Have you heard of the term ‘sensory modulation’?
What does it mean? What does it help with? Would it benefit you?
A Definition of Sensory Modulation
First let’s explore what sensory modulation means.
Sensory modulation (SM) refers to gradually regulating input from our senses and adapting to it. Most people learn to do it naturally, often unconsciously, but we can learn to use our senses to purposely improve how we feel.
What is Dysregulation?
When a person experiences dysregulation they are unable to regulate their emotions on their own. They may experience a range of symptoms including anxiety, distress, agitation, anger or depression, which make it hard for the person to self-regulate their emotions.
Learning how to use sensory modulation can provide an effective way to manage these symptoms.
The Role our Senses Play
Every day we use our senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste to engage in the environment.
Sensory modulation can assist the individual to self-regulate, by providing an opportunity to participate in activities and behaviours that engage the senses. Too much sensory input can lead to a person feeling overwhelmed, and too little can lead to a person feeling quite flat and numb.
To help to regulate emotions, SM practices include the use of sensory activities and equipment, behavioural strategies, and modifications of the environment.
Who can use Sensory Modulation?
Anyone can use SM – it’s not just for children and young people. It is also much more that fidget toys and stress balls. Learning how to tune into your sensory preferences and sensitivities enables you to regulate your body’s own responses.
Sensory Modulation in Therapy
In my practice I like to work with clients by selecting a range of SM activities aligned to each client’s sense, to allow them make their own SM strategies.
Clients are often surprised to find that they already use their senses in some way to help regulate their emotions – for example, taking a hot shower or bath to help relax, which uses the sense of touch.
Humming to yourself in class is a way of destressing and uses the sense of hearing; whilst having a cold drink can be quite motivating.
The list of strategies is endless and I find it helpful for the client to tailor strategies to their own unique preferences.
Author: Maree Stevens, BAdVocEd; GCert Sp Ed; M SocWk; M HumServ; GDipCouns; GCert MentalHlthPrac.
Maree is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and Educator with several years’ experience working with children, young people and their families. Maree’s work is trauma informed and person centred, and she is able to provide psychological counselling to young children from age 5, as well as to teens and adults.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.