“Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness” - Peter Levine
Unresolved trauma can intrude in our everyday lives through:
- Intrusive memories, nightmares, and flashbacks
- Triggers and emotional distress with exposure to traumatic reminders
- Avoidance of triggering situations
This can result in:
- Negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
- Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
- Feeling isolated and inability to engage in life fully
Your body's response to past events is normal and appropriate - it has likely kept you safe and functional in the past.
As you develop awareness and recognise past patterns of response, you can choose new actions to help you thrive in your current life.
"First comes awareness, then comes choice"
Your First Session
These sessions are all about creating safety, based on the principles of "trauma-informed care". I recognise safety at 3 levels:
- That nothing bad is going to happen to you (literal safety),
- That you feel safe (cognitive / psychological safety), and most importantly
- That your body feels safe (physiological safety). This "visceral sense" or "felt sense" of safety is transformative.
First we talk. I will listen to you and start to understand your emotional realities. We will develop a shared understanding of why you are here and how we can maintain a safe and comfortable space for you. We explore ways of communicating so you have a strong sense of ownership and agency throughout the process. I like to continue until we feel very much "in sync".
Everything else springs from what we have learned about your needs. It's likely you will sit or lie down for a relaxation exercise and guided meditation, exploring safe and pleasant sensations in your body, maybe including minimal reassuring touch. The meditation guides you towards a warm appreciation of your own body, unconditional self-love, and permission for you and your body to express themselves any way they choose.
Beyond this point we follow the natural unfolding of the process. This is where the magic happens, and it's different every time. The process helps you to join the dots between your personal challenges, the conversation, sensations in the body, old memories, and emotions. You can understand why you feel what you feel.
Near the end of the session, I will remind you of the insights you gained through the process, and affirm the qualities I recognise in you. I find that people are able to receive these affirmations deeply, because of their relaxed state and sense of safety.
Deep respect to you for considering this journey to a more vibrant life.
“ Every human being deserves to feel safe, free to express themselves, sovereign in their own body, and able to make confident choices in life”
This is my foundation, the four pillars of my practice. I penned the words the day I chose this path as a healer, and I have never understood why anyone would not honour these basic human rights. It saddens me that in schools, workplaces - even in families and intimate relationships - people do not have this sanctuary.
For as long as I can remember, I have wished for a safer world for all. I struggled in earlier years to be accepted because wouldn't play the macho role expected of me. But I learned to be my own person.
Establishing this practice has been my way to align my values, my interests, my heart, and my gut, to live the way I choose. I have never felt so good in my own skin. This is who I am, this is what I do, this is my life.
This work relevant to anyone seeking personal insight, growth, balance, or resilience. It is likely the therapy of choice if emotion plays a big role in your life - either as a source of vitality and inspiration, or of struggle.
This page specifically refers to feeling safe in the world. The need for safety is often born of a difficult childhood, social, physical, sexual, or emotional trauma, bullying, deceit, violation of trust, and controlling relationships.
You will need to do some work to "feel and heal", but if you want to change your emotions - to feel more vibrant, more stable, more aligned, more trusting, more anything - you will likely find value in the work.
Drop any idea of being "in therapy" for years. Embodied interventions tend to be short, and I want each session to bring meaningful change. The session time tends to create personal insights and new perspectives, which unfold in the week ahead. For a time, it will raise more questions than answers, so I would usually recommend a series of at least 3 sessions, no more than 8 in a stretch.
Often people seek help when they feel in crisis, and quickly feel the pressure is off... the crisis has been averted. I strongly recommend further sessions to consolidate the changes you have made. That way, you can make some small tweaks in your life and feel more resilient for your future.
Trauma is a distressing experience that overwhelms our ability to cope.
It's not the severity of the event that does the damage so much as the level of overwhelm. Never compare your trauma to someone else's. If you felt overwhelmed, your body carries a sense of "mortal danger" and the world feels unsafe, period.
Even mild overwhelm can leave a scar if it happens early in life, or over a prolonged period. These experiences have been labeled developmental trauma and complex trauma respectively - they tend to have a deeper impact and require more patience and understanding to resolve.
The "embodied emotional therapy" I offer is inspired by the work of Peter Levine. We create a "lived experience" of rising above the event(s) - e.g. seeing options where you could see none, speaking out where you were frozen and silent, or holding eye contact where you hid your face. In light of these new experiences, you can recall past events without the feeling of overwhelm... without trauma.
The effects of trauma are not logical, and they are not primarily the result of explicit memories. We can have feelings of existential threat without literal memories, which makes a cognitive understanding difficult. But that's not the only way to understand, and not the only way to heal.
Embodied emotional therapy is what we call a "bottom up" therapy. Through the work we can keep our physiology calm while experiencing thoughts and memories that would usually be distressing. So the trigger is no longer triggering, a scary memory or experience is no longer scary.
Yes, we can heal trauma we don't remember, and we can heal trauma without digging up stories of the past.
There are two distinct ways of addressing difficult life challenges. The top down approach (most talk therapy) is to hear the story and the meaning we have layered upon it, recognise the underlying belief, challenge and discredit distorted beliefs, behave differently, and feel ok again.
Embodied emotional therapy is a bottom up therapy, based on the idea of bodymind. How we feel within our bodies has a huge influence on how we think - “my heart is racing, therefore I feel afraid”. And our thoughts influence our bodies - like the sinking feeling in your gut when you realise you have missed an appointment.
The magic of this work is that body sensations give us insight into our emotions.
- Becoming comfortable with the sensations can bring emotional healing.
- Feeling sensation in numb areas can restore vitality.
- And calming our physiological state can make the world a safe place again.
Bottom up therapies tend to bring flashes of insight. The mind can quickly join the dots between a sensation, an emotion, a forgotten memory, and an unfulfilled need. We can understand and heal the ever-repeating story that had us stuck.
There is nothing worse than living in a state of constant threat. It can overwhelm our emotions, make us sick, and reduce our life span. But it is our physiology that is killing us, not necessarily the danger that surrounds us.
In “fight or flight” our brain is changed. We are primed to see danger, we act instinctively without impulse control, the logic of our prefrontal cortex is shut down, and we can't tell the difference between a safe situation and a dangerous one.
Embodied emotional therapy can help us claim our birthright of feeling safe, even when danger is close at hand. As we learn to maintain calm physiology, we make better decisions, we have a more accurate sense of safety and danger, and we can maintain better relationships with the people who support us.
The strong intention with this work is to create an island of safety and gradually extend it out into your world. The best way is to show deep kindness and patience with yourself, and communicate your feelings as they arise so I can help you find a place of deep safety in-session.
Beforehand, try noticing any small thing that helps you feel lighter, or brings comfort. I don't recommend challenging yourself, trying to figure things out, or pushing to achieve something. Give yourself a wee holiday beforehand and the session work will flow more easily.
Or keep the door open
Access resources to keep your life on track