Many issues impacting emotional well-being result from continuous repression of traumatic or harmful memories, which are held in the body. Together we can locate where traumas and contractions are held within the body, and gently begin to unwind them “from the inside out”, releasing long-held tension from within. Through interweaving somatic approaches with other modalities of psychotherapy, and teaching and empowering clients how to do this for themselves, individuals learn to integrate this practice into their own lives and report significant changes in their ability to self-regulate their emotions and nervous systems.
Energy stored in and released from the body plays an important role in how people carry themselves, experience and heal from pain, and interact with the world. Often, traumatic experiences can create energy build-up, or blockages, that lead to physical and mental health concerns. Working with the premise that memories can actually be stored within the body, I believe that some traumatic memories and their associated physical and psychological symptoms cannot be processed through talk therapy alone, but can often be released through somatically oriented psychotherapeutic techniques.
Some of the trauma-informed methods I use:
The Somatic Experiencing® method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It offfers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. The SE approach releases traumatic shock which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
The SE approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
Internal Family Systems:
IFS sees consciousness as composed of three types of sub-personalities or parts: managers, exiles, and firefighters. Each individual part has its own perspective, interests, memories, and viewpoint. A core tenet of IFS is that every part has a positive intent for the person, even if its actions or effects are counterproductive or cause dysfunction. This means that there is never any reason to fight with, coerce, or try to eliminate a part; the IFS method promotes internal connection and harmony.
IFS also sees people as being whole, underneath this collection of parts. Everyone has a true self or spiritual center, known as the Self to distinguish it from the parts. Even people whose experience is dominated by parts have access to this Self and its healing qualities of curiosity, connectedness, compassion, and calmness. IFS sees the therapist's job as helping the client to disentangle themselves from their parts and access the Self, which can then connect with each part and heal it, so that the parts can let go of their destructive roles and enter into a harmonious collaboration, led by the Self. IFS explicitly recognizes the spiritual nature of the Self, allowing the model to be helpful in spiritual development as well as psychological healing.
The Hakomi Method combines Western psychology, systems theory, and body-centered techniques with the principles of mindfulness and nonviolence drawn from Eastern philosophy.
The Hakomi Method regards people as self-organizing systems, organized psychologically around core memories, beliefs and images; this core material expresses itself through habits and attitudes that tend to guide people unconsciously. Hakomi is a method for helping people discover and recognize these patterns. The goal is to transform their way of being in the world through working with core material and changing core beliefs.
Hakomi relies on mindfulness of body sensations, emotions and memories. Although many therapists now recommend mindfulness meditation to support psychotherapy, Hakomi is unique in that it conducts the majority of the therapy session in mindfulness.