“The spontaneous movement in all of us is toward connection, health, and aliveness. No matter how withdrawn and isolated we have become, or how serious the trauma we have experienced, on the deepest level, just as a plant spontaneously moves toward sunlight, there is in each of us an impulse toward connection and healing.”
~ Heller & LaPierre, Healing Developmental Trauma
My unique, natural approach to psychotherapy integrates all of the following modalities in varying degrees, based on each individual’s needs, interests, and circumstances. I often work in conjunction with traditional psychotherapists and other healers to support the integration of the body and somatic practice into the healing process. I have listed several websites and books in each of these areas on my Resources page, if you would like further information. For information about my workshops and groups, please visit my Offerings page.
• Somatic Experiencing®
Somatic Experiencing® (“SE”), developed by Dr. Peter Levine, is a gentle, natural approach to the resolution and healing of difficult life events that block one’s experience of aliveness. SE employs awareness of body sensation and scientific understanding of the nervous system to help people renegotiate experiences, and heal, rather than re-live or re-enact traumatic events. SE breaks down experience into small, incremental steps, rather than evoking catharsis, which can overwhelm someone’s system. From the SE perspective, the blocks are not in the actual event, but in the way that one responds to an event and how it is stored in the nervous system. The stuckness we experience in our nervous system can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems, like anxiety, panic, and depression. Working with the body’s natural protective and defensive responses (i.e. fight, flight, freeze), SE supports the release and integration of energy that is stuck in the body. SE has proven to be a life changing method of healing for many, as it reconnects people to their true essence and natural resilience. For more information about SE and Dr. Levine’s work, please refer to the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute website, www.traumahealing.com.
• NeuroAffective Relational Model™
Developed by Dr. Laurence Heller, the NeuroAffective Relational Model™ (“NARM”), is a somatic therapy supporting the restoration of connection and aliveness that is at the very core of human experience and emotional health. As children we all have a need for connection with ourselves, attunement from our caregivers, safety and trust in dependence on others, and our own independence, in order to experience a healthy heart based love and sexuality. In their groundbreaking 2012 book, Healing Developmental Trauma, Dr. Heller and Dr. Aline LaPierre, describe that many symptoms, such as depression, meaninglessness, shame, and low self-esteem, are the result of disconnection from one’s essential life force, one’s feeling of aliveness. Drs. Heller and LaPierre state, “NARM holds psychodynamic, nervous system-based, and Eastern healing traditions as equally important and complementary.” Through a fundamental shift in thinking, and utilizing SE®, somatic mindfulness, and psychodynamic psychotherapies, the NARM approach offers a comprehensive “bottom up”, nervous system based, and “top down”, meaning based, modality for healing. For more information on the NARM model, please refer to Dr. Heller’s website, www.drlaurenceheller.com.
• Touch Skills for Trauma Therapists
Based on the work of SE Faculty, Kathy Kain, Touch Skills for Trauma Therapists provides another modality within which to support the body and nervous system in the release and integration of stuck life force energy. Touch work is not a form of massage or body work, and may be offered to support grounding, containment, movement, and building of resilience. In my experience working with people, touch facilitates a deep settling of the nervous system and a more embodied connection with oneself. For more information about Touch Skills for Trauma Therapists, please refer to Kathy Kain’s website, www.somaticpractice.net.
EASTERN WISDOM TRADITIONS
Mindful awareness is central to all aspects of my work in Somatic Therapy and Eastern Wisdom Traditions; and, as such, it is truly the foundation that underlies everything I do and is the bridge between modern healing and timeless wisdom. Mindfulness is a 2500 year old practice from the teachings of the Buddha; a practice that nurtures present moment awareness and the qualities we want to cultivate to support that awareness. Qualities such as lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and even handed awareness, called equanimity. In order to support mindful awareness, and to incline our hearts and our minds toward acceptance of what is, rather than judging what is, we invite these qualities into our experience. Mindfulness is always a practice, the orientation is always toward opening to our experience, with curiosity and kindness; it is never the intention to get anywhere or to force a particular experience. We simply invite and allow and notice the unfolding of whatever emerges in the present moment. And, while mindful awareness is a simple concept, it is not an easy practice. Mindfulness combines beautifully with somatic therapy. The first foundation of mindfulness is the body, and it allows us to experience healing in a grounded, integrated way. For more information about mindfulness, readings, classes, and my offerings, please visit Offerings and Resources.
Ayurveda is a comprehensive natural health care system, dating back more than 5,000 years to the sages of ancient India. Ayurveda is usually translated as “the science of life”, coming from two Sanscrit words, “Ayu,” meaning “life,” and “Veda”, meaning “science” or “knowledge”. “Knowledge of life” seems like a beautiful translation to me, as Ayurvedic healing considers all aspects of our lives; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Ayurveda is a natural medicine, a science, steeped in the wisdom of nature. While there are many therapeutic treatments to heal imbalances and disease, true healing begins when the “disease” and “imbalance” is resolved. Ayurveda is a lifestyle, a way of being, that emerges out of deep connection with nature’s wisdom. By understanding each person’s unique individual constitution, and the cycles and rhythms of nature, Ayurveda allows a person to return to a natural state of vitality, aliveness, and balance. As a Yoga and Ayurveda Specialist, I weave the natural wisdom from Ayurveda into my work on a regular basis. I bring in practical Ayurvedic recommendations, based on each individual’s needs, and the season, to enhance and support a holistic healing process.
Like Ayurveda, Yoga is an integral system, dating back more than 5,000 years to the sages in the Himalayan mountains of ancient India. Yoga comes from the root word, “yuj,” meaning “to unite,” or “bring together.” Yoga is union, a way of connecting deeply with ourselves. In the West, we are very familiar with the physical, “asana”, practice of yoga and it’s many postures. We are not as familiar, however, with yoga as a lifestyle, a spiritual practice for liberation. My training is in the entire system of Raja Yoga, which includes, in addition to asana, methods of social conduct and personal behavior, breath work, sensory purification, concentration, meditation, and absorption (“samadhi”). My training weaves yoga and Ayurveda together, so, just as I integrate Ayurvedic principals into my healing work, I also bring in principles and practices from Raja Yoga. For more information about Yoga and Ayurveda, please refer to Resources.