People often feel relieved that they can talk freely and confidentially about their lives and the difficulties they are facing with a psychotherapist whose full attention is directed towards their particular experience. Friends, partners and family can be essential support systems in peoples’ lives; however, as a relational somatic psychotherapist, I provide a unique relationship whose specific focus is to work collaboratively with you to understand, explore, sort out and heal what may be troubling you in your body, mind & heart.
A relational somatic therapist brings your body – and how it works – into the therapeutic process. Together, we become curious about your embodied relational history – your family relationships, the way your body moves and feels – and how this limits or supports your natural way of being in the world. We explore your attachment patterns, trauma physiology and sensory processing – and how these are interconnected to create your experience of life. We explore how your health, work, relationships and what’s happening in your life now – come together to create an overall sense of embodied well-being. We will also be curious about your capacity to form satisfying, connected relationships with others. We consider your somatic emotional process – the feelings and sensations you have in your body and heart – so you can encounter more of the fullness of yourself – your ideas about yourself and your habitual feeling state. We will discover how you interact with yourself – from the inside out.
Integrative Relational Somatic Therapy is an evolving dynamic process based partly on talking and partly on working directly with what you notice in your body – your embodied experience — using awareness, breath, movement, sound and touch. This work is based firmly on each person being (or becoming) self-directive and engaged in discovering basic somatic body-focused sensations – and tapping into what feels most alive in you in each moment.
Why take part in an integrated and embodied relational somatic therapy process?
An embodied, relational somatic therapy practice is one where feelings and sensations in the body are explored and understood. How you move, your physical sensations, your emotional struggles, relationship dynamics, health or career concerns, are all subject to movement and change, if you understand the principles underlying how you organize yourself in the world. There are reasons that you hold yourself in a particular posture, feel stuck, frozen or overwhelmed – and there are reasons that you protect and defend yourself from others, from failure, or even, success. Those reasons are found in the deeper patterns in your body, that underlie your conscious mind. When you dive into somatic experience you learn to navigate the unconscious. Somatic practices facilitate self-awareness, mindfulness, and communication with your inner self. You can gain access to deeply-held physical, emotional, and psychological patterns. Once you “meet” and establish communication with these different aspects of yourself, change has already begun.
What can I expect when I commit to attending regular sessions?
After we start working together, you will begin to have an increased awareness and understanding of yourself, your body and your relationships to others in your life. You will learn to pay attention to your whole self – your body, your mind and your heart — and become clear about what is most important to you in your life. You will become more curious and aware of yourself, begin to turn towards and pay attention to yourself, and to your body in fresh and functional ways, have more clarity, more energy, increased feelings of peacefulness and calm, less anxiety, and an increased sense of wholeness within yourself.
How long will the therapy process take?
Psychotherapy is a process and it takes time for deeply engrained feelings to be explored, to move and to shift. Change happens gradually, sometimes out of your awareness, so we are always checking in with and noticing what is happening inside of your body, heart and mind. In the integrative relational somatic psychotherapeutic process, we will co-create new meanings of how you are in relationships and what your relationships mean to you, as well as what you notice in your body on your own and when you are with others. Eventually, you will notice that you are living these new meanings, and experiencing a greater capacity to live from a place of authenticity, self-assurance and joy. A happy, fulfilled life will always contain challenges. Our work together will not remove life’s challenges, but will support you through them and help you to discover more satisfying ways of being within yourself as you move through difficulties and challenges.
What is my role as your psychotherapist & relational somatic therapist?
My role is to hold the “frame” or “container” of the therapeutic relationship. This means that I will listen closely to what you feel and bring in with you to share in our work together, and find ways to reflect with you on the material you bring. We will work deeply at the level of the nervous system, your attachment patterns and your family of origin – to invite change slowly, deeply and gradually. I will be alert to the recurring relational and somatic themes that arise in different parts of your life and together we will explore what meanings you make of the relationships, past and present, in your life. As time goes on, we will start to more easily notice where these themes and meanings arise, how they impact your life and how you respond. We may even notice how these themes and meanings can creep into our relationship – which is great because if they are alive between us we can work with them in real time. I will also focus the session on drawing in themes and ideas from other sessions so that we can start to put the pieces together.
What kind of commitment do I need to make?
Psychotherapy is an ongoing, regular process that involves the development of a solid therapeutic relationship. In order to develop the trusting relationship necessary to do this work it is important that we meet with regular frequency, on an ongoing basis. Once we have established that we will work together, I would suggest making a commitment to the frequency and times of the sessions. Psychotherapy is more effective when the sessions are regularly attended.
How much will I be expected to reveal?
This is your choice. We will go at your pace, in your time. At first, you may not feel comfortable sharing some parts of your story or experience. Over time, as trust develops between us, you may feel more comfortable revealing more of yourself – your feelings and vulnerabilities. The more open you can be, the more potential there is for learning and growth. I will help you to slow the story down so that we can pay close attention to the details that you may not have previously considered. The details often tell us a great deal and can make a big difference to how we understand what is going on for you.
Why is it important to understand your early experiences?
Your early experiences created many of the beliefs and perspectives underpinning the events happening in your life now. At one time they made sense and they served you well, as a means of surviving, coping or thriving. However, in the course of living, you may have created coping strategies, and have formed defenses, that may not serve you now. Nevertheless, you may be acting out the same behaviours in your life now, without realizing it, because it feels familiar and safe. In fact, you may feel that your patterns are no longer serving you, that you’ve outgrown them, and they are hindering your growth. By revisiting the past you can see the same experience with a new perspective and can choose to move forward differently – in a way that now supports you. The old energy and the emotion associated with the past that you carry with you can be released and transformed.
How will I know if therapy is working?
If you feel heard, understood and supported during our work together, therapy is off to a good start. If you are gaining new insights about yourself and your relationships, this can be an indication that you are on the right track. If you find yourself leaving therapy sessions going over the material we have discussed and feeling like someone is really starting to “get” you, chances are therapy is being helpful.
If you are noticing that you are starting to become more aware of the themes in your life as they emerge and you are consciously trying out different responses that feel more authentic and have different outcomes, the benefits of therapy are making their way into your life. If you are getting in touch with and noticing feelings and sensations in your body that you didn’t pay attention to before, as well as making sense of confusing emotions and body feelings, and beginning to express what you notice about yourself to others, therapy is doing what it is meant to do.
If life doesn’t seem as daunting, and you feel more able to handle the unpredictability of life, therapy is helping. The goal of therapy is to help you to feel more in touch with your body, thoughts and heart, more satisfied in your life, more equipped to handle life’s challenges, more centered and balanced within yourself, more aware of yourself and your emotional and physical health, and how you feel in your relationships and in the world.