Browsing: somatic psychology

Reflections

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.

Mind/Body/Spirit

“The word wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight. Up close, first glance, it is “wild” – then farther into the woods next glance it’s “wyld” and it recedes old Norse villr and Old Teutonic wilthijaz into a faint pre-Teutonic ghweltijos which means, still, wild and maybe wooded (wald) and lurks back there with possible connections to will, to Latin silva (forest, sauvage), and to the Indo-European root ghwer, base of Latin ferus (feral, fierce), which swings us round to Thoreau’s “awful ferity” shared by virtuous people and lovers. The Oxford English Dictionary has it this way:

Of animals – not tame,
undomesticated, unruly
Of plants – not cultivated
Of land – uninhabited, uncultivated
Of wild crops – produced or
yielded without cultivation”
(Snyder, Practice of Wild, 2010: 9.)

Reviews

Written by Rae Johnson Reviewed by Nancy Eichhorn A story to start, to illustrate potent nuances that, without awareness, perpetuate inequality outside…
Currents

According to Serge Prengel, “The theme of the 2019 International Focusing Conference is about being human, just human. This is such a great theme. Why should we wait all this time to explore it? I suggest we just declare the conference open as of right now. And we start exploring this theme internally, in conversations with others, as well is in our communications through social media and otherwise. So, by the time of the conference, we will not be simply discovering the theme, but we will come to the conference already enriched and ready to go even deeper in our explorations.”

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My clients lie. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers, themselves, no one is excluded from their liar’s club, myself included. As the clinical director of an inpatient detox and rehabilitation center (addressing all forms of substance addiction), I was lied to by my clients so often I started to expect it. However, and this is even more important, I did accept it as a symptom of the disease called addiction.

After five years at the center I realized that dishonesty in general and manipulative behaviors in particular, especially when clients were still struggling with active addiction and frequent relapses, were not embedded in their personality or characteristics. Rather, they resulted from past experiences and how the addict viewed his/her problem and its solution. I believe that accepting such a point of view can help therapists improve their ability to handle their countertransference and enable them to remain compassionate even when confronted with their clients’ dishonesty.

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“Well, it’s done!” Bonnie said with a sideways glance, her eyes not quite meeting mine. A twist of her lips said, I survived, but barely.

Bonnie had come to see me shortly after A.H., her high school sweetheart and husband of more than a decade, told her he was moving out of their condo; he didn’t love her anymore. Within the throes of this shock and the stress of reordering her once familiar and stable life through a mediation process, Bonnie had been emotionally floundering.

“I didn’t lose it in the mediator’s office,” she said, recounting the ordeal. “But I’ve been crying ever since I left. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that now we are legally separated.” She settled into the soft couch across from me, and reached for the box of tissues. “This has made my back ache worse; my whole body feels like it’s in a vice. And on top of that he’s not responding to any of my texts!”

Currents

What can the theory and practice of somatic/body psychotherapy, ecopsychology and Buddhism offer to each other?

For the past five years, Kamalamani has shared life and work at the confluence of these fields in her quarterly Bodywise articles for Somatic Psychotherapy Today, an independent international publication representing various modalities in body psychotherapy, somatic psychology, and pre-natal and perinatal psychology. This volume brings together these quarterly Bodywise articles. Kamalamani explores client work in embodied and relational ways, drawing upon her practice of Buddhism. With her characteristically warm, immediate, accessible tone, Kamalamani encourages personal reflection and professional consideration as she offers insights illuminated by traditional Buddhist texts along with personal and clinical anecdotes that range from birth to death, from meditating with character to Reich’s character structures, from trauma and terrorized bodies to diversity, embodied spirituality and pre-natal and peri-natal psychology.

Reviews

Trauma is pervasive in our lives, from smaller situations that trigger feelings of inability and fear to larger catastrophes that render our entire being useless as we careen out of control. Be it a result of human inflicted acts of violence—war, terrorism, genocide— or the result of natural occurrences such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wild fires that leave us feeling victimized, isolated, abandoned, people walk through their lives numb to their reality. Their senses are overwhelmed; scenes flash in as if happening now, not then. People exist in the past as if it is the present. And when these people become our clients, when in fact these people are in part, ourselves, we, as therapists, need to offer hope and possibility to move from then to now, to live a better quality of life than what we are experiencing in the current moment.

But, how?

Currents

The Fall 2017 issue of the International Body Psychotherapy Journal, volume 16, number 3, is now online. This issue marks a significant transition to the IBPJ editorial team. Jill van der Aa, the managing editor since the journal’s inception, is stepping down and Antigone Orepoulou is stepping up for the Spring 2018 issue. We welcome her to the editorial team. The fall issue offers a range of papers. Readers can partake in an in-depth conversation about self-disclosure from a relational body psychotherapy stance, and explore client suffering as potentially originating from civilization then look at how getting in touch adaptively with the body resonates with helping society get in touch sustainably with the ecosystem. The pioneering work of Sabina Spielrein is explored as is the Triphasic Cumulative Microaggression Trauma Processing Model.