“People are a combination of body, heart, and mind. You cannot separate them from each other.”
At BioCheck, we elevate our mental support to a higher level. This is facilitated by psychologist Fabienne Melcherts. In this article, she introduces herself and provides more insights into BioCheck’s approach to mental health. “You cannot see the body and mind separately.”
Getting people moving by talking with them while seated. Fabienne Melcherts did it for years. During her work in youth care and later in a psychological practice, she missed attention to the body and movement in the treatment of mental health issues. “It’s actually odd to try to get people moving while sitting,” says Fabienne, who, as a corporate coach at her previous employer, came into contact with BioCheck. “As a human being, you are a combination of body, heart, and mind. If you have a problem in one of those areas, it pays off to address all those areas. However, many people with stress or burnout symptoms often only talk to a psychologist or just engage in sports, pushing their exhausted bodies even further. BioCheck stands for a holistic approach, which I find very appealing.”
Fabienne recovered from burnout herself through a combination of exercise and coaching. “I know from personal experience what it’s like to hit rock bottom, and taking rest alone doesn’t lead to sustainable recovery. Through conversations with my coach, I learned a lot about my mind and behavior, and through exercise, I learned a lot about my body, its limits, and its possibilities. I had ignored my body for years. Exercise taught me to listen to it again and to take care of it in the right way.”
Integral part of programs
At BioCheck, people have been recovering from stress or burnout symptoms for years through a combination of physical exertion (based on data-driven personal capacity), mental awareness, and breathing exercises. With the arrival of psychologist Fabienne, this mental awareness is expanded and further professionalized.
Psychological guidance is now a permanent part of BioCheck’s Vitality and Recovery Programs. Group sessions are alternately conducted by a physiotherapist and a psychologist. It is assessed for each individual participant whether one-on-one guidance by a psychologist would be beneficial. In addition, people can turn to BioPsychology for mental guidance, combined with measurements such as heart rate, heart rate variability, and breathing.
Fabienne: “BioCheck already provided psychological guidance and education, with the aim of creating awareness of the effects of daily actions on energy levels. We are now taking that to a higher level. As psychologists, we delve a layer deeper from our theoretical knowledge and practical experience, examining the root causes of certain behaviors even more.”
Learning to feel better
“In our group sessions, we work with themes,” says Paul van Ketten, a psychologist at BioCheck working with groups. “We do this based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This behavioral therapy helps people navigate obstacles in a flexible way, so they can continue investing in things that truly matter to them. We provide insight into their behavior patterns. Even people who have a relatively good understanding of their own behavior have a blind spot. Just like every car has a blind spot. We are that extra mirror that makes that blind spot visible and prevents accidents. Our goal is not to make people feel better. No, we want people to learn to feel better so that they are back in the driver’s seat instead of the passenger seat. Ultimately, this will hopefully make them feel better.”
Connecting with the body
Fabienne adds an important nuance: “Feeling better is achieved by better connecting with your body. When people think of feeling, they often associate it with emotions. But feeling also involves physical sensations. A higher heart rate, breathing, tingling. People need to learn to recognize these. Because that’s often where it goes wrong. People don’t recognize how their body reacts to stress, so they keep going until it’s too late. Through real-time data, participants gain more insight into what is happening in their bodies and learn to influence it. This is also used during the 1-on-1 sessions. And that makes our approach truly unique.”
Balancing the autonomic nervous system first
BioPsychology is for those who primarily seek psychological guidance and also for participants who want to (or already do) follow an exercise program. Psychological support begins after the participant has been working within one of the BioCheck programs for a few weeks. Fabienne explains why: “Our programs are designed to rebalance the autonomic nervous system. We want the body to first calm down and get used to physical exertion. When people experience stress, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, impulses, planning, and organizing works less effectively, and information is processed less effectively. Only when that is better balanced are people ready to put a bit more strain on the brain as well.”
The first successes have already been achieved in recent months. Fabienne says, “For example, we helped a participant who had anxiety and panic symptoms. Within six sessions, he was back on track. From my experience, people with this background generally need a longer psychological treatment. What I see in people now is that they have become better at feeling and being more in touch with their bodies. The data provides a lot of insight, understanding, and, consequently, restores control. They now know better how to tackle the challenges in their lives and have the tools and knowledge to continue working on their recovery independently. I expect that many people will benefit from our approach. We also want to explore how our method and software can support other psychological practices. Together, we can make a difference.”
To learn more about BioPsychology, contact Fabienne Melcherts: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 010 226 3143.