In this 30-minute sequence, we will move the spine in its 6 directions, practice 3-part yogic breathing, and then spend 10-15 minutes following the breath in a gentle shamatha meditation.
Body-Based Counseling for Adults + Teens
Have you been in talk therapy for years, and know that there is a deeper layer of healing you could be accessing? You know your story; you know why your inner difficulties developed, and yet you realize that hasn’t been enough to shift out of them.
By including mind, body, nervous system, and spirituality, we can reach the root causes of neurosis where they are stored, rather than just addressing them with the conceptual mind.
In a culture that encourages us to live from our brains, the wisdom and pace of our animal bodies can get lost.
Together, we will dive below the mental chatter and free the stored constriction and wisdom of your physical being—what does your body remember? What is it trying to tell you?
If we can slow down and open to inner awareness, the body can be our greatest resource, friend, and teacher.
Somatic therapy and coaching has proven effective for issues such as:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
chronic pain (fibromyalgia, migraines, etc.)
digestive issues (IBS, SIBO)
We are largely influenced by the work of Dr. Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing Trauma Therapy). Levine noticed that wild animals don’t experience traumatic stress (only humans and domesticated animals do)! For example, if a rabbit is almost eaten in a field, it doesn’t begin to avoid fields, self-isolate, develop tics, or become depressed.
So, what is it that rabbits do that we don’t do? Well, they know how to follow and complete their nervous system cycles, while we humans have trained ourselves out of many natural responses, like shaking, fighting back, or running away. Think about it: if your body wants to run away from your threatening boss, your brain is most likely going to stop you, because there would be unwanted consequences of that action.
Wild animals don’t have to override their instincts. In one sense, this has lead to amazing developments in human culture; in another sense, it has left us with a slew of nervous system issues that somatic therapy works wonderfully to treat.
So what can we do? Do we have to go live in the woods? Fortunately, somatic psychotherapy offers ways we can work with our nervous systems that are safe, contained, and allowing. We can invite the body to tell us its needs, desires, and unfinished business, and then we can finish it!
Watch this video for a beautiful example of a wild animal processing the charge of a stressful situation. This is footage of a bird escaping a potentially lethal attack and shaking off the excess charge in its body.
The body wisdom to complete these processes is one of the main reasons wild animals don’t develop PTSD, while humans and domesticated animals do, and one of the main tools Somatic Experiencing helps our bodies to remember. When we allow our bodies processes to complete, we access our animal legacy of health and healing.
* from Blue Planet 2 with David Attenborough
This is where mindfulness comes in—in our sessions we help the body unwind, by assisting you to be in the present moment and attend not just to thoughts, but also to sensations, images, emotions, and behaviors. Perhaps a better word for this would be bodyfulness or presence, aligning mind and body.
Interestingly, many clients find this alignment puts them in direct contact with a living sense of spirituality. This spirituality is then used to further build awareness of the individual’s deepest desires and strengths.
We also believe that we do not regulate alone—as mammals, we are built for co-regulation. This means we use our relationships, and the therapist-client relationship, to resource and strengthen nervous system range. (This is partially based on Stephen Porges’s work with polyvagal theory and also on Diane Poole Heller’s work with attachment styles / attachment adaptations.)
The body is intelligent, and we believe anything we are experiencing inside or any action we take (no matter how painful or seemingly destructive) comes from a place of trying to regulate and keep ourselves safe. Sometimes we just need to bring all of ourselves up to date by working through old material, in order to uncover our innate goodness and wisdom.
I have tried therapy before that was not all that helpful; why would somatic therapy be any different?
We firmly believe that using mindfulness of the body is more effective at engaging the nervous system and producing results than many forms of talk therapy. We will talk in our sessions, but we will also go much further and seek out the relief your whole being needs to heal. To read more about the need for using the body in counseling, see Why Somatic Psychotherapy?
Do I have to be a meditator or a spiritual person for this therapy to work?
While some form of daily mindfulness practice will aid progress in this type of work, you do not need to have a lengthy history with meditation or yoga to do somatic therapy. It is our job to guide you in this process, and make it as gentle and accessible as possible, no matter your relationship with spirituality. If you have a body, you’re ready to begin!
I am ready . . . what is the next step?