Browsing: embodiment


For much of my professional life, I have been fortunate to do work that I love; work that is profoundly meaningful to me, and that I consider to be “who I am” as much as it is “what I do”. Early in my career, that professional identity centered on being a somatic psychotherapy practitioner. Like many of the readers of Somatic Psychotherapy Today, my life has been enriched and forever transformed by my own experiences as a somatic psychotherapy client. As a therapist, I understood my clinical work as not just potentially “life-changing” for my clients, but “culture-changing” as well. I lived and breathed the work, and brought a somatic perspective to my whole life – how I moved, how I interacted with others, and how I understood the world.

Later in my professional life, I had the opportunity to broaden my focus to include teaching somatic psychotherapy graduate students and conducting research into the various ways a somatic perspective might inform a range of topics – for example, working with trauma survivors, integrating somatics and the expressive arts, and transforming the process of teaching and learning. So now when people ask me what I do for a living, I am much more likely to describe myself as a somatic scholar/activist than a somatic psychotherapist. This shift in professional identity is important in understanding how and why I came to write Embodied Social Justice, because like my previous books (Elemental Movement, 2000; Knowing in our Bones, 2011), this book is based on original research. Although I have tried to write it in a way that engages and inspires readers, at its heart it is research document.


Embodied Being is an interweave of contemplation, Zen practice, and philosophy to inform the art of manual therapy (Rolfing in particular), with each thread representing a solid thread of Jeffrey Maitland’s internalized fabric.

Body Psychotherapy

To be human means to orient vertically; it is our most fundamental human orientation. We live the majority of our lives in a vertical posture, assuming the advantages and challenges of the evolutionary development of a vertical spine. From infancy on we don’t waste any time trying to get ourselves vertical. Place a baby on his stomach and one of his first movements is to raise his head. He doesn’t stop there. As soon as possible he proceeds to push up, sit up, and stand up.
Yet, integrated vertical standing is not a fixed and rigid state. Rather, it is a dynamic stance that makes continual fine adjustments in gravity. This continual stable motion in our posture and internal organs rouses information in the form of emotions, memories, thoughts and sensations.


Karnac publishers just announced a special 15% discount on all books written/edited by Dr. Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar. Now you can own Speaking of Bodies: Embodied Therapeutic Dialogues, When Hurt Remains: Relational Perspectives on Therapeutic Failure, and Touching the Relational Edge, and save money too. Be sure to check your SPT Magazine Subscriber newsletter for your special discount code on February 15, 2016.

Birth Psychology

Michael Shea, PhD, educator, author, and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist explains that for healing to happen both the client and the practitioner “symbolically return to the undifferentiated wholeness of the original fluid body in the early embryo while staying in present time.” Through embodiment practices, Shea says, we have the capacity to maintain our interconnectedness throughout our lives when we connect with our fluid nature, our blood, and our heart.

Birth Psychology

My first inkling of early trauma emerged while receiving bodywork. While previous therapy was helpful, touching early prenatal and birth traumas hidden beyond my conscious awareness required including my body in therapy. Massage leading to emotional release began the process. This was followed by dance/movement psychotherapy where I learned to notice and express what was held in my tissues. I was fascinated by memories of feeling unwelcomed and unwanted, losing a twin, being plucked out of the womb with forceps from a mother too drugged to remember if she had held me after birth, or to realize the wrong baby was brought to her three days later.