Human Systems Occupational Therapy combines a compassion-focused practice approach with the use of a multisensory environment to make a significant difference in the lives of people with a variety of life challenges.
Compassion focused therapy (CFT) was described by Paul Gilbert in 2010 in London, U.K. but has emerged as a popular approach throughout the world due to the increasing popularity of compassion mindfulness and a relatively new scientific understanding of the natural inclination of humans for social interaction. A multisensory environment provides a tool in the hands of a skilled compassion-focused therapist to observe, understand, and influence stress-based functional emotional system patterns that are observed in people with autism, sensory processing challenges, post-traumatic stress, dementia, and many mental illnesses.
Rewarding emotions that accompany social interactions are often dampened in these populations due to feelings of being unsafe or threatened. The fight-flight-freeze responses or emotional triggers that accompany feelings of social isolation or threat to safety can develop in early childhood within families that are unable to model and give value to positive social behaviors. These same responses can develop in children with healthy pro-social role models when a child’s nervous system or arousal level does not allow for healthy family bonding. Development of these emotional triggers are also common during aging years and specifically in people developing dementia since threatening feelings of social isolation can be enhanced by memories of earlier in life when a person was able to be more socially interconnected with others.