work our way through our body. Since dreams are felt as real world experiences, they occur in a world that can be accessed to explore the landscape of that dream world to work through problems. The teacher helped us by talking throughout and asking us to mentally describe the landscape so we could better experience the vivid process. At that point we felt what we had sensed during the dreaming process. We then explored the symbolism of other people, places or things in our dream. We embodied the different states or perspectives through sensations we had during the dream or memory process. In my case, I used my dreams of being inside lost inside my mind and body where I tried desperately to repair illness. Some group members worked with memories of childhood trauma while others worked with bad dreams of arguments, war, or a cheating spouse.This new awareness changed the way we perceived the dream or memory so that we could better mentally work through our problems in our everyday life by dealing proactively with an approaching negative situation similar to that of our bad dreams.