I believe we begin life in a state of wholeness, and are innately oriented toward growth, but inevitably encounter experiences such as physical or emotional stress or trauma, or simply not getting our needs adequately met, that divert the natural process of development. Our human adaptability affords us ways of coping with these circumstances that work for us initially, but that may become restrictive later, particularly as our sense of identity solidifies. Eventually, we may feel stuck, caught in patterns of thinking, behaving, or relating that no longer serve us. We may notice we are not "showing up" fully in our lives and in our relationships. Something in us longs for more, but we are at a loss as to how to move forward.
Traditional cultures tended to share in the process of nurturing the next generation, to value the unique contributions of all members, and to support each in identifying and developing their gifts fully. Modern Western culture, in contrast, has relegated many of these processes to institutions, if they exist at all. We are left to rely too heavily on the nuclear family, and later (for some) on marriage, neither of which can reasonably be expected to fulfill all these functions. Further, many aspects of modern culture not only fail to support us, but actually work against our sense of wholeness - valuing competition and narrow definitions of success over a deeper, broader, and more interconnected view of wellbeing. As a result, even those of us blessed to be raised by well-resourced and highly responsive caregivers are inevitably met with moments in which our essential nature is neglected, suppressed, or even shamed.
Psychotherapy is one modest yet often powerful form of support modern culture offers to help individuals cultivate inner resilience, rediscover their innate wholeness, and restore a sense of clarity and purpose. While broader cultural change is ultimately needed to support these qualities, I believe psychotherapy and other forms of inner and interpersonal work can help us to embody "the change we wish to see in the world."
The Body Knows
Over the years I have become fascinated by how the body records life experience, particularly early (preverbal) experiences of not having been met with unconditional acceptance. The maladaptive patterns that often result tend to occur automatically, below the level of conscious awareness, making them particularly challenging to access with traditional talk-based therapeutic approaches. And in daily life, we tend to avoid allowing ourselves to feel the vague sense of discomfort or unease that lies just beneath the surface, or the sometimes intense emotional reactions that can seem to arise out of nowhere; it is far easier to distract ourselves, stay busy, or reach for substitute comforts -- food, shopping, alcohol, etc.
This is where somatic therapy really shines. The body-based, experiential techniques I incorporate are uniquely suited to accessing the "stories" held in the body, so that challenging patterns can unfold and shift. My job as a therapist is to create a supportive and accepting space in which you, too, can allow and even welcome your direct, bodily felt experience. Core beliefs and response patterns encoded in the more primitive structures of the nervous system can then be integrated into consciousness, and the life energy that has essentially been trapped there can carry forward. Together we will access and cultivate an inner compass that you can use long after therapy, even as the terrain of life keeps changing.
My work draws upon a variety of sources, including Focusing, the NeuroAffective Relational Model, Buddhist psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, Non-Violent Communication, Somatic Experiencing, Whole Body Focusing, and other somatic approaches.
Contact me with your questions, to schedule an appointment, or to discuss how the therapeutic services I offer might support you in meeting your goals.
View my profile on Psychology Today.
"Far too often our conceptual minds create constructs -- ideas built with words -- that are disconnected from our lived reality... Accessing the body's more holistic knowing can bring us back into accurate relationship with our life situations."
- David Rome, Your Body Knows the Answer
Psychotherapy can support you in addressing:
feeling "stuck," held back, or stagnant in life/relationships
body image issues
coping with chronic illness
grappling with a sense of purpose & meaning
a sense of not fully inhabiting your life or your body