Maria Alexandrou, a psychotherapist based in Paros and Athens, takes a holistic approach and specialises in trauma healing, therapeutic hypnotherapy and somatic psycho-therapy. Paros Life spoke with her last month.
Q. What motivated you to become a therapist?
A. People have always interested me. I believe in them, in their capabilities, and I know they can make their lives easier, more worthwhile and enjoyable. Life needs continuous effort. “Bios,” a Greek word for life, comes from the word power. We need power and strength to put in the effort, and then we can accomplish great things.
All my methods aim at helping people find balance. The human being is body, mind and soul, and these have to function in balance. For this to work, we have to be in contact with our emotions, so that we can connect to our surroundings and other people. An event that affects us strongly may break this connection. This is what we try to re-establish through psychotherapy.
For example, on Paros, one man facing financial disaster got depressed, took antidepressants and completely withdrew from his business. Another man facing a similar disaster worked on himself. He asked for help, we worked together on his issues and now he is doing very well.
Q. Can a person overcome a trauma without help?
A. That depends, each of us deals with trauma in different ways. The danger is that we may bury it. But the body doesn’t forget. It’s like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. Trauma may be expressed through chronic fatigue, muscle pains and migraines, for example. This is where I come in to work with the patient and question what incident could have caused this. Sometimes it may be so far back that you can’t remember.
Q. So suppressing painful incidents can create problems for our nervous system?
A. Usually we bury very strong incidents that we cannot confront. Our most important concern as human beings is to survive. And sometimes we will do that any way we can. If we cannot escape or fight, then we forget the incident in order to continue. The problem is that once the danger is over, we do not react. After being chased, animals will find ways to calm down: They tremble and shake in order to release the surcharge of energy. People ignore this natural recovery process. For example, when we see someone trembling after an accident, we will give him water and tell him to stop.
Q. How does hypnotherapy work?
A. We use hypnosis to correct things that have been recorded wrongly in our subconscious. Hypnosis is a very deep state of relaxation where there is no logic or criticism. When we reach this state we can re-negotiate certain wrong ideas that we accepted. It has been the most successful method for people who want to stop smoking or lose weight or overcome phobias.
Q. What lessons have you learned through all your years of working with people?
A. Our natural state of mind should be that of relaxed alertness, like a cat. If you are continually on the move, as most of us are, you miss out, you can’t handle situations, you run, but you never get there. Relaxed alertness means being aware of your environment and in contact with yourself, which allows you to react and to succeed. We are beautifully made and we should look after what we’ve got. The word “tychi” (which means luck and fortune in Greek) has its roots in the word “constructing.” Our fortune is not God-given; we have to work for it!
Maria Alexandrou, originally from Paros, gives lectures at the Municipality’s parenting seminars and the Ekatontapyliani school for parents, runs a parents’ group in Naoussa and is starting another in Paroikia. She will give a lecture in Lefkes on 2 May. She holds private sessions in Athens and Paros. Info: 693-676-5088, firstname.lastname@example.org H