5 Jun 2019

An interview with John Beveridge

John Beveridge is an attachment-based, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer who will deliver at Wimbledon Guild on Saturday 12th October 2019.

John Beveridge ( ATSAC -UKCP) is an attachment-based, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer, working in private practice in Central and North London since 1997.

John will be speaking at Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training’s Winter Conference : The Body In Mind - The Body In The Therapeutic Space

On the 12th October his presentation is entitled:

Opening the Heart - The Application of Love

For tickets to the event please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-body-in-mind-the-body-in-the-therapeutic-space-a-one-day-conference-tickets-56479605019


 Why do you think it’s important to link the body and the mind in psychotherapeutic work?

There has been for too long, a disconnection between the body and the mind. Our nervous systems have barely evolved from the hunter-gatherer groups from which we came. Yet, here we are, living in an age of hyper-individualistic neoliberalism which encourages self sufficiency, and the diseases of our time, narcissism and addiction, are thriving.

Our developmental histories, attachment patterns, the transferences we co-create, and our social systems, all form the stories about ourselves which we carry for a lifetime. These stories are the product of our left brain, which is always trying to make sense of an overwhelmingly complex, and threatening world. We cling to these stories because they make us feel safe. Therapies with a Somatic focus give the patient a chance to slow down and work in the present. We can help them to change the meaning they attach to themselves and their lives, through sensations, images, beliefs, and affect, which arrive from moment to moment.

Can you say how the use of somatic therapies inform your work with sex addiction?

When I came to see to see addiction as, “a dysregulation of the mid-brain dopamine (pleasure) system, due to unmanaged stress, resulting in loss of control, craving, and persistent drug or behaviour use,” I became more empathic to my patients when they relapsed.

Many hormones, neurotransmitters and body chemicals like; endorphins, cortisol, adrenalin, and oxytocin, create powerful sensations, feelings, and impulses in our bodies before we have even begun to engage in thought or rational choice. None of our behavioural impulses or actions are driven by conscious thought, they are driven by the unconscious, right hemispheric centers of the brain. We respond to perceived threat and trauma with the behaviours of fight, flight, freeze, or social engagement.

Sexually compulsive behaviours often create dissociation, a state that resembles freeze as a protection against emotional pain, shame, rage, and distress. The need for relationships is often denied and relinquished for the diminishing returns that compulsive behaviours provide.

Somatic experiencing in therapy can help people use self-regulation with a regulated ‘other,’ which can help to restore the interpersonal bond, and diminish the need to act out in compulsive behaviour which has often been trying to tell the story of their traumatic lives.


Are there any books you would recommend for therapists wanting to learn more about the link between the mind and body?

  • Healing Developmental Trauma. How early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self Image, and The Capacity for Relationship. Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre. 2012
  • In An Unspoken Voice. How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Peter A. Levine PHD. 2012
  • The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy. Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation. Deb Dana. 2018
  • The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Bessel A.Van der Kolk. 2015


What are your hopes delegates will take away from your presentation at the October Conference?

I hope that delegates will go away feeling resourced with a new sense of optimism about, and interest in somatic work, which seems to be a natural development of the paradigmatic shift that began with attachment theory and relational psychotherapy.

The focus in psychotherapy is moving from the analytic question of, “How do you feel about that?” to “What do you notice in your body when you tell me that?”

I believe that lasting change can occur when traumatised people who have lived at high levels of activation, learn to tolerate peace and calm in their nervous system, which allows the body to heal itself through the physical experience of trust in the therapeutic relationship.

Trust is only a concept of the mind until it is felt as safety in the body.


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