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My name is Maria Alda Gomez Otero, but most people call me Alda. I was born and raised in northern Spain, and I spent most of my adult life living in other countries. In 2014, I moved to the UK which is now my home. I love difference and diversity and I am passionate about creativity and wellbeing. I am grateful that my work allows me to work with people from different backgrounds and nationalities and that I can find creative ways to help them live their lives fully.
I trained in one of the most prestigious counselling centres in Ireland.
I am constantly upgrading my knowledge, including recent research.
I have over 10 years experience, including working with very traumatised people.
I don't shy away from whatever you may need to share.
You will be experiencing as well as talking.
Talking and experiencing in therapy can transform your life
You will talk and also experiment with other techniques, including movement, mindfulness and art.
TRAUMA THERAPY - HEALING YOUR WOUNDS
You are not going crazy
Trauma is a part of life. The word "trauma" comes from the Greek language, meaning "wound". We all have wounds because of our upbringing, our inherited traumas, and the difficulties that our society brings. You might have an idea of what "wounds" you need to heal in therapy, or you might not know why you are struggling. Trauma might be a once-off event (e. g. having your tonsils removed), or an accumulation of emotional hurts (e.g. having emotionally absent parents). The area of the brain that makes sense of things, giving meanings to your reality and remembering things, is not fully grown when you are a child, and inactive during stressful, traumatic situations as an adult. As a result, you may not have a typical memory of what happened to you in the past, but you will remember as feelings, impulses or sensations (fear, impulse to run away via addictions, muscle tension). These "memory feelings and sensations" will make you feel as if you were experiencing your hurt right now when you are triggered at work or by your family. But you are experiencing a feeling/sensation flashback.
Trauma can be resolved
Thoughts like "I am unlovable", behaviours like taking drugs, overwhelming emotions that make you feel needy are all symptoms of trauma. As a consequence of your experiences, you have created these thoughts, behaviours and emotional responses in your brain in order to survive. Thanks to them, your body survived. They saved your life and kept you sane. At present, they may be making your life very difficult, but this can be changed.
Recent research has discovered that your brain can change over your lifetime. This is called neuroplasticity. Symptoms of trauma, such as the ones mentioned above, can be eliminated and replaced by more creative, conscious choices. During the trauma therapy sessions, you will have an opportunity not only to learn how to manage your discomfort, but also to discover creative ways to respond to your distress. You can turn your difficulties into a fulfilling and rich life of your making. You can improve your relationships and your self-esteem in your unique way, enjoying life to its fullest.
SPECIALISING IN TRAUMA AND ANXIETY
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ANXIETY THERAPY - CALMING DOWN THE MONKEY MIND
Anxiety can be overwhelming
If you are constantly ruminating about your fears for the future, disturbed by lack of sleep, overwhelmed by a sense of doom, experiencing panic attacks, uncontrollable thoughts or impulses, you may be experiencing anxiety. Some stress is useful, as it can help us find motivation and combat boredom, but when it is so high that it becomes unbearable, you might need professional help. Anxiety can be a symptom of unresolved trauma. This means that your nervous system is overreacting to small triggers, making them into big problems and dangers that seem never-ending.
Therapy can help
Therapy can help in two different ways:
The first one involves managing the symptoms and creating a more stable life. In therapy, you can experience different techniques that can help you manage your anxiety: mindfulness, EFT/tapping, qigong. All of them calm the "monkey mind", term used by practitioners of Eastern practices for the part of our minds that is very active and constantly creating stories, usually negative ones. This way of working will help you keep a stable life, and prepare you for deeper healing.
The second one goes to the root of the problem to resolve it so that you can create a future without that overwhelming anxiety. You may need to talk about what is making your life difficult at this time, or events that left a mark in your past. You may have to face your fears, look at your wounds, and discover what lays behind. You will not be doing this alone. My aim is to create a safe space in which you will be able to experience being supported during this healing process. The opportunity is there to create everlasting change and a satisfying life.
I can help you in both ways. You will keep your anxiety at bay, while discovering what is really causing your difficulties and will have the opportunity to start looking at your current life with different eyes. Life may become an exercise of exploration and new experiences, like a video game with different levels of personal achievement, with the add-on that this game will be real and can transform your life.
Alternative Practices to Support Your Healing
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or Tapping is a very powerful tool to help with anxiety and trauma. EFT or Tapping consists of tapping or massaging different acupuncture points which have been researched to have calming effects on your brain, resulting on long lasting changes in your nervous system, alleviating the effects of anxiety and trauma.
Recommended by trauma experts, like Bessel van der Kolk, and other researchers, tapping has a direct effect on our brains in two ways:
1) Calms down your amygdala. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped part of your brain that acts like a"scared child". It sounds the alarm in your body at the minimum sign of imagined or perceived danger. Most traumatised and anxious people have a sensitive amygdala. EFT can help you keep relaxed while talking about difficult experiences. It is ideal for those who would like to talk about their experiences, but often feel too overwhelmed by their emotions to do so.
2) Eliminates the emotional charge of your memories. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques, which is the right name, as this is exactly what you get from EFT or tapping: freedom from your emotions. You will be tapping on certain acupuncture points while recalling an emotionally charged event (e.g. feeling rejected by your first love) and after a few rounds of tapping, you will remember the event without any emotional charge. You can recall the event and no longer feel overwhelmed by the emotions connected to it. (e. g. shame, anger, sadness).
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Qigong is a set of movements intended to keep your health at its optimum levels, engaging the energy-system (qi) in your body. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctors prescribe herbs, massage, acupuncture and qigong exercises to prevent illnesses and restore health. In TCM there is no separation of body and mind. Therefore, physical and mental conditions are treated in a holistic way. Qigong practices have been the object of Western research in recent years. They have been found to be beneficial to help healing anxiety, depression and trauma.
Used as a complementary treatment in the Trauma Centre created by trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, qigong can be used in two ways:
1) In Individual Sessions: Qigong can be used as an anxiety-management tool within the therapy sessions, during which one or two movements might be learnt to practise at home for symptom management. However, please remember that anxiety is a symptom of unresolved trauma. Managing the anxiety symptoms does not mean that your issues will be resolved. Therapy is needed for issues to be resolved.
2) In Group Sessions. It can also be learnt in groups where the emphasis is in body awareness and being present. This is a more cost-effective treatment, as the financial investment is less.
Increasing your vagal tone (balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activation) can be essential for your healing process. Research with yoga exercises (similar to qigong exercises) has shown that three things help with vagal tone: breathing, chanting and spinal bending exercises. Qigong offers an emphasis on breathing, includes healing sounds used for centuries, and many exercises involve spinal work. Increasing your vagal tone means that it will be easier for you to self-regulate. Self-regulate means that you will not be overwhelmed by your emotions. Qigong can be an effective self-regulator and it would be ideal as a combination to talking therapies to accelerate the healing process.
If you wish to support your healing in a more cost-effective way, you can join a yoga, tai chi or qigong class in parallel to your therapy sessions.
In 2021, I will be creating specific therapeutic qigong groups for anxiety and trauma. The groups will comprise a maximum of 4-6 people. The first groups will run as a pilot project and will be very good value. If you are interested in taking part in this new approach, please contact me. I will publish more information as things get organised.