About This Work
A felt sense of safety, spontaneity and presence in the here and now is the goal. Through kind and attuned deep listening, reflection and coaching, I help folks establish easeful attentional control and openness to healthy human pleasure and enjoyment. This impacts every part of life, from our general state to our behaviors and relationships.
For so many of us these days, it is attention itself that is hijacked. We are unable to focus on one thing at a time, find it difficult to settle down, and find ourselves chronically feeling and thinking about what is wrong, scary or upsetting. From a nervous system perspective, we understand this to be a physiological experience, and one we can work with. The human nervous system is "self-reinforcing", which means that our symptoms, addictive behaviors and somatic (body-based) experiences have the primary goal of ensuring our survival and stability, even if that stability keeps us feeling stagnant, or suffering. For folks with a history of physically or emotionally unsafe environments and relationships, this stability was a necessity, but we are grown now, and we want to keep growing! How do we support the systemic change we're looking for? This is where good support, knowledge of the nervous system and a positive reinforcement paradigm comes in.
When we see the world through the lens of our overwhelming and negative experiences, it deeply affects how we are able to live our lives and the possibilities we sense for the future. Not only is the world we live in actually challenging and stressful, but we are dealing with a backlog. The first thing we can do is normalize this and give each other permission to let go of the deep shame associated with not feeling good. The second thing we can do is get caring support that opens the brainstem to new and more positive experiences. A foundational practice in this process is called orienting, which means connecting to the environment through the senses. Connecting to the environment through the senses may sound simple, but you'd be surprised how impactful this practice is.
In the Organic Intelligence model we track the guidance and resources that come from the body. And, we take care to become reacquainted with our bodies and sensations in a way that is routed through simple human pleasure and a reconnection to what feels good! We know that positive reinforcement is most effective, so we reinforce what is working already: what is empowering, what is resourcing and integrating. In this model there is no need to "push through resistance" or force change.
Orientation and expanding our capacity for pleasure lay the groundwork for processing safe waves or "thresholds" of activation in the nervous system, which is our backlog of self-protective energy from past experiences. This has the dual purpose of thawing the freeze response and growing a greater flexibility in response to the circumstances of life. This is the kind of resiliency we're after- that of an "auto-organizing" nervous system that requires little to no effort to manage or control. Can you imagine just being able to "be"?
Many people find it is difficult to feel much at all, and a dullness, emptiness or lack of energy dominates their life. This is a function of the freeze response. In this case we use the same principles, with further work with the physiological states that underlie shut down. Please know that this experience is not your fault.
My practice includes work with the self-protective responses of fight, flight, fawn and freeze. These responses are designed to be short-lived, not to last forever and run the show from under the surface, interfering with a healthy, happy life.
There are many experiences that point to stress and disregulation in the nervous system. Some of these are strong emotional triggers, feeling unable to come down from stress on one's own, a pronounced startle response or general jumpiness, depression, social anxiety, fear, feeling manic, intrusive imagery, sensations or thoughts, hypervigilence, outbursts, addictive behavior, chronic physical illness, digestive issues and insomnia. I offer somatic coaching based in principles from the Somatic Experiencing and Organic Intelligence clinical protocols combined with my own professional background in bodywork, meditation and facilitation. This is not the same nor a replacement for work with a psychotherapist, and I refer clients and contacts to other professionals when appropriate.
What is it like to work together?
Please visit the Schedule page to set up a free consultation for us to connect and get to know each other. I work with folks both longterm who are looking to receive deep ongoing support, and I work with folks who would like more short term and/or sporadic support. Many clients choose a recurring weekly or biweekly appointment, while others find the most freedom in autonomy and schedule sessions one or two at a time.
My sessions are based in what we call "a free association conversation", where we talk, connect and explore sensations, emotions, imagery and sensory mindfulness. This free association conversation is sometimes totally organic and other times may include guided practice and/or suggestions for practices and resources outside of sessions. Some folks have a wealth of things to share right off the bat, and there is plenty of time and space to do so. Others feel best when there is a bit more structure and guidance. The benefit of the work is equal for both totally spontaneous sessions as well as sessions based in more shaping and guidance, because everyone is different and the foundational principles and skills I use are the same across the board.
My practice is rooted in an orientation toward justice, cultural humility and a reverence for the study of complex systems. I am proud to be part of a new culture in the healing arts that acknowledges how deeply we are shaped by systems, both positive and violent/oppressive, from our family systems, cultural systems, political and ecological systems, all the way down to the systems inside our own bodies.