Yoga and Clinical Psychology
Jo Hew works as a clinical psychologist specializing in complex trauma. She is also a keen yogini and completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training at Dancing Warrior Yoga in March 2014. Read on to find out how she is using her yoga experience in her work.
- How has your yoga training influenced the way you view practices of psychology?
Psychology has traditionally been “talk-based” (i.e., top-down approach). Absolutely nothing wrong with that – it works well for many conditions. I guess the only limitation that comes to mind when it comes to complex trauma is that it can be limited. One of the reasons why I took up yoga teacher training is that I noticed a few of my (trauma) clients weren’t really responding to typical talk-based therapies, so I thought by using aspects of yoga to settle the body, the mind might then be more receptive to traditional psychotherapies. Basically I think yoga can help to regulate emotional and physiological states.
- How do you see the future of the body and yoga informing the practices of psychology?
I think there’s already quite a bit of research out there about how yoga can benefit people who experience anxiety and/or depression, and it’s still growing. Similarly, the practice of yoga offers a platform for trauma survivors – it integrates physical movements and restorative practices (e.g., pranayama) into the treatment, which helps trauma survivors build inner strengths and resources in an embodied manner (promoting healthy integration of mind and body). The individual can learn to develop a healthy relationship with their bodies and not fear bodily reactions.
- How do you imagine taking your skills in both yoga and psychology into the future?
Oh gosh, I’m really not sure. It’s great that there’s more research on yoga and mental health etc. I’m enjoying my work as a psychologist and definitely enjoying my yoga practice – which definitely helps prevent burn out as I work with quite a complex population of clients. I definitely don’t perceive or conceptualise my clients’ issues as “all in the head” but rather assess whether the head and the body are functioning well together, if that makes sense.Tags: psychology, therapy, yoga