Parallel in Yoga Therapy and Counselling – a Strengths-based Approach

I love doing yoga therapy. I have been a yoga therapist for many years now and I’ve had much success in helping my clients progress in their mental health problems. I also love doing counselling work which is why I went back to school to become a registered counsellor. During my educational training for counselling, I needed to contemplate and develop my preferred therapeutic style. What I learned is there is a common thread that binds my approach in yoga therapy to my preferred orientation in counselling and this is through the strengths-based paradigm.

In the realm of mental health and personal growth, the traditional problem-focused approach in counseling has long been the norm. However, many mental health professionals are recognizing the power of the strengths-based approach in fostering positive change and empowering individuals. Rather than solely focusing on deficits and difficulties, this approach centers around uncovering and harnessing an individual’s innate strengths, skills, and resources. When the spotlight is shifted to a person’s strengths, they are empowered to take ownership of their personal growth journey and overcome challenges in a unique and meaningful manner.

Yoga therapy is typically an adjunct therapy to counselling and is unique in its interventions through the implementation of yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditations, and other yoga based practices for symptom management and relief. In my opinion, one of the significant pieces to the healing that occurs in yoga therapy is the clarity individuals gain when given an opportunity to be in a setting where their mind is calmed and they get a chance to connect to their bodies. During these moments, insight often emerges and I hear statements of certainty about what needs to be done to help themselves heal. The client’s plan for healing is completely self-generated; my role is to simply facilitate the inquiry and promote the setting for the client to make this connection, and in this way, a strengths-based orientation is in play.

Central to the strengths-based approach is the idea of empowerment, and this is where the two disciplines merge. In both yoga therapy and a counselling of this style, the client is encouraged to trust that what presents true and important to them through self inquiry is where the focus is placed. In a strengths-based approach clients are encouraged to recognize their unique capabilities, past successes, and existing resources to tackle challenges. In yoga therapy, empowerment emerges when a client discovers they have the answers within themselves and realize this potential. Both bolster confidence and self-efficacy for one’s healing journey and equip an individual with the resilience needed to face future challenges.

In a world that often magnifies weaknesses and problems, the strengths-based approach offers a refreshing perspective that empowers individuals to harness their innate potential. In doing yoga therapy, I have seen its tremendous benefit towards self-realization and meaningful transformation. I look forward to further connecting to this orientation in my practice of counselling therapy.

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