Body-centered psychotherapy (also: body-oriented psychotherapy, somatic psychotherapy, mind-body psychotherapy) incorporates physical awareness into traditional counseling methods. How we are in this world, how we relate to ourselves and others, is not just purely about our thoughts, but is also deeply rooted in our physicality. Unlike traditional talk therapy or cognitive therapy, body-centered psychotherapy tends to be more experiential, through sustained attention to the present “felt sense” experience. By getting in touch with our physical awareness, we gain access to memories, emotions, and beliefs that are otherwise beyond words and cognition.
Researchers and clinicians working at the mind-body frontier are learning exactly how thoughts and feelings are mirrored in the body and can be accessed through sensing into it. All of your experience from conception to this point in time is stored in the cells of your body. As we grow and develop and engage with the world, our somatic structures and systems (posture, muscle tone, breathing, heart rate, gaze, voice…) all organize in response to our environment and experiences. In each and every moment our bodies are expressing exactly who we are, not only in the present but also the reflections of our past experiences. My work is informed by such methods as Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor, Focusing, and most notably Hakomi. Cutting-edge somatic psychotherapeutic modalities such as these espouse the latest discoveries in neuroscience to facilitate your natural healing capacity.
As a body-centered psychotherapist, I pay close attention not only to what you say with words, but what the other parts of you are saying as well: your tone of voice, your gestures, your pace, your body tension or ease, your internal experience. These are all parts of you that can be brought to awareness and explored. Viewing the body as a resource for self-discovery and healing, I work with these states using the tools of mindfulness (focused, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment) and body awareness (application of mindfulness to physical sensations) to explore and shift habituated mental and emotional states. Focusing on your body’s present moment experience becomes a catalyst for tremendous healing.
Many of us have some level of discomfort, disconnection or wounding related to our physical self, making working with the body tricky or even scary. For this reason, I relate to your whole system with deep respect, care and gentleness. Your mind may feel ready to progress, but your system may need to move at a slower pace. In our sessions, we typically begin by talking, and with my gentle invitation, I may begin to guide you into sensing the body and incorporate it’s knowing into the conversation. Sometimes, the body does all the talking and the mind comes in later to begin to integrate the new information. My intention is to support you wherever you are in your exploration and to assist you in taking the steps towards something new. Cognitive and physical aspects of you are integrated, and you are able to deepen into a fuller, more whole self-awareness. Your insight expands, and from this place more meaningful and lasting change can occur.