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  • Writer's pictureTasha Devereaux, MA, LPC, NCC

Bottom Up Approach to Mental Health

In counseling, a bottom-up approach involves focusing on the client's immediate experiences, sensations, and emotions rather than starting with cognitive processes or thoughts. This method emphasizes understanding and addressing the client's physiological responses, emotions, and behaviors first before delving into deeper cognitive or psychological aspects. Therapists utilizing a bottom-up approach often use techniques like mindfulness, relaxation exercises, sensory interventions, and body-centered therapies to help clients regulate their emotions, manage stress, and develop self-awareness. By starting with the body's responses and sensations, this approach aims to build a stronger foundation for exploring and addressing psychological issues in therapy.


To calm the nervous system using a bottom-up approach, start with grounding techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness exercises. Engage in activities that stimulate the senses positively, such as listening to calming music, aromatherapy, or gentle touch like a warm bath or massage. Incorporate physical movements like stretching, yoga or tai chi to release tension and promote relaxation. Adequate rest, a balanced diet, and regular exercise also play a crucial role in regulating the nervous system. By addressing the body's physical needs and sensations, a bottom-up approach can effectively soothe the nervous system and promote overall well-being which can help with healthier cognitive processes and thoughts.



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