Ben Bruce has been working in the field for 15-years and has treated thousands of patients in diverse settings such as hospitals, community centres, medical centres, corporate settings, prisons, schools and refugee services. As a result of this he has diverse experience and offers his services as a generalist practitioner working eclectically with multiple modalities of therapy. He offers treatment for:
- Existential and life meaning issues - finding your true purpose and living in courage:
- This is Ben’s major focus in therapy and he looks upon the human situation as one of suffering based on disconnection, lack of meaning, lack of ethics, thwarted objectives and over-exposed information-age confusion. This post-modern age has taken many of us away from traditional settings and community and it is often difficult to find one’s true purpose and deeper interests. We need to reconnect to something bigger than our egos or risk a narcissistic and shallow existence. Learning about your deeper self, your true preferences in life and deeper values is highly important. Learning to be authentic, to be a peaceful-warrior, to develop real skills and to become your own friend and mentor is deeply beneficial. In this way we can learn to connect genuinely with others and cut out the superficial flakiness which is otherwise a common and disheartening factor of modern life.
Other issues that Ben works with:
- Performance and personal effectiveness enhancement
- Stress-based problems
- Depression and Bipolar Disorder (and other mood disorders such as cyclothymia, post-natal depression and pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder)
- Cognitive therapy for psychotic derailment / psychosis episodes
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic attacks and Agoraphobia as well as specific phobias;
- Chronic pain related malaise
- Illness and distress related to diseases such as inflammatory conditions, dyspnea, Menieres and vertigo.
- Trauma and Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Preventing suicide
- Emotional disturbances and anger management/ emotional dys-regulation
- ADHD and Autism related problems
- Personality disorders such as Borderline personality disorder and self-harm behaviour
- Eating disorders and addictions such as gambling and drug use
- Relationship problems, couples and family therapy, teenage angst and identity crisis adjustment
- Bullying and harassment; work place issues
- Grief, bereavement and death-related adjustment
- Highly sensitive people and spiritual/ religious issues
This list is quite exhaustive and reflects the service delivery settings, patient demographic history and treatment modalities that Ben has experience and specific training with. Some of these disorders also require a team of different practitioners and case conferencing to effectively help a person in need.
Specialising in treating a specific disorder is not only onerous and repetitive; it is also quite impossible: many people present with multiple ‘co-morbid’ disturbances either at the same time or over time. Working in hospital and medical settings means that all kinds of patients come Ben’s way referred by their medical doctors and other health care professionals as well as word of mouth.
Sometimes the presenting disorder diagnosis is masking secondary and tertiary disorders – such as Obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression actually ‘hiding’ a deeper post-traumatic stress disorder. Ben looks upon mental illness and adjustment issues as a spectrum of consciousness moving from order to disorder, cyclically and transiently or based on an underlying pattern, with moderating variables such as environmental triggers and supports along with personal identity/ temperament/ personality and socio-cultural issues. This is complexity theory where we not only have factors of a system or problem, but also the inter-relationship between the factors. Accordingly we need to assess, diagnose and then contextualize the problem within the framework of the whole person and do so with holistic vision.
In many ways, psychological disorders are ‘un-made’ or reverse engineered in this way, whilst maintaining the wisdom that has resulted from the experience - a precious achievement gained in living life.
Different modalities of therapy are utilized because we all have different personalities, backgrounds and world views. In therapy, we have to speak the same language to affect any deeper understanding, change and healing process.
Ben utilizes the following modalities:
- Mindfulness based Cognitive-behavioural therapy:
- Cognitive refers to what is occurring within the mind; mental events such as thought patterns, styles of thinking, values and belief systems.
- Thought patterns and belief systems are examined and changed with this method. Cognitive distortions are biased ways of thinking and believing, where reality is twisted based on pre-existing world views generalized from prior experience. We aim to tap into this and modify it. This method is highly effective and very evidence-based.
- We understand that the way a person feels and experiences life is based on how he/she thinks and operates in the world. Thoughts and behaviours are changed in order to change a person’s situation which is causing suffering.
- Intervention is based on logic and open-mindedness and is particularly useful for rational skeptical thinkers who are not interested in deeper ‘fringe’ methods of psychotherapy or talking about their proverbial childhood.
- Repetitive behavioural regimens are designed and provide a personal program for lifestyle change, much like a fitness program at a gym.
- This refers to the way one engages in life, how present or absent one is, how mindful or mindless. We understand that being present in the Now and focusing on what is happening physically or otherwise observing thoughts as they emerge is a wonderful way to neutralize disturbance and be naturally happy. When we get ‘hooked’ by thoughts and overly-identify with them we can lose sight of the bigger picture, obsess over a tunnel-vision version of reality and forget who we are and what is really important to us.
- Getting out of the mind and getting real is the outcome of mindfulness practice. Gently pottering through tasks and chores reveals how natural happiness can emerge. Rushing mindlessly creates suffering based on mental obsession and the arduous constraints of pre-conceived limitations. We weren’t given a users-manual for the mind when we were born and we are just expected to ‘know’ how to use the mind. The hard fact is we do not. We must be taught. Mindfulness and meditation practice addresses this problem.
- Meditation is a sitting practice utilizing a method such as breath awareness, mantra and focus to allow for coherent thought and accessing deeper aspects of the mind and being. This creates a relaxed, calm and disciplined mind and is absolutely essential in life and especially to overcome suffering and psychological problems. Mindfulness practice is more general and focuses on how we engage in everyday life (a generalized and extended meditation discipline). Ben teaches meditation and mindfulness practice.
- Schema therapy:
- looking at the way we scaffold experience and represent the world within our mental constructions. Most of this is laid down in the first 4-years of life, but with conscious insight and methods we can affect inner schemata to change a person’s worldview and sense of self. In this way, many problems are actually the result of projection and biased perspective. This is a deeper form of Cognitive therapy.
- Hypnosis and meditation (mindfulness):
- Learning how to quieten the mind is essential in this age
- Hypnosis utilizes deep states of mind (trance) for over-riding toxic programming and efficiently scaffolding new ways of being. Hypnotizability is a personality trait and is very effective for 20% of people and moderately effective for 70% of people. It is best used as an adjunctive part of an over-arching therapy and rapid change can result from it.
- Psychodynamic therapy:
- This method focuses on the unconscious mind, inner conflict and repression. It is Freudian based but has adopted modern developments from cognitive therapy etc. Discovering and expressing unresolved issues causes catharsis and creates relief from neurotic manifestations (the old term for emotional and behavioural obsession, suffering and drama). We can see that suppressed, repressed and unresolved trauma sit within the psyche like a rotten apple or a cancer. Talking about these issues with a skilled empathic listener can help us let these issues go, understand our deeper self, forgive and feel freedom from the past.
- Jungian analysis is a more esoteric version and focuses on inner resources from the superego (higher self) and collective unconscious archetypes (deep images within the collective race memory of humanity). Reincarnation issues may be examined. A deeper sense of spiritual identity is often the result of Jungian practice.
- Shamanic, wilderness and indigenous therapy:
- This is particularly useful for people feeling disconnected from nature with an overdose of urban culture and technology; shamanic approaches are used in indigenous cultures all over the world for deep healing and insight. We can connect to our deeper roots by using such methods as initiation, ritual and ceremony in nature.
- Getting out of urban areas allows us to cleanse toxicity, electromagnetic field radiation and microwaves from mobile phones, radio, high voltage power lines and Wi-Fi as well as population-dense mental-chatter. We can feel so much better when this interruption to the nervous system and mind is relieved and repaired.
- Connection to deeper energies in nature and the Spirit of the Land is an elemental practice which yields fruitful results and gives a deep sense of life-meaning and belonging. Traditional ways from the Aboriginal people of Australia, the Native American people and the Celtic ways of the North are utilized and are deeply enriching.
- Family therapy:
- Cybernetics systems analysis reveals deeper aspects of conflict, family issues and intergenerational saga. This method is also useful for ‘proxy-families’ such as workplaces and organisations. Within a family or team variant roles are often taken quite unconsciously as people act out their unresolved issues. Family and systems therapy can also be conducted with one individual present, keeping in mind their role in the wider system. This method is highly effective.
- Innovative technology methods:
- Neuro-bio feedback and micro-current therapy work directly with brain and nervous system functioning and affect the mind-body connection.
- Meridian therapies based on acupuncture principles and other Taoist methods (from the East).