One day I received a call from a woman named Beth. She was looking for a therapist who could help her recover.
Her voice broke on the phone as she explained that she had had to flee her home a year ago. She had been through a tumultuous divorce where she had lost everything including her sense of self.
We agreed to meet for a first appointment.
During our first session, she was tearful and scared and had trouble staying in her body as she related the events that had led up to today. She also talked of her history in the arts and some good supportive friends who had guided her to my office today.
It was clear that she needed help to stay in her body while we spoke of challenging events. Teaching a person to stay in her body and become present and embodied gives the person who is anxious, depressed, or traumatized power over their symptoms. And it eventually it becomes a doorway into healing their trauma.
I explained to Beth that I thought it was best if she could attend sessions twice a week so we could build up her resources and help her recover some of her resiliency. I could hear there was an extensive history of trauma that we would need to address, but Beth had already suffered a year or more of under functioning.
She needed to learn how to explore her early and current trauma without leaving her body or slipping into an overwhelmed state where she couldn’t connect so she would not feel so alone and isolated.
I began by teaching her grounding exercises, which she enjoyed because they reminded her of exercises she had done in yoga and theater classes. We moved on to teaching her body awareness exercises and how to listen to what sensations her body was showing her. Whenever she began to get overwhelmed we took a walk or played catch or found her grounding through her feet.
By the end of the month, her face and jaw had eased and she was able to take deeper breaths. If she became terrified, she was able to pause and get me to help her slow down and come back into her center.
From Beth being in a centered place, I was able to get a clearer sense of her history and better able to ally with Beth when she most needed guidance, support, empathy and/or action to clear traumatic memories.
As Beth became more settled, she was able to use these calming and regulating tools herself at home and in our sessions.
Now it was time to work on the underlying issues. Slowly and thoroughly we looked at events that triggered Beth to oppress and allow suppression of her natural talents, passion, and interests. As her health improved and her body began to recover its natural levels of energy and aliveness, she was motivated to clear out anything in the way of moving forward in her life.
We went through much of her history making sense of it in way that Beth could begin to assimilate its lessons and lay the past to rest.
Some things couldn’t rest and required action.
There were many repairs to do with her children, and as Beth became stronger she was able to talk with them without melting down into massive feelings of guilt and shame. This allowed her to listen to them in new ways and there were many surprises along the way.
She was able to bring all these “surprises” to our sessions and use the somatic body-mind techniques to stay with the material until she found her own truths.
From this place, she could formulate how she wanted to act such as sitting with something for longer, or by standing up for an injustice, or making a repair to for having missed a way she hurt someone.
Today, Beth’s body and mind are healthy and sharp. She is living with a partner who she loves and who respects and includes her in his dreams and life.
She is reunited with her children and is creating new art projects to help lift others out of oppression.
Before becoming a movement therapist and psychotherapist, I was a professional dancer, choreographer, and theater artist who founded a dance company and directed a yoga and bodywork studio.
I am a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist with a specialty in development and Pre and Perinatal Birth Attachment Therapy. I also have a Master’s in Counseling Psychology.
I also specialize in attachment, birth, birth trauma, adoption, developmental, and prenatal and perinatal issues. I am passionate about supporting and working with individuals and families with children with special needs.