Unstuck: How Healing Frees Us


There is a common theme within many prominent healing modalities, which is the theme of being stuck. While the concept of being stuck seems easily recognizable, the ways that it manifests can take many forms. A key issue often addressed in therapy that highlights the degree to which human beings get stuck is trauma. When exposed to a triggering stimulus, trauma can make individuals feel like they are stuck in a past traumatic experience. Trauma impacts the brain by making the amygdala (the brain’s fear center) hyperresponsive to triggering stimuli. This impacts the individual by having their medial prefrontal cortex (area meant for reasoning) shut down, thus making the individual not acutely aware of what they are experiencing. This can elicit a fight, flight, or freeze response in the individual making them prone to emotional outbursts or shutting down.

Trauma in the Body and Healing Modalities

In addition to the impact on the brain, trauma can also manifest in other areas of the body. These include being physically tense or having chronic lower back pain. Trauma can lead individuals to experience sensations such as depersonalization (loss of awareness of the self and proprioception), derealization (loss of one’s sense of reality), or alexithymia (loss of emotional recognition). One healing modality that addresses these challenges by helping individuals cultivate a sense of connection with their bodies is yoga. Yoga can serve as a powerful mechanism for people to gain a positive relationship with their bodies, feel grounded in their reality, and quiet the mind from the harmful impact of trauma.

Along with the physical impact of trauma, it is important to evaluate its’ metaphysical effects as well. A healing modality that helps individuals on both a physical and metaphysical level is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a part of the ancient practice of traditional Chinese Medicine. It operates under the notion that the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points that create energy flow or “qi”. Disruption of qi can lead to diseases, so acupuncture is applied to certain points to make them unstuck and help improve the flow of qi.

Another form of healing that addresses the ways people can be stuck on a metaphysical level is that of Spiritual Response Therapy (SRT). SRT is based on the premise that humans unconsciously have positive and negative programs. These negative programs can make people feel stuck and lead to psychosocial distress and avoidant behaviors. By clearing out these negative programs, individuals can experience life positively and openly.

Modalities of Psychotherapy

Various modalities of psychotherapy also address how people are stuck. Cognitive Behavioral Therapies such as (CBT, REBT, DBT, and ACT) place a heavy emphasis on the ways that people are stuck, as evidenced by principles such as core beliefs or rumination. Core beliefs give individuals often faulty assumptions that lead them to be stuck in patterns of thinking and behavior that negatively impact themselves and those around them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapies

In modalities such as CBT or REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy), individuals are encouraged to actively change the ways they think by challenging what can be perceived as faulty core beliefs.The concept of rumination is when individuals get lost in their thoughts and worries, often making them disassociated from what is happening in front of them. This is one reason why DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) incorporate Mindfulness principles to help individuals stay in the moment and not get tied up in the past and their worries.

In DBT and ACT, individuals are encouraged to change their relationship with their thoughts and accept them as a product of their cognition rather than the driving force of their behaviors. By cultivating the ability to remain present and changing their relationship with their thoughts, people can benefit from these therapeutic modalities to become unstuck from negative patterns of thinking and behavior.

Internal Family Systems

Another form of psychotherapy that places a heavy emphasis on the concept of being stuck is Internal Family Systems (IFS). IFS is a form of psychotherapy developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, which asserts that human beings have many parts that influence their behavior and cognition. IFS acknowledges while individuals may behave in less than exemplary ways at times, ultimately people have no bad parts. One critical aspect of these parts is if they often do not recognize how old we are, they may cause people to react as if they are young children as opposed to their current age.

IFS teaches people to examine the ways they are stuck through the viewpoint that these stuck parts are trying to protect them, but through a process called unburdening, we can help these parts become unstuck. The release of the burdens for these stuck parts enables them to go to their naturally helpful states.

Feeling Unstuck

Feeling stuck at times is a natural part of life, but feeling stuck all the time detracts from the beauty and awareness of the present. This is why at Torus Therapy, our therapists take an eclectic approach to practice by utilizing a combination of some or all of the aforementioned psychotherapies because we aim to face the unique challenges each client may have concerning feeling stuck. That is also why in addition to psychotherapy, Torus offers additional healing methods as they too can have a great impact on helping individuals release from their stuck points. Whether it is by addressing thoughts, behaviors, or trauma many practices can help you find the inherent strength to let go and move forward. If you are interested in learning more about any of these modalities or speaking with someone from Torus about which one could best suit your needs, please contact us directly.

Written by: Nick Shaw, MSW Intern