Thanks to Bessel . . .
If you are not yet working with the felt sense and at the level of the body, please consider doing so. I stumbled onto to this way of working 25 years ago, born completely out of personal necessity and personal trauma, and I haven’t looked back.
Early in my training as a therapist in 1992, I started having bizarre pain and overwhelming emotions that seemed to come out of nowhere. It seemed that something was getting triggered in me, but I had no memory of any trauma in my childhood and nothing that I could attribute this to. It soon became clear that no amount of talk-therapy was going to help me get to the bottom of what was going on. Fortunately, the therapist I was working with at the time, was familiar with repressed memories and the mind-body-spirit connection. She eventually referred me to what were then considered fringe modalities – like Holotropic Breathwork and Hakomi.
I took to this kind of work like a fish to water and over time I became increasingly comfortable with allowing my body sensations and their accompanying primal feelings to surface - making a space for them in my body, staying with them and tracking them, adding my breath and sometimes movement, until they released.
One day, triggered by a phone conversation with my ex-husband, I knew I was ready to “remember” what happened to me and allowed my body to essentially re-enact a very early childhood trauma. While I had no visual memory of the trauma, and still don’t, I nevertheless let my body move through it to completion. (I was essentially doing Somatic Experiencing long before anybody knew what SE was)!
At that point I was hooked. I knew that I would dedicate my life to pursuing body-centered approaches that would help me clear out whatever was inside of me that was holding me back and help others do the same. (See video Trauma and the Body: Shelly's Story).
Feeling marginalized by and frustrated with the lack of recognition and support our profession was giving to this kind of work, I entered a life coach training program in 2005, hoping to feel freer without the heavy cloak of the medical model, which is, let’s face it, always lagging behind. (When I got EMDR training in 2004, it was considered “fringe” and as far as I knew, agencies scoffed at it and insurance companies would not pay for it).
Since then, I have been working quietly, doing my thing, letting myself be misunderstood as some kind of new-age witch doctor, when along comes Bessel Van Der Kolk with his research (which I’m a little late hearing about because frankly, research bores me and whatever news I get from the professional literature about this topic rarely seems like news to me).
But lo and behold it turns out, according to Bessel and some of my younger colleagues, I am doing evidence-based, trauma-informed counseling and coaching and have been doing so for the last 20-plus years. Who knew? Well, I didn’t. But thanks to Bessel, I feel vindicated and validated, knowing that despite the lack of recognition and support, I am on the right track and have been. (It’s a shame we need research to know what we know, but that’s another blog post entirely).
If you want to learn more about the felt sense, how emotional content is stored in the body, and how to access and release it, you don’t have to travel far and you don’t have to pay a fortune. Give me a call. Or better yet, come to the farm for a visit. The horses and I have lots to say on the topic.
Love to you all,
"Psychologists usually try to help people use insight and understanding to manage their behavior. However, neuroscience research shows that very few psychological problems are the result of defects in understanding; most originate in pressures from deeper regions in the brain that drive our perception and attention. When the alarm bell of the emotional brain keeps signaling that you are in danger, no amount of insight will silence it.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, The Body Keeps the Score.
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Heaven On Earth Farm
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