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About Dr. Misty

Dr. Misty Gibson earned her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision in 2020 (yeah, THAT year). This milestone fueled her dream of teaching, mentoring, and supervising counselors-in-training with a neurodivergent-affirming approach. When she's not shaping future therapists at Antioch University Seattle or The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, she's running her vibrant group practice, FlowArt Therapy.

At FlowArt Therapy, we focus on supporting the mental health needs of neurodivergent and queer folx. And guess what? Dr. Misty is also an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist! She’s passionate about working with people in open relationships, polyamorous networks, and the BDSM community. Dr. Misty is all about breaking boundaries and celebrating diversity in every form. 🌟

About Michell

Michell Brockman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington state, who earned her Master’s in Clinical Counseling in 2022. As a neurodivergent human herself, Michell gets the struggles of navigating a world with neuronormative expectations.

Working alongside Dr. Misty at FlowArt Therapy, Michell is passionate about supporting neurodivergent adults, the LGBTQIA community, kink and BDSM enthusiasts, and those in polyamorous and ENM relationships. A trauma-informed therapist, she loves using EMDR, parts work, and somatic body-focused therapies to help her clients thrive.

Michell always dreamed of being a therapist (and an artist), and now she’s both! Constantly learning and creating, Michell loves sharing her knowledge and unique perspective with the world. 🌟

It all started with an inquiry—Michell reached out to FlowArt Therapy for a clinical internship, when Dr. Misty was just a lone sole provider, and the magic began! Under Dr. Misty's supervision, Michell thrived through her internship and associate licensing, and now, they work side by side as colleagues and professional partners throughout all of FlowArt. With a shared passion for advocating and raising awareness about the awesomeness of being neurodivergent and queer, they’ve grown the FlowArt community from FlowArt Therapy to include FlowArt Academy, and their quirky podcast, Neurosparkly. Together, they're enhancing our world to learn, accept, and support neurodivergent humans through knowledge, courses, and general fun!

At FlowArt, we’re expanding beyond therapy to bring you awesome courses, a fabulous newsletter, and our super fun podcast. Why? Because we want to support neurodivergent folx everywhere—not just in Washington state! Our mission is to build a vibrant community of support, awareness, and inclusion that spans states and countries, connecting people who might never have met otherwise.

As neurodivergent individuals ourselves, we know how tough it can be to make close connections. That’s why we’re creating a space where you can show up as your most authentic self. We want to know you, and we want you to know us. Let’s make this community sparkle together! 🌟

listening to the body is difficult for many neurodivergent and marginalized people because of the trauma we've endured

Listening to Your Body: The Interoceptive System

June 12, 20243 min read

Listening to Your Body: The Interoceptive System

Today, we’re diving into an often overlooked but vital aspect of our sensory experience: the interoceptive system. Interoception is our ability to sense internal bodily states, such as hunger, thirst, and pain. This system plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being by helping us recognize and respond to our body's needs. However, for many neurodivergent individuals, interoceptive processing can present unique challenges. Let's explore how the interoceptive system works, the difficulties that can arise, and strategies to support interoceptive processing.

The Importance of the Interoceptive System

The interoceptive system is fundamental to our daily lives and overall well-being. It allows us to:

  • Detect Internal States: Recognizing hunger, thirst, pain, and other internal cues helps us meet our body's needs.

  • Regulate Emotions: Interoception is closely linked to emotional awareness and regulation, as physical sensations often accompany emotional experiences.

  • Maintain Homeostasis: By sensing and responding to internal signals, we can maintain a stable internal environment, essential for health and functioning.

Challenges in Interoceptive Processing

For many neurodivergent individuals, interoceptive processing can be a significant challenge. Here are some common issues:

  • Difficulty Recognizing Internal Signals: Struggling to identify feelings of hunger, thirst, or pain can lead to unmet needs and health issues.

  • Misinterpreting Bodily Signals: Confusing one internal state for another (e.g., anxiety mistaken for hunger) can affect emotional regulation and behavior.

  • Delayed Responses: A delay in recognizing and responding to internal signals can impact overall well-being and daily functioning.

Strategies for Supporting Interoceptive Processing

Supporting interoceptive processing involves teaching individuals to recognize and interpret bodily signals and creating supportive environments. Here are some strategies:

  1. Teach Individuals to Recognize and Interpret Bodily Signals

    • Why It Helps: Understanding and correctly identifying internal states can lead to better self-care and emotional regulation.

    • How to Do It: Use activities and discussions to help individuals become more aware of their bodily sensations. Encourage them to describe what they feel and associate these sensations with specific needs (e.g., “I feel a dry mouth, so I am thirsty”).

  2. Use Visual Aids to Remind Them of Bodily Needs

    • Why It Helps: Visual reminders can prompt individuals to check in with their bodies and address needs they might otherwise overlook.

    • How to Do It: Create charts, schedules, or visual prompts that remind individuals to drink water, eat meals, take bathroom breaks, and rest. Use symbols and pictures for clarity.

  3. Incorporate Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

    • Why It Helps: Mindfulness practices can enhance body awareness and help individuals stay tuned into their internal states.

    • How to Do It: Introduce mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, body scans, and guided imagery. Encourage regular practice to build interoceptive awareness and reduce stress.

Additional Tips for Supporting Interoceptive Processing

  • Consistent Routines: Establish consistent daily routines to help individuals predict and manage their bodily needs more effectively.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage individuals to recognize and respond to their interoceptive cues.

  • Professional Guidance: Work with occupational therapists or psychologists to develop personalized strategies and interventions tailored to individual needs.

Conclusion

Understanding the interoceptive system and its complexities is vital for creating supportive environments for those with interoceptive processing challenges. By teaching individuals to recognize bodily signals, using visual aids, and incorporating mindfulness techniques, we can help make the world of internal body awareness more accessible and manageable for everyone.

Remember, every step towards understanding and supporting sensory processing is a step towards inclusivity and better quality of life. Stay tuned for more insights and strategies to support our neurodivergent community! Thank you for joining us on our sensory experiences series! We hope you liked learning with us, and we'd love to hear your feedback!


References

  • Frontiers. (n.d.). Evaluating Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Treatment: Issues and Analysis. Retrieved from Frontiers

  • MDPI. (n.d.). Sensory Processing Impairments in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Retrieved from MDPI

  • Research AOTA. (n.d.). Occupational Therapy Interventions for Children and Youth with Sensory Processing Challenges. Retrieved from Research AOTA


sensorysensory experiencessensory processinginteroceptivelistening to the body
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