Since the beginning of March Belgium is forced to #stayhome. We are expected to stay at home as much as we can, follow online classes, telework and limit our social contacts. According to Aristotle man is by nature a social animal. And so it is self-evident that these are extremely challenging times for all of us. Especially mentally. It is now more than ever important that we get the help that we need, that we take care of ourselves and each other. To talk about it is one of the keys to a healthier state of mind. That’s where therapy comes in.
Julie Dingemans is 22 years old, founder of therapy center happyagain and not your average therapist. She is a manual therapist as well as a mental therapist. Through Bowen therapy, a manual therapy that focuses on the connective tissue in your body, Dingemans treats frequent complaints. Psych-K on the other hand, is the mental or emotional therapy that Dingemans practices.
Important to note is that a Psych-K therapist is not the same as a regular psychologist. ‘A psychologist focuses on the conscious part of one’s mental being, while I focus on the unconsciousness of people’, Julie says. ‘I help people overcome trauma without actually addressing the trauma. The patient is not expected to give any details. Regular therapy might expect the patient to talk about the trauma and then accept it. Don’t get me wrong. I truly believe that this is very helpful too. I think it is a high added value and an important part of the process. But I don’t believe that this will completely resolve the issue, for some people it is even impossible to talk about it. For this we need to pay attention to our subconsciousness.’
Stress has been one of the keywords during the past few months. These are unprecedented times we have no idea what is going to happen or what is ahead of us. According to Dingemans, there are two types of stress.
‘The first type of stress is what we call healthy stress, which is linked to adrenaline. The other unhealthy type of stress is caused by cortisol. If young, vibrant and healthy people are forced to deal with this unhealthy type of stress for a longer period, they are more likely to suffer from burn-out in their future.’
‘The pandemic, in addition to daily pressure through social media, is the perfect recipe for young people to crash. This is why it is so important for them to take care of themselves.’
‘When we break a leg or burn our finger, we treat it immediately. Unfortunately, when our mental health is damaged, we rarely search for help. People are big on blood tests. They ‘just’ get their blood tested to see if they are lacking vitamins. Why can’t we check up on our mental health too? A lot of complaints like back pain, stomach ache, headaches and sore muscles are often caused by stress for example. By taking painkillers or getting a massage the problem won’t be resolved. At least not for long. This is because the actual cause of it is still there. The mental issue. Some people are born lactose intolerant, others get it later in life. The second one is often caused by an extremely stressful or challenging event in your life. Still don’t believe that taking care of your mental health is of vital importance?’
It is clear that both aspects of the human body -mental and physical well-being- are needed to be treated if you want to resolve certain issues.
‘I would like to emphasize that I see the value of traditional medicine/therapy and I believe these are vital for a lot of people. I think we will need them forever. What I’d like to see more is a working partnership between the two. A partnership between the regular approach and the alternative approach.’
And don’t forget: ‘We can’t be there for other people if we can’t be there for ourselves first’
Text: Claire Gevers, photos: Claire Gevers