Integration = Mental Health
In my work as a therapist, I rely heavily on the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology to guide my actions. To make a complex topic more bloggy all I will say about this study right now is that it is built around the idea that mental well being is dependent on integration. This concept is defined as the degree to which components of a system are both differentiated and yet connected. Applied in therapy what this means is that a healthy individual demonstrates thoughts, feelings, and actions that represent a balance in energy.
What does that even mean? Like I said, it's kind of complex.
I'll give some examples quick. When an individual is struggling with PTSD their brain is overactive in the amygdala, or fear center. Many other things are also happening, but this overactive amygdala is largely responsible for the feelings of hyper vigilance, activation, and stress we associate with PTSD. This brain isn't looking particularly integrated at the moment. Unable to reengage the calming capacities of other brain systems, this person may be prone to panic and fatigue.
Lets talk about someone who is in the process of coming out of the closet. Every brain is different, every story is unique. That said, and for the sake of example, lets say this person has a self concept that has been split into two parts, as can be common with LGBTQ+ folks. A product of always having to present a specific way, this person may feel inconsistent and confused as they begin the long and difficult road of coming out. In therapy, the work with this person might look like growing in awareness of these different parts so that we could gradually help them link and strengthen each other.
Basically, integration is where it's at. I love thinking about the ways myself and my clients can grow in our integration. What's great is that healthy relationships are inherently integrating. This is one reason I think therapy can be so helpful. For the set session time a container is held in which integration can not only be engaged but also focused on and turned up.
Maybe you feel split between selves, maybe you feel stuck in a single painful self, or maybe you're just curious to see what the unique layers of your own integration are.
If so, feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, happy integrating.