Healing Catharsis

Healing Catharsis

26 Jun 2022

Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy

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This informal CPD article on Healing Catharsis was provided by Tatiana Vorontsova director at Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy, a wellness and beauty education clinic in London.

What is a catharsis?

One of the most powerful, yet humble and noble experiences to go through as a therapist is witnessing a healing catharsis in clients. We often talk about this with our students during class time. So, what is a catharsis? The term itself comes from the Greek katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing." A catharsis is an emotional release linked to our need to relieve unconscious conflicts. Stress, grief, anxiety, struggle, fear, anger, sadness, and trauma can cause intense and difficult feelings to develop over time. We literally become walking-talking containers for this emotional residue! “You issues get stuck in your tissues” – the phrase our students get to understand really well.

Many clients report begin feeling “emotional”, “being tearful”, and “thinking more about their lives' past and present”. They can experience explosive release of deeply rooted suffering and pain – sometimes surprisingly for themselves! Imagine yourself going to a beauty treatment or face massage and ending up crying! Why does it happen? Is it a good thing? What do we do when a client goes through healing catharsis?

We know that emotions are body reactions to the outside triggers, they are very visceral in nature, meaning that emotions are a full body experience where brain produces certain biochemicals activating different parts of the body to respond to the trigger. Although it is very healthy to be naturally self-expressive, there are situations where our emotional reactions are inappropriate, embarrassing, unhelpful, hurtful to others and produce negative consequences resulting in social isolation. As children, we were natural at expressing our feelings – we cried when we were hurt, we threw tantrums when we wanted attention, we laughed out loud when happy, but overtime we learned that expressing our true feelings and emotions was not to our best advantage. We might have been shamed, ridiculed, punished, isolated. We were hurt.

As part of growing up, we learned to hold on to certain feelings, especially those with negative and destructive connotations like anger, prostration, fear. We learned to either bottle them down, suppress them, or deny and repress. NEITHER approach is healthy. NEITHER approach serves us in the long term.

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy and ethical ways to deal with emotional release – all sorts of dance, therapeutic art, mindful breathing, vocal therapy, martial arts, and many forms of body-oriented techniques – all of which are designed to shift “stuck” energies located in different parts of the body as primal reaction to trauma and pain. When your spirit is restored - your true beauty shines.

Wellness and beauty treatment

So, what is the physiological mechanism behind catharsis?

It’s no secret that emotions and muscle activation are closely intertwined. Unexpressed emotions stored within body’s organs, muscles and tissues can create a cascade reaction and snow-ball effect on the well-being, physiological and psychological health of an individual.

The activity of the facial muscles and emotional states mutually influence each other based on the principle of facial feedback. Experiencing negative emotions causes an increase in the tone of facial muscles, whilst prolonged tension of facial muscles maintains and intensifies negative neuropsychological states. On the other hand, persistent relaxation of facial muscles through afferent channels breaks this vicious circle, positively influencing emotional state. Our techniques attempt to correct the physiology of the relation between emotions and facial muscles activation through proprioceptive input, so once we release, or decrease the tension in the facial muscles, we release those “stuck” energies, the brain receives corresponding message and we feel lighter, calmer, at peace.

When the therapist does a deep, focused work on the area which happened to be the storing container for unexpressed feelings, it is highly possible that the client will experience emotional release. It might not happen on the first or second session, and it might not happen to every client, but repeated muscle relaxation can lead to emotional healing and eventually, healing catharsis.

So, is it a good thing? A lot depends on the setting where it occurs and post-cathartic care. Under the right circumstances, catharsis experience gives you a chance to heal and transform deeply-routed life experiences. The secret is that catharsis removes the most important block to all healing – retention of the energy of visceral pain stored within the body. Stuck emotions are, in fact, a visceral pain that our body is holding onto as a protective and coping mechanism.

So, whatever we refer to as “emotional release” is, in effect, the release of that deeply-seated pain that our body requires an enormous amount of energy to maintain. The release of that energy manifests as full-spectrum body reactions – from crying to belly laughter. Therefore, a SAFE and NON-JUDGEMENTAL environment is paramount. It is important to note, that true healing catharsis requires surrender of the self-control of the personal ego, which is a very vulnerable thing to do for most people. That’s why a lot of us are getting stuck with those energies for a long time, sometimes lifelong!

Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy

We give our students tools and techniques to create that sacred space for their clients, so that their ego feels safe to surrender to their own bottled-up powerful feelings and emerging energies that are perceived as “dangerous” to self-image and the others – which is exactly the reason they were supressed in the first place! To be a witness of healing experience is a very sacred place for any bodyworker. Our passion ignites every time we see people liberated, lighter, uplifted, and more centred. When our clients leave feeling more beautiful, looking fresher, radiant and glowing – we know we stay true to our mission – elevating from inside out!

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy

For more information from Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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