Frequently Asked Questions
What is Somatic Psychotherapy ?
Somatic is now a popular buzzword that is being applied to just about every healing modality in the marketplace these days. This is, in part, due to the fact that people are re-discovering the intuitive truth that the body is an integral part of healing. It's no coincidence that trauma research pioneer Bessel van der Kolk's "Body Keeps the Score" has been on the NYT best seller list for 77 weeks (and counting).
While classic "talk therapy" approaches focuses on examining thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to elicit change and growth, those approaches leave out the most influential drivers of healing and transformation - the body. Somatic psychotherapy places emphasis very much on the experiencing part of things. You can talk about your experiences and the past - it'll make sense, it might be a little interesting, you might gain some insight - but really they are just ideas until you feel it in your body and you kind of get a sense of how it works inside. Just a moment or two of tuning in to what we're experiencing in the body gives us a direct relationship to how response is actually occurring in our body. Research now understands that instinctual gut responses informs the brain, and thus those gut feelings and responses will inform thoughts, behaviors and perceptions. By becoming familiar with how body responses drive behavior we can begin to effect change at the roots of response, not nearly at the thinking mind's interpretation of those responses.
What the heck is trauma, anyway?
Think : Too much, too fast, no metabolizing. Knowing (or sometimes not aware that) you experienced too much overwhelm at the time to digest an experience, repeated experiences, or barrage of experiences.
Trauma is commonly thought of as a big "catastrophic" event that can leave someone de-stabilized in their internal states, emotions, and behaviors. While this is true, more often the source of trauma is the culamative effect of little non-digested events that have added up to the point where now they are hard to manage or don't go away anymore.
These trauma symptoms can present in a wide range of experiences and include : irritability, trouble focusing, insomnia, relationship challenges, jitteriness/restlessness, more anger than "usual", reckless behavior, binge behaviors, heightened fear reactions, excessive drugs and alcohol use, memory issues, obsessive replaying of the past, migraines, auto immune disorders...the list goes on.
The important thing to know is, whatever the trauma is, it has a common effect on our physiology. Whatever the cause of the trauma, the main thing to learn is the way to move though how it’s become stuck in the body. And that’s the same with virtually all trauma - independent of the cause.
Does trauma therapy mean I have to re-experience my trauma?
Modern trauma research has shown that overwhelming a person in trauma re-enactment has limited, if any, positive outcomes. Cathartic approaches may lead to desensitization and numbing, but they do not lead to integration: an organic awareness that the event is over, and that you are fully alive in the present.
What has been proven effective is a persons experience with a real sense of safety, support, and connection. From there the conditions will be better suited to working with stressful material in a way that doesn’t overwhelm and cause nervous system shutdown. This allows for more bite-sized digestion and release of traumatic material.
For each of us the mastery of trauma is a heroic journey, a journey that has times of creative brilliance, profound learning and insight, and just periods of hard, tedious work. It's a process of finding for ourselves a safe and a gentle way to come out of our stuckness and .
What is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented therapeutic model applied in multiple professions and professional settings for healing trauma and other stress disorders. It aims to resolve symptoms of stress, shock, and trauma that accumulate in our bodies.
S.E. has been clinically applied for more than four decades, and is the foundational framework from which many other somatic trauma oriented treatment modalities draw from. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine.
Below is a link to a beautiful video describing the essence of the approach:
What if I don't want to talk about something?
Any time we turn and take an honest look at ourselves, it can have powerful results.
Courage to look at things that might not be easy to face in oneself and one's life. Paradoxically it is of utmost importance that I honor you and where you are, moment-to-moment in each session. This means me paying close attention to your moment to moment experiencing, and honoring your boundaries and resistances when they arise. We will form a collaborative relationship in which we will stretch a little out of your comfort zone at times, and at other times honoring your boundaries and capacities.
Any skillful therapist will be continually aware of verbal and other cues that are communicating what feels safe and what feels beyond what is comfortable to be shared. I may, at times, guide and encourage you to stretch into moments of fear and uncomfortable-ness. This is done with care and flexibility. It is not about heroically breaking though as much as it is getting care and support in being with your moment to moment experiencing. Being "stretched" in this way will increase your capacity to handle stress and will also allow for old patterns to be dropped. From there you can gain choice in how you act, live, and love.
How should I show up to therapy?
Whatever you can do and how it works for you that helps you be present. I recommend giving yourself 15min after you arrive and after the session is over to prepare and integrate. Therapy is not cheap, and we’re working on the operating system that runs your life. If you treat that will care and respect the process you will get a lot more out of it.
How often should I come to therapy?
The key here is as often as you need to keep the process active in you. If less than once a week, the catching up, the remembering what we did last session, getting back to the place we were before. If we’re really trying to get somewhere (and not just maintain at the place we were before) we must be moving in that direction in regular intervals.
What are your fees?
My rate are $125 per full 60-minute session. I work both in-person and via telehelath.
Payments are required at the time of each session. I take cash, credit cards, and various forms of online payment. I do not take insurance, and I do have limited availability for a sliding scale reduced fee.
What's the first step in getting started?
The first step in getting started is to arrange a 20-minute phone or in person intro session where I can learn a little about what has you seeking therapy and explaining to you how I think I may be able to help. It's an important time to get an initial sense of whether working with me might be a good fit for you. To this point, I would suggest paying attention to how you feel right now as you're reading my website, and even notice how you feel in dialing the phone to call. Trust your gut!