Thinking Out Loud

Grounded in the Body

Carl is 41 and works as a project manager for a construction company. He’s a hands-on guy who likes his work and likes to play. He surfs, skis, hikes, enjoys good wine and sings in two different groups. His core processing strengths are intrapersonal, kinesthetic, and visual-spatial. Of course he has his own unique incorporation of these attributes forming the foundation of his processing/communication style.

In counseling, Carl was concerned about stress in his life because he was recently diagnosed with an unusual disorder caused by elevated stress hormones. If the stress hormone levels remained consistently high enough, he would sustain permanent damage to one of his bodily organs.

So, we talked about the stressors in his life. He was single, tired of dating, and wanted to settle down. Pressures at work were high because of the recession and shortage of construction projects. Carl’s younger brother had drug abuse problems and was going through a particularly bad time. All of these matters troubled Carl and he worked hard to put them out of his mind.

Carl had always been healthy, worked out regularly, ate and slept well. He had a few close friends, men he went hiking, skiing, and surfing with. Carl was open emotionally, had good communication skills, and shared his hard times with friends. He looked forward to counseling and was motivated to deal with the stresses in his life. He liked trying to figure things out and learn more about himself, but he was also scared because of his troubling medical condition.

Recognizing that Carl had a strong kinesthetic component, I decided to help him focus more on the sensations in his body and less on words and concepts. We did some basic relaxation and imagery exercises to focus and tune into the body. As I was guiding Carl through this process, I asked him to locate the place in his body where he could experience the stress hormones, which he did. Then he practiced calming and intensifying them by moving an imaginary lever on the arm of the chair.  He pulled back on the lever to lower the stress level and pushed it forward to increase the stress.

This was exciting for Carl as he felt more hopeful working with his body than trying to talk his way out of this difficult situation. He practiced each day getting into a relaxed state, tuning into the “area of the stress hormones,” and toning them down. After a couple of weeks of regular practice, Carl was tuning into this process automatically during the day, managing to keep his stress hormones “quieter.” Within a few weeks, his body began to heal and at his next check up with the doctor he was in complete remission.

Working through the kinesthetic/visual-spatial and intrapersonal pathways helped Carl get direct access to a healing process not accessible to words, logic or interpersonal engagement.  The Communication Styles Framework helps us tune into our natural language and illuminates that pathway.

Back to the blog