About Therapy at the Syrona Intensive
What is a Syrona Intensive?
The Syrona Intensives are extended therapy sessions, conducted over the course of several days. They are focused on the CHANGE process. Using current understandings of the neuroscience behind emotions, feelings, thinking, and behaving, the Syrona Intensives teach you about yourself and how you are put together- and how to change the aspects of yourself that are bringing you into therapy.
The Syrona Intensives are designed to help you understand yourself so that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are not such a mystery to YOU. You should not be in the dark about why you do the things you do. This is 2018 – You no longer have to settle for vague explanations such as “It’s a mystery”. “People are complicated”. “We probably will never know”. Yes, there is much to learn and yes, people are complicated. Yet we know A LOT. We are learning more everyday. We can explain human behavior and motivation better today than we could 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Over the next decades, we will be even more knowledgeable than we are today. Change can happen.
The traditional therapy format of 45 -55 minute hour/per week drags out the change process. Just when you are getting into important material, the session is over. Here at Syrona, we immerse you into the therapy process for 7 or more hours per day. A lot can be accomplished this way because you don’t have to stop. We can go into material more deeply and with more focus, leading to deeper change.
The Syrona Intensives are offered in 3-, 4-, or 5- day formats. Whatever the time frame, the Syrona Intensive is different from regular therapy in some important ways:
- We don’t have to stop after one hour.
- With 7 hours or more of therapy a day, we don’t have to rush or skip over important topics because we don’t have the time.
- We have, and take, the time to deeply explore, identify, understand, and work through the problems that are making you seek out therapy in the first place!
- If we run into something emotional, we take the time to deal with it RIGHT NOW.
- We don’t STOP people from getting emotional, we help them get there!
What kind of problems benefit from a Syrona Intensive?
Clients come to the Syrona Intensives for help with many different kind of problems. The most common issues our clients present with include the following:
- Trauma-related issues
- Eating disorders/obesity
- Emotional overeating
- Relationship issues
- Couples therapy
When making the decision to accept someone into an Intensive, the question isn’t really “What is your issue?” as much as “What is needed to get better?”
The clients who come to a Syrona Intensive want to change something about themselves or their lives. Many of them have some sense that they need time to DIG DEEPER into their life story and their emotions (or lack thereof), and to help them make sense of not just their problems, but their LIFE. Many of them are in therapy already (and we recommend this) or, have been in therapy. Here at Syrona we work with your therapist if you have one to better develop action and follow up plans after the Intensive.
What happens in an Individual Intensive?
Therapy at Syrona is customized to YOU, so there is no formula or set schedule of events. What happens during an Intensive depends heavily on who you are, what you need, and what you are prepared and ready to do. Also, it depends on whether you are attending an individual or small group Intensive. However, there are some basic goals and experiences that form the foundation for all Intensives.
To give you some sense of what happens during an Intensive, the following description describes the general process. There are typically three stages that clients go through during an Intensive, although bear in mind that not everyone goes through them all or exactly in this order.
Stage 1: Introductions, Life Timeline, and Education
After introductions, we start right in by asking what you think, feel, and believe about how you got to this point in your life. We then provide a basic overview about emotions, how they work, and the experiential therapy process. From there, we thoroughly explore your life story. Once we have a road map, so to speak, the Syrona Intensive adapts to you and your needs.
At this point, we are able to provide more personalized, in-depth, education about your emotional make-up. This is where the one-on-one attention is so valuable. By focusing on the large and small details of YOUR life, we can more fully understand YOU. We focus on how you have organized your emotional life, paying close attention to your psychological “defenses”. Armed with this understanding, we are then prepared and ready for the next stage of the Intensive.
Stage 2: Experiential Work
The purpose of doing an Intensive is to get you into this stage of the process. The goal of experiential work is to get beyond just talking about your life, and into FEELING your life. It is through understanding and working with our feelings and emotions that change can happen. Feelings and emotions are not the same thing. However, they are vital components for our survival. They contain important messages we need to maneuver effectively through our day to day life. Feelings and emotions are not always intensively felt – though sometimes they have been repressed so much that they can be felt fiercely. However, the goal is NOT to just feel. The focus of the experiential work is to help CHANGE the automatic patterns of responding that are outgrown and no longer serving their purpose.
For some of you, an important (often early) survival strategy is to shut off, or down, some (or all?) of the feeling signals that show up when your emotions get activated. For others of you, shutting down your feelings doesn’t work, so you get stuck in the trap of being constantly triggered and overwhelmed by them. Either way, you are left not knowing what to do with these feelings or to help the emotions do what they need to do once you have them.
So although you certainly seek out therapy to feel BETTER, we know the way to do this is to help you get better at FEELING. During the experiential stage of the Intensive, the focus is on learning how to become more authentic and comfortable with your feelings – whatever they are. You see, feelings are really just important signals that tell us something important is happening. They show up when something meaningful happens to us. If we shut down our “feelings” just because we don’t like them, we lose out on knowing how we really stand on anything. Like who we are, what we like, don’t like, and (importantly) what to do!
Pretty important stuff.
It’s no wonder we end up with symptoms like depression, anxiety, overeating, addictions, etc.
Here at Syrona, we now how hard it is to get in touch with these painful and powerful emotions. We work hard to provide a safe, supportive environment for you to move at your own pace. We believe in the importance of being kind, gentle, and patient. And, we are trained to help you SAFELY make contact with, and stretch your tolerance for, painful (and usually avoided) feeling states. Like Fear. Sadness. Guilt. Shame. Anger. Disgust. Quite the group, wouldn’t you say? It’s no wonder we try to avoid this “party” of painful emotions. However, we now know to do so comes at a great cost – Our issues. Our symptoms. Feeling dead inside. And many other consequences too numerous to mention, but you get the idea.
Stage 3: Conclusion
The process of wrapping up an Intensive takes shape naturally, as the Intensive progresses day by day. Again, there is no “one size fits all” here at Syrona. We do make sure that there is time for you to feel ready and prepared to end the Intensive and return home. For some clients we find ourselves working almost right to the end, and for others, we start closing up the day before. Either way, we spend time helping you organize and process the work done because so much happens every day.
At the beginning of your Intensive we provide you with a notebook and strongly encourage you to keep a journal of each day’s work. This helps as the Intensive comes to a close, because the details matter when summing up the big picture. That is, we go over your journey through the Intensive day-by-day, filling in gaps in your understanding, knowledge, or just plain curiosity! As the Intensive comes to an end, we do the following with all of our clients:
- We identify what we accomplished together during the Intensive.
- We identify next steps to take, either with your regular therapist, and/or in your life in general.
- We emphasis the importance of understanding not only what you did during the Intensive, but also how you now need to relate to your emotional life going forward.
After completing an Intensive, our clients have described the experience as an emotional “shake-up”. In other words, the depth of work done during an Intensive not only works to heal your past, unfinished “business”, but changes how you fundamentally relate to yourself, others, and the world around you. Many of our clients tell us that by learning to be more honest in their emotional life, they feel freer to find and work towards their true interests, goals, and passions.
One of the most gratifying outcomes for us, as therapists and fellow human beings, is hearing our clients express the commitment they now have to staying true to themselves in their day to day life. They feel a powerful pull to have their life hold deep purpose and meaning. For us, this makes our work profoundly meaningful.
What happens in a Couples and Small Group Intensive?
Much of what happens in the Couples and Small Group Intensives is similar to the Individual Intensive. Please read about the Individual Intensive to get a more in-depth overview of the Intensive process. In order to work with more than one person, we have streamlined the process, but we have maintained the stage approach.
Stage 1: We begin with education about YOU, and how you tick. We discuss the cool science behind your feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
Stage 2: We then move right into your Life Story. We pay particular attention to your first 21 years. It is through your Life Story that we begin to build the framework for understanding the how and why behind your automatic, habitual patterns that are causing you pain and heartache.
Stage 3: Moving from your Life Story, we move into the change process directly. Everyone is unique, and therefore we customize the experiential/working phase of the Intensive to you and your issues. Having other people with you during an Intensive adds some powerful benefits, including having the chance to observe and support another person, and being observed and supported by another person. In addition, having more than one person lets us include additional highly effective exercises and techniques.