Healing the Mind and Body Connection with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Over the years of attending different trainings in psychotherapy, I've had the privilege of discovering Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, (I'll use the term 'SP' interchangeably as I write this), is a therapeutic modality for trauma and attachment issues.

I find SP is a really heartwarming approach that delves into the intricate connection between the mind and body, and is an approach that understands our experiences are not merely confined to our minds but are also etched into our very way of being in the world.

Understanding Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

In contrast to traditional psychotherapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy uniquely blends conventional talk therapy with body centred techniques to access the inate wisdom of the body. It recognises that our bodies hold emotions and memories often challenging to express in words alone, allowing for comprehensive somatic, emotional, and cognitive processing and integration.

SP focuses on resourcing, enabling individuals to process challenging life experiences, especially those related to trauma, anxiety, and chronic stress. By tuning into bodily sensations, movements, and posture, clients access deep-seated emotions and memories, cultivating a profound sense of safety within their own bodies. This approach fosters personal growth by transforming habitual physical and psychological patterns that may impede well-being. It's particularly effective in addressing trauma, disregulated activation, and developmental issues. Ultimately, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy empowers individuals to harness their strengths and navigate lasting change and well-being.

The Mind-Body Connection:

At the very core of SP lies the profound understanding that the body and mind are inextricably linked. Unresolved emotional issues often manifest as physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, pain, or digestive problems. This therapy embraces the idea that addressing both the physical and emotional aspects simultaneously is the key to achieving holistic healing.

Therapy supports people clients learn to attune themselves to their bodily sensations. By exploring these sensations without judgment, individuals gain valuable insights into their emotional states. This heightened awareness equips them to regulate their emotions effectively, paving the way for healing and personal growth.

Benefits of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

  • Trauma Resolution: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy excels in processing and resolving trauma. By blending body-based techniques, individuals can gradually release the grip of traumatic memories, empowering them to reclaim control over their lives.
  • Emotional Regulation: Through mindfulness and body-centred practices, clients acquire the tools to regulate their emotions, fostering newfound emotional resilience that enables them to navigate challenging situations with composure and confidence.
  • Improved Relationships: By understanding their own body cues and emotional responses, individuals can enrich their interpersonal relationships. A deeper awareness of one's own emotional landscape often leads to improved communication and empathy.
  • Enhanced Self-Awareness: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy nurtures a profound sense of self-awareness. Clients gain insights into their thought patterns, emotional triggers, and behavioural tendencies, paving the way for greater self-acceptance and personal growth.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy offers a transformative approach to healing that warmly embraces the profound connection between the mind and body. By celebrating the wisdom of our bodies and delving into the language of sensations, individuals embark on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and healing. This holistic approach not only alleviates emotional pain but also kindles a profound sense of well-being, illuminating a path towards a brighter and more balanced future.

Carol Duffy Nov. 2023

Improving your Sleep

One of the most common underlying factors that can contribute to sleep difficulties is anxiety and stress, both of which can trigger anxiety and stress can be seen as potential triggers that disrupt sleep patterns and lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people may find themselves ruminating over recent events, future events, decisions to be made, filled with anxiety, dread, or restless.  

Understanding the link between anxiety, stress, and sleep can help people identify the root causes of their poor quality sleep.

If you want to improve your sleep, you might consider some of the following tips:

  • Consistency: Sticking to a regular sleep schedule will help to regulate your body's internal clock and can improve your quality of sleep.
  • Relaxation: Engaging in a calming bedtime routine can help you to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Comfort: Creating a comfortable sleep environment for yourself, this can reduce any physical discomfort and promote relaxation for better sleep.
  • Reduce: Reducing activity on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices will give your brain a welcome break from the the blue light technology that disrupts your sleep patterns, including the speed of videos and information to your neural networks. 
  • Limitation: Try avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol before you go to bed, this can prevent sleep disruption and improve sleep quality.
  • Stress-management: Managing stress through relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation for better sleep.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can improve your overall health and well-being.
  • Patience: Improving sleep habits takes time and consistency, and it's important to be patient and persistent in order to see results.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding daytime napping can help get a better sleep at night.
Seeking professional help for persistent sleep problems or ongoing insomnia, may help improve overall quality of life.

Carol Duffy  

Trauma Treatment Planning - what is it?

The process of treatment and planning of therapy often involves three distinct phases, each with its own set of goals and interventions. These phases are:

  1. Stabilization Phase: The first phase of trauma treatment planning focuses on establishing safety, building trust, and stabilizing the individual's emotional and psychological state. The primary goal is to help an individual feel secure enough to begin processing their traumatic experiences. Interventions during this phase may include safety planning, mindfulness techniques, relaxation exercises, and education about trauma and its effects. 

  2. Processing Phase: The second phase of trauma treatment planning involves processing the traumatic experiences and memories. The goal is to help an individual gain a deeper understanding of what happened and how it has affected them, as well as to desensitize them to the trauma. Interventions during this phase may include, somatic psychology, sensorimotor psychotherapy, tracking the levels of arousal in the nervous system, cognitive restructuring,  and other trauma informed techniques.

  3. Integration Phase: The third and final phase of trauma treatment planning focuses on helping an individual to integrate their experiences into their larger life narrative, and to develop new coping skills and strategies to help them move forward. Moving from a place of survival to thriving. The goal is to help the individual feel empowered and able to resume normal functioning in their daily life. Interventions during this phase may include psychoeducation, addressing social supports, and integration of learning, including the link and balance between cognitive understanding, and somatic awareness.  

Trauma treatment planning is not a linear process, and individuals may move back and forth between these phases depending on their individual needs and progress. Trauma informed treatment is tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual.

Carol Duffy 

Anxiety : what is it ?

What is anxiety ?

Anxiety can be both an emotion and a feeling, depending on how it is experienced and understood.

From an emotional perspective, anxiety is considered a complex emotion that includes feelings of apprehension, fear, worry, and nervousness, among others. These emotions can be triggered by a variety of internal and external stimuli, such as stress, uncertainty, or danger.

From a more physiological perspective, anxiety can be experienced as a feeling or sensation, often manifested as a tightening in the chest or a feeling of unease in the stomach. This feeling may be accompanied by other physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heartbeat.

Overall, anxiety involves both emotional and physical components, and it is considered a complex psychological response to a perceived threat or danger.

How can anxiety affect our day to day lives ?

Anxiety can have a significant impact on an individual's daily life. It can cause a range of physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and muscle tension, which can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities. Anxiety can also lead to difficulty concentrating, social and occupational impairment, and sleep disturbances, which can negatively affect a person's overall well-being. Avoidance behaviour, irritability, and negative self-talk and self-doubt are also common features of anxiety. Seeking support from a mental health professional can help individuals develop coping strategies, challenge negative thought patterns, and develop a greater sense of self-awareness and control over their anxiety.

Can psychotherapy help with anxiety ?

Psychotherapy can help with anxiety by providing individuals with coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and tools for managing their anxiety symptoms. Therapists can help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety and provide support and guidance for gradually facing and overcoming feared situations. Additionally, therapy can help individuals develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, leading to improved emotional regulation and a greater sense of control over their anxiety.

Carol Duffy Psychotherapist 

Digital Detox

Online usage has soared over the last number of years, and even more so during COVID. During this period many people have moved aspects of their lives online. People no longer are just searching for information, but are shopping, working, socialising, accessing a vast range of services, including medical consultations and health care services.    

This increase of online activity, social media usage, and reliance on TV's, Laptops, Phones, Gaming Consoles, and a range of other devices has had a huge impact on the neurocircuitry of  our human brains.

Multiple studies have found strong links between heavy online activity, compulsive usage of devices and social media engagement, with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness, hyperactivity, sleep disruption, irritability, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.

What can we do about this?  

Everything that we do become a habit, and if you are looking at your phone enough, it will become a habit. To changes habit, we need to break those habitual cycles with replacement behaviours and better coping strategies. 

Your brain is seeking reward, and will be invested in engaging in something that feels good. Start small and consistent, and begin with interrupting the old habit with the new habit you want to form. Habits are formed through repetition. 

If you find that you are constantly picking up your phone every time an add comes on tv, or there is a pause in conversation, put your out of reach of your hand. Maybe put it in a different room so that you have to get up and move to get the phone. Turn off some of your notifications, Delete some of your apps. Ask yourself,  is this adding to my life?

Watching too much TV or Gaming? Perhaps make a deal with yourself before you watch TV or turn on that Gaming Console, put a time limit on how long you are going to spend.  Perhaps you might set yourself a timer to help. Consider what you will do after the time is up: what else are you interested in? walking, reading, baking, listening or moving / dancing to music, spending time with your children, a pet, friends, gardening, stretching? 

Everyone has to start somewhere. Be consistent, and most importantly, is follow through. 

Finally, give your brain, eyes, and body a rest from the screens, be new, be you, with a digital detox.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist.

Life After Sports

The life of an athlete or sports person is filled with striving, momentum, excitement, career and being in the spot light. But what happens when you have to retire, whether through age, fitness, exhaustion, or injury.  The change can be dramatic, with many athletes struggling to adapt to regular life afterwards. 

Ceasing the demands of rigorous training, athletic performance and peak fitness, can leave anyone who has left their sporting career reeling from the experience of sudden loss.  The transition into a life that no longer requires the level of dedication, determination, and commitment, along with the loss of a community spotlight, can evoke strong feelings of depression, emptiness and an acute loss of identity. 

Athletes and Sports persons are often portrayed by the media as, being able to take on any challenge and to be mentally tough, leaving it difficult to speak about how life has dramatically change and the impacts on psychological and cognitive wellbeing. 

You have a right to get support like anyone else. 

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist 

Workshop for Practitioners: Working with Shame in the Therapy Room

Friday 25th April 2020, 9am - 5pm, Glosna House, Athy.


Shame is a painful interpersonal emotion that develops in early attachment relationships.

Children see themselves through the eyes of their attachment figure, and if they perceive disapproval, ridicule, or aversion, this affects their self esteem, sense of self, body, and emotions.

When shame is exposed, it creates a pain that is unbearable, thus concealing itself making it difficult for a client to acknowledge, and a practitioner to identify.

Chronic shame is a problematic symptom that is often endured by clients who have experienced complex trauma, creating alterations in selfhood which can generate stuckness and lack of progression in the therapeutic process. Since shame is experienced with symptoms that are comorbid with trauma, supporting a client requires careful navigation by a practitioner.

This workshop, will focus on the early roots of shame, including the impacts on the nervous system and body, and on patterns of cognitions, emotions, and beliefs. It will help practitioners recognise the role of autonomic arousal in the nervous system, exacerbating symptoms, by identify animal defense survival responses in client who have experienced trauma.

Practitioners can avoid shame in the therapy room, due to a difficultly with their own shame, so we will explore how to be with shame, of both the practitioner and client. We will focus on how an implicit and explicit relational attunement between therapist and client, can create a safe and compassionate relational container for our clients to begin the interpersonal healing of shame.

This workshop will incorporate a dynamic combination of theory, collaborative interaction and experiential learning.


Carol Duffy (MIAHIP, MIACP, MEAP), is an accredited Psychotherapist & Supervisor. She currently works with Adults and Adolescents in Meath. During her career she has held roles as a senior clinical assessor, and psychotherapist in a number of charitable organisations.

Carol has training across the life span, with core training in Adult Psychotherapy, a Post Qual .Dip. in Adolescent Psychotherapy, and an MA in Integrative Psychotherapy & Play Therapy. She has additional training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy which incorporates neuroscience, attachment theory, hakomi, somatic awareness and movement interventions rooted in mindfulness.

She brings to her work a solid MindBody connection, as a qualified yoga teacher, and grounding in her personal mediation and mindfulness practice, that began 30 years ago. She is currently undertaking a Diploma in Teaching in Mindfulness Based Interventions.

Carol has spent over a decade exploring the topic of shame and competed research in 2018. She believes in working with all parts of a person within the therapeutic relationship, and runs trainings for practitioners on shame, incorporating trauma, mindfulness and compassion.

Venue: Glosna House Holistic Centre, Ballylehane Lower, Wolfhill, Co Laois

Time: 9am to 5pm

Cost: €100

CPD - 7.5 hours

For Psychotherapists, Counsellors, (Trainees, Pre-Accrediated), and Psychologists

For Bookings contact Glosna House Holistic Centre

Phone: 087 7693966

Email: marie@glosnahouse.com 


Stress and Anxiety

Many people are affected by poor mental health either due to their work environment or personal life. Most jobs may leave you feeling like you are under pressure and as a result it is ok to feel stressed or anxious. However, if you regularly feel overwhelmed by these feelings this could begin to affect you health.

Stress and anxiety can be experienced because of work or due to other factors, such as, family, relationships or financial concerns. One issue could be causing you to feel stress and anxiety or it could be a build up of several things and this could make it difficult to identify what’s affecting you. When we feel stress or anxiety in one area of our life this can affect other areas also.

Our therapists are qualified to the highest standards and can support you with issues such as stress and anxiety what ever the causes.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist 

Pregnancy related anxiety and phobia (Perinatal Anxiety and Tokophobia).

Perinatal anxiety and Tokophobia

Most people are aware that you can become depressed after having a baby known as prenatal or antenatal anxiety, however, less people are aware of Perinatal Anxiety. This can be experienced during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth. For some women they can experience a particular anxiety about childbirth, this is know as Tokophobia.

Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy, and can lead to avoidance of childbirth.  There are two classifications of tokophobia, Primary and Secondary. 

Primary tokophobia is morbid fear of childbirth in a woman, who has had no previous experience of pregnancy. Secondary tokophobia is morbid fear of childbirth which has developed after experiencing a traumatic obstetric event during a previous pregnancy.

Both of our therapists have training in sensorimotor psychotherapy, and can work with you to reduce symptoms, and phobic responses. We can help you to make sense of things and understand yourself better. Support you to recognise unhelpful patterns in the way you think or act and explore ways to change them in a safe space.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist 

Anger: Inward and Outward expression

Part of being human is to feel anger at times, it is a normal, healthy emotion. It isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ emotion and can be very useful. Feeling angry about something can help us motivate us to create change or to achieve our goals, it can help us to stay safe and enables us to defend ourselves if we experience danger. Most people will experience bursts of anger which are manageable and don’t really impact their lives.

Anger becomes a problem when it gets out of control and could harm you or can harm another. We can express our anger in unhelpful and different ways such as:

  • Inward aggression, telling yourself that you hate yourself, withdrawing from the world, not providing yourself your basic needs (like food)
  • Outward aggression, such as shouting slamming doors being physically or verbally abusive towards others.
  • Passive aggression such as ignoring people, refusing to do tasks, being sulky or even sarcastic but not saying anything directly aggressive or angry.

Learning healthy ways to recognise your anger and importantly how to deal with anger is vital for our mental and physical health.

Our therapists are experienced and accredited counsellors and psychotherapists and can help and support you.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist 

Image (c) Carol Duffy 2019

That repetitive loop of anxiety

That repetitive loop of anxiety

Anxiety can take over a persons life often to the point that it becomes overwhelming, and exhausting. A person can be plagued by persistent thoughts and critical self commentary that can undermine self esteem, and instead creates self doubt and fear. Anxiety can then make it difficult to feel confident as a person, to feel happy with accomplishments, and interrupt our ability feel relaxed in social settings.

The repetitive cycle created by anxiety can lock us into to withdrawing from social interactions due to a fear of exposure. This creates a loss of potential support and sense of belonging, and instead we can be left with a sense of disconnection and isolation.

Addressing anxiety requires getting to know what way it is being experienced, and exploring a way to move beyond its associated symptoms, emotions, behaviours, and thoughts, towards feeling more at ease with ourselves and free to engage with others and with life.

Carol Duffy  Psychotherapist 

Image © Carol Duffy 2018

What happens when stress becomes intolerable?

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their life, and most of the time we can manage the feelings that go along with stress. While it is uncomfortable, we do know that it will pass. 

But what happens when stress becomes intolerable? 

Many of us will have periods in our lives when we are experiencing an excessive amount of stress, that begins to affect our daily life: worrying thoughts, self doubt, indecisiveness, even sleepless nights, changes in appetite, and days filled with anxiety. 

Often, the people around us notice that we are stressed, but we may not even notice or realise ourselves, that our stress levels have gotten out of hand.

Here is a list of some of the signs and symptoms:

  • irritability
  • frustration
  • angry outbursts
  • inability to relax
  • trouble concentrating
  • feeling anxious
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • drinking too much
  • racing heart
  • stomach aches
  • eating too much or too little.
If you are experiencing symptoms like headaches, racing heart, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or stomach issues, it is always wise to seek the advice of a GP to rule out any underlying medical issues.  

In counselling, by getting to know what your personal symptoms of stress are, what factors contribute to increased levels of stress, will help you detect when you are getting overstressed. Therapy will also bring a focus to identifying what measures to put in place before you arrive in a place of overwhelm, and help you get back on track to well being.

Carol Duffy Psychotherapist 

Only Then

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Only Then

To know the meaning of transformation,
I must embrace all the grief that lies within me.
Only then will I be shown the true meaning of change.

To use all of my senses in my every experience,
I will then desire the richness of real living.
Only then will I know what it means to be passionate.

To embrace everything in my being and let go of my mind,
I will open my heart and pure light will radiate through me.
Only then will I experience the essence of true love.

To dare the risk of exposing my vulnerability and step beyond the illusions of fear,
I face the challenge of embracing the truth of my existence and death.
Only then am I bound by nothing and will I experience real freedom.

To dive into the river that is my soul,
I will swim with everything that lives within me.
Only then will I truly recognise the depths of simplicity.

To open my very essence and become one with all that surrounds me,
I will feel time slow down and be filled with the wisdom of all eternity.
Only then will I understand true stillness and smile with enlightenment.

© 2006 Carol Duffy

Published 2015:  Inside Out: The Irish Journal for Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy, Issue No. 76.

The Trauma of Childbirth

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All women want to go through a beautiful experience giving birth, with many expectant mothers having hopes that the birth of their child will be a relaxed and calm experience. However, this is not the case for many women.

In fact, it is estimated that almost three percent of all vaginal births and six percent of cesarian section births result in PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and up to a third of unplanned cesarian section births may result in birth trauma.

Giving birth is not the only cause of birth related trauma. There are many women who will experience a miscarriage, a stillborn child, a premature birth, or a child being born with a disability.

When a birth experience has been difficult, whether that was through a lack of support or feeling safe,  or was overwhelming, disappointing,  negative or traumatic, the effects can be devastating.  

All too frequently, birth trauma often goes unrecognised, with many women feelings 'depressed', when in fact, they could be experiencing the symptoms of trauma.  Trauma related symptoms can include: anxiety, panic, feeling overwhelmed, feeling bad about the birth, feeling depressed after the birth, replaying memories of the birth, flashbacks, nightmares, fear of getting pregnant again, and a range of other symptoms.

While these symptoms can be sometimes debilitating, and can create disruption to day to day living, finding help can the start to recovery. Speaking about the experience of a traumatic birth can be validating, as well as creating an opportunity to bring a reduction in symptoms and improve overall wellbeing.

© 2017  Carol Duffy 

Watching your child's relationship with food.


Yesterdays article in the Irish Times Health, on childhood obesity, is a stark reminder that we are moving into a more sedentary lifestyle where screen time is more prevalent, not only with children, but with adults too. A question to ask is have we adapted our intake of nutrients to match this cultural shift?

We can help our children set up a good relationship with food early on in life.  If you are to consider that a child's natural state of being is to play and explore, and this is how they learn about the world, including about food. Children can explore tastes, sensations, textures and colour, and can learn about enjoying foods. Nurturing playful interaction in the world along with exploring a health relationship with food can promote helpful messages influencing future patterns of attention to what they eat.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist.