We heal, together. In relationship and in community.
Access deep body wisdom.
Connect deeply to yourself.
“…and I said to my body softly – I want to be with you – I want to be your friend. It took a long breath and replied – I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”
Trauma-Informed Somatic Practice is the whole-person focused treatment of somatic symptoms related to trauma – with an embodied relational somatic approach. Sessions are an invitation to learn about yourself, your body and your traumatic chronic stress patterns – and with permission, sometimes sessions include touch. This is an opportunity to discover deep aspects of your nervous system and physiology – and how your body functions are related to your emotions and moods – and to develop an awareness of the roots of your physical and emotional concerns and more familiarity with your inner life. A powerful connection exists between the mind and the body. For every feeling or thought, there is a corresponding reaction from the body. When an individual experiences trauma in any form, it can create physical symptoms that also require attention.
Trauma shows up in our bodies as chronic pain or chronic illness – as chronically constricted tissue, a shrinking and bracing of the overall structure, a tight diaphragm and shallow breathing, cold hands and feet, and tension at the base of the skull and at the sacrum (the lower back – bottom of the spine). Our bodies become tight because we are caught in a pattern of alarm, defensive body holding patterns and self-protection, with the systems of the body and brain stuck on high alert. All of the stacked up energy left over from the trauma – disorganizes the nervous system and how we process information – with emotional and physical side effects.
Somatic Inquiry is a curiosity about the feelings and sensations that are showing up in your body. The body-mind is an integrated energy system. Tap in to the wisdom of your body. Our experience of any event in our lives must come through the sensory systems that move through our body – a pulsing network of nerves – and finally registering in the mind. Trauma lives on in the cells of the body. Healthy functioning is a physical as well as emotional experience – and if we struggle in any part of the body-mind continuum – our whole bodily system is effected.
This work allows you to pay attention to your body in a way that integrates the nervous system, mind and heart into healing from relational trauma, chronic defensive patterns and automatic stress responses.
We work with the wisdom of the body and the nervous system, not just the understanding of the mind, to shift what is no longer serving you and understand what you need to create new healing strategies for growth. This is time to focus on your body and to notice and heal from critical self-talk and judgment of your body and yourself.
Somatic Inquiry views the ways that you have survived until now as adaptive and intelligent – understanding how your past has shaped you, and how with ongoing support, you can gain a new awareness of your feelings and symptoms – and over time, you can develop a new sense of ease within yourself.
Healing Trauma with Somatic Experiencing (SE)
Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy is a holistic, body-oriented approach that focuses on recognizing and releasing physical tension in the body. This process helps the body release trauma and restore itself to a state of wholeness. Developed by Dr. Peter A. Levine, PhD, (SE) is intended to relieve symptoms of trauma, early developmental trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through the experience of being with body sensations.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) believes that trauma symptoms are the effects of instability of our autonomic nervous system (ANS). (SE) allows us to release buried emotions caused by trauma, providing healing from inside out. (SE) can also be used to heal from other trauma-related symptoms, and chronic stress patterns, anxiety, depression, addiction, relationship breakdowns and disordered eating.
When we’ve experienced early developmental trauma or a traumatic event like an accident, the death of a loved one, a divorce or a relationship breakdown, we are unable to fully process what happened both on a conscious and subconscious level, and we find ourselves trapped in the shock of the traumatic event.
Body-focused sessions allow us to get out of the story of the experience and to renegotiate painful memories and experiences that got ‘stuck’ in our physiology, interrupting the cycle of negative, dysfunctional thought patterns that induce feelings of shame, guilt, sadness and worthlessness. Renegotiating the overwhelming experiences that are at the core of every traumatic experience, you will develop more compassion and kindness towards yourself and your inner experience.
We go slowly, at a pace that feels safe and right for you. You will develop new awareness of the sensations in your body – using body awareness techniques, mindful movement, subtle patterning, and breath patterns. There can be a slow release of energy – releasing energy that has been bound up in you, and evolving the consciousness of the felt sense of the trauma.
During a Somatic Experiencing (SE) session you will focus on the sensations, images, behaviour, memories and feelings that arise about a particular event or situation. You will become aware of your emotional and physical responses to trauma and recognize your fight, flight or freeze response(s). You will learn to develop an increasing tolerance to challenging somatic sensations and repressed emotions – restoring your self-esteem, energy and resilience, and begin to feel connected with themselves and other people again.
Helping create greater ease in the mind and body, Somatic Experiencing (SE) and a body-focused approach, helps with chronic patterns of anxiety, depression, stress, addictions, disordered eating and stressful relationships. You will regain the ability to regulate your emotions and shift your behaviour patterns at the root – from your body, at the level of the nervous system.
Embodied Relational Therapy is an integrative approach combining gentle movement, humanistic & somatic psychology, unconscious relational themes, attachment patterns, and touch energy work. Sessions focus on paying attention to symptoms in your body – noticing the emotional roots of your concern – while noticing longstanding relational patterns – with a heart-centered focus on healing the emotional body and the mind-body-emotion connection by working through such issues as anxiety, depression, trauma and stress.
This is an integrated experience for your body, mind and heart that is focused on habits, patterns, symptoms and the emotional roots of your concerns.
Your nervous system has an innate ability to be in balance and flow. To heal from depression, anxiety, stress or chronic pain & illness.
Together, you can learn and practice and cultivate embodied, emotional & physical well-being & be in the flow of your life.
In certain circumstances, psychotherapy (even body-oriented) is unable to address specific symptoms related to stress, shock trauma, and attachment or relational trauma. Touch can be used to support containment and regulation of physical or emotional dysregulation or activation; to process early developmental (pre-verbal) trauma that can’t be processed with language.
During touch work, you will have increased awareness of different areas of the body, and explore how one enters or leaves relationships, settle anxiety or stress responses – and support the softening or unclenching of areas that are bracing, tense or armoured – to help the body to unwind out of chronically-held stress or to mobilize a self-protective response to renegotiate a past experience. This work helps achieve physiological completion. Touch involves bringing support to an area through one’s intention (no physical contact) or through actual contact. Touch work is not massage therapy, manual therapy, or physical rehabilitation. No manipulation of tissues is involved. Touch is through contact and attention alone.
Using touch in the context of psychotherapy, whether seated or on a massage table, is only done with your full consent and right to self-determination. Working with apprehension/anxiety/fear/bracing surrounding touch is important to address before any actual physical touch can occur and is an important part of the healing process.
Trauma Touch Therapy works to integrate to pieces of us that have been effected by trauma. It provides a slow application of touch that helps bring each client back to themselves – to take residence, if you will, back in their bodies. The work is led by the needs of the client, actually asking them to think through their own somatic needs:
Where is the pain? Where is the tension? What does it feel like? Is it okay to touch? Trauma Touch Therapy is a process of integration – done on a massage table, in a chair or position most comfortable for each client.
When working with Trauma Touch Therapy – it most helpful if clients are also in active psychotherapy, and many people are referred via health care referrals. Separate psychotherapy and bodywork sessions keep the two aspects of this somatic work distinct.
Within this integrated approach – Trauma Touch work helps bring emotions and wounds to the surface, and during psychotherapy sessions, I can help you find meaning and deep understanding.
When people come to see me, it’s usually for one of three reasons:
- They may or may not know they have experienced some kind of trauma and feel that it is getting in the way of living the kind of life they want. It’s often some kind of developmental trauma where there was an early environment that was less than supportive. Sometimes it’s what we would call “shock trauma,” where there was an event that was really overwhelming.
- Symptoms like anxiety, depression or anger are interfering with work, relationships and their ability to enjoy life. Often, they have tried other kinds of therapy and medication, but felt they never really got to the root of the problem.
- A health care professional referred them to me to help with the physical/physiological aspects of the nervous system that have gotten dysregulated.
Do any of those reasons sound like your experience?
When someone comes to see me, it’s a lot like going on a journey together. First, we learn the terrain, and then we find a way through. We ultimately want to find a path that seems clear enough and safe enough to explore together.
The terrain is both familiar and new at the same time. As your guide, I look for familiar landmarks, while treading lightly and with curiosity into areas that are unique in your system. The wisdom of your system is the true guide. Our real job is to get out of its way and support it in doing what it wants to do most: to heal.
What I really need to know is:
- How does your nervous system organize itself around stress?
- How have you and your nervous system managed to get through that stress?
- What signs of health and capacity can we see?
Anxiety, depression and trauma keep you out of present moment awareness. Present moment awareness is body-based, not in our thoughts – learning how to be present means learning how to engage in the felt sense of your body.
Why Focus on the Present Moment?
It is acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations in the present moment – has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression – When you are with what’s happening now, you aren’t thinking about the past or the future – worrying or ruminating.
What to Expect
Explore your present moment awareness through various embodied relational practices. – We will sit, stand, move, connect and share together. Simple effective practices to support your daily life.
You will experience your body as it is – without resistance – and new awareness will arise within you – you will soften and relax, release chronic pain, allow for body acceptance and a deep understanding of what’s happening in your body.
You can choose how we work together:
- In a chair – sessions can address emotional struggles, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, eating concerns, and relationship conflicts, and be supportive during life transitions. I use a variety of methods, including verbal dialogue, Relational Psychotherapy, Integrated Body Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Embodied Mindfulness and somatic practices. (in-person or via Skype)
- On a table– sessions are a hands-on form based on body-systems work, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma Touch and somatic movement therapy. Sessions can address chronic pain, chronic defensive & holding patterns in the body that cause excessive tension, injury recovery, energy system imbalances and emotional blocks.
We will go at your pace, in your time – this is an opportunity for you to be present, find clarity, and deepen awareness about how you relate to yourself, your relationships, and your life, therefore allowing for empowered and meaningful change in beliefs and behaviours that keep us stuck in unhealthy patterns.
You will come back to your body to become aware of areas in your body and mind that feel stuck, numb, painful or chronic – and have an opportunity to release what you’ve been holding on to, that may no longer be serving you. You can release the mental and emotional habits that may be blocking your flow of aliveness.
We shift attention from ‘thinking’ to ‘awareness’ and ‘noticing’ what’s happening in the here & now. By getting out of the perpetual cycle of rumination, racing thoughts & worry – and into our bodies in the moment, we live more authentic, empowered lives.
Here are some benefits that clients have reported:
- New body awareness – and a feeling of ease in the body and mind
- An awareness of how stored trauma, unresolved emotion, chronic pain and self-limiting beliefs impact your current choices, behaviours, and relationships
- Exploration of your internal relationships with your body, thoughts, and feelings
- Creation of a positive and healthy relationship with yourself, your body and with others
- Cultivation of acceptance of your body – sometimes for the first time
- Alleviation of chronic body pain caused by chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia
- Connection to your inner resources of self-awareness and embodied mindfulness & a renewed connection to your inner-wisdom and to the intellect of your body
- Awareness, acceptance, profound presence and compassion for self and others – sustained feelings in your body, long after our time together
- You are never more than one feeling away from a completely new experience of being alive – a new experience of aliveness awaits you
Each moment offers a new reality
a new experience, to make everything alive and full.
I feel how it affects me when I’m only in my head, with my thoughts,
and when I really feel into my tissues, my nerves, my bones.
When I am really sensitive from moment to moment to moment.
I live a completely different life.