Sessions are usually 60 minutes in length. Therapy is usually conducted in chairs, with one person sitting across from another. However, clients are by no means obligated to sit still for the whole session. If, at any point, you need to get up, stretch or take a walk, just let me know. Therapy is more effective when you are comfortable for the full duration of the session.
I often start by inviting clients to take a moment to get present in the room. I may ask them to notice their surroundings and take in their visual environment. Some people prefer to get present by feeling the texture of a pillow or enjoying the flavor of their tea. These brief mindfulness exercises help clients form a secure anchor what is happening in the present moment, which prevents traumatic memories or emotions from becoming overwhelming.
Most traditional therapy involves talking while the therapist listens in a non-judgemental manner, providing support and helpful feedback. Much of my work looks like traditional therapy. I believe that the foundation of any healing work is a trusting relationship with the practitioner. This can only be accomplished by empathy and respect for the client, two things that I take very seriously.
I will often ask how clients are feeling, not just on an emotional level, but in their physical body. Most communication is nonverbal. When we pay attention to body language, it can reveal patterns of tension that we may not have previously recognized. Attending to this tension allows it to release naturally. This reduces stress and, in many cases, physical pain that is caused by stress.
Sometimes this is enough to reduce people’s symptoms. In the case of severe trauma, intense emotions or sensations may arise, as a result of the body’s natural fight or flight responses. When these arise, I will provide support for you to stay present in the room while allowing these feelings to arise in a gradual way. The techniques I use are based on Somatic Experiencing (SE), in which I have received advanced-level training. For more information on this methodology, please visit www.traumahealing.org.
Often, people dread talking about trauma, expecting a session to be overwhelming. With SE, people leave sessions with a sense of relief and calm. Many report a renewed sense of energy and a greater appreciation for being alive.