Clinical Practice and Philosophy

There was a time when you were not a slave. Remember that.
You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed full-bellied…
You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does
not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or,
failing that, invent.

~ Monique Wittig, Les Guerilleres

At the center of any experience of the self, whether we are conscious of it or not, is the body. All experiences, behavior, emotions, sensations, desires, language and action are experienced bodily.

The Somatic Psychotherapy that I practice integrates traditional psychodynamic, family systems, feminist psychology and post-modern theory with body-centered practices. Some of those practices may, when appropriate, enter into the psychotherapy relationship through work with movement, gesture, posture, touch or vocalizations.

We may work with dreams, fantasies, family stories and histories and relationship patterns, while noticing and exploring the feelings and sensations which arise.  Many sessions may not work directly with the body through movement or touch, but may instead, during the course of conversing, give attention to vocal tone, gestures, postures and breath.

Somatic Psychotherapy is different from conventional modes of “bodywork” because the focus is psychotherapeutically based, that is, based on understanding, integrating and making conscious the unconscious experiences of body and psyche. Somatic Psychotherapy looks closely at the relationship between the therapist and client, holding as paramount the belief that healing happens in relationships.

Especially for women, queer-identified people, people of color and other people marginalized by dominant power paradigms, the body is often a site of cultural dislocation. Cultures and families inscribe themselves not only on our psyches, but also on our bodies. And for those of us who move between merely surviving in dominant cultures and flourishing in chosen communities, families and alternative spaces, the body bears witness to that tension and movement, often manifesting in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, illness and disconnection from one’s full experience.

By working directly with the cultural messages and lessons that have been integrated, often unconsciously, onto the body and psyche, we can begin to create new stories, meanings and choices about being members of our communities and cultures.