Trauma.

That’s a big, gnarly word. For some, it brings up bad car crashes, child abuse, horrifying physical injury.

For others, growing up in a middle class “safe” neighborhood with educated parents and all your “needs” were provided for – trauma is for other people. People from war torn countries. Refugees. What do I have to complain about? (answered below).

Trauma is anything that was too much, too soon, too fast for your nervous system.

What does that mean?

Just like you don’t have to think about your heart beating – It just beats (autonomic process within your body). Or you don’t have to think about your food moving down your esophagus, into your stomach, moving into your small intestines, body absorbing or not absorbing nutrients, moving into your large intestines…. That process happens all on its own.

When your safety is threatened, your body has an autonomic response (this is 100% outside your conscious control).

I’m sure you’ve heard of Fight, Flight, Freeze. This is what that means.

Example:

The gazelle is being chased by a tiger. The gazelle is in Flight – that is how the body responds to the threat – RUN!

The tiger catches the gazelle, the gazelle Fights to get away. The nervous system realizes it’s not getting away, so it drops into Freeze. This is nature’s mercy. Analgesics are flooding the gazelle’s system to numb it from the pain of being attacked and eaten. And quite literally, the gazelle is frozen. It cannot move.

Then a hyena shows up. It wants the tiger’s meal. The tiger lets go of the gazelle to fight off the hyena. In a split second, the gazelle comes out of Freeze, and launches into Flight. It runs away, and lives to see another day. Once the gazelle is safe, it’s body will shake. It’s uncontrollable. And this is the nervous system discharging the Survival Stress Physiology (Flight, to Fight, to Freeze, to Flight again). Or, the stress hormones that flooded the gazelle’s system to allow for it to move through the various survival responses. (such as cortisol and adrenalin)

We are human mammals. We have the same responses as the gazelle. Except we also have a prefrontal cortex in our brain. This is the part of the brain that when – let’s say you have a near miss to a bad accident – you text your BFF. You post about it on social media, and comments come flooding in. You write about it. You take it to you therapist. All the while, reenforcing to your nervous system that you are under threat.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between something happening in the moment, and when you imagine (or re-live it through re-telling of the story). The body will respond by surging your system with those stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenalin) so you are ready to launch into survival physiology (Fight, Flight, Freeze).

We keep ourselves in survival stress because we thwart the discharge (have you ever felt like you were about to start shaking, but did everything you could to “control yourself” – stopping that process of shaking stores the stress into your nervous system).

“As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating.” – Dr. Bessel van der Kolk from his book The Body Keeps the Score.

Trauma isn’t just the Big T traumas (car accidents, abusive care givers, poverty, racism, living during a pandemic – which falls under Inescapable Attack). Trauma is also Little t Traumas (care giver being overly focused on your appearance, low level chronic stress that never lets up, having to deny your reality to appease an authority figure, being in relationships with no boundaries – or if you try to have boundaries you are made to feel bad for it, and so on.)

Chronic Stress IS survival stress in your body. If you aren’t coming down off the chronic stress, you body isn’t able to access a rest, digest, & heal state. It’s in survival mode. This is where we see the weird physical symptoms showing up. The syndromes. Or when you hear things like: 90% of disease is from stress (because what does that even mean?). If the body is focused on survival, therefore cannot access rest, digest, and HEAL – it’s no wonder disease can be stress induced.

Healing trauma isn’t a single event, where you get to check off the box and move on. It’s learning about how your particular physiology reacts to stress, and how to soothe and settle yourself when future stressors arise (they always will).

Healing trauma is both nervous system regulation skills, AND specific event renegotiation. We need regulation before we can address the specifics. There are protocols for each step of the process.

“Unresolved trauma weaves itself into the very fabric of our being….. The research is unequivocal: people with unresolved trauma get sicker and die younger.”- Dr. Nicole LePera from her book How To Do The Work.

I’m hoping you are thinking – ok – I’ve had some education on what trauma is – but now what?

I have been trained and am continuing my education as a Somatic Practitioner.

Somatic comes from Soma, which means “body” in Greek.

Somatic modalities are body based, neurophysiological interventions that bring regulation to the nervous system – therefore allowing your body to access rest, digest, and heal states of being. Less survival physiology, more healing and repair physiology.

My 3-year program in Somatic Experiencing says: Somatic Experiencing trauma resolution is a body-centered therapeutic modality that helps resolve stuck patterns and integrate negative past experiences that have manifested in the body to restore the optimal functioning of the nervous system.

My training with Kathy Kain in Somatic Practice is working with the stress organs in the body. Ex: kidneys and adrenals, brain stem, digestive tract. This can be done on a massage table – fully clothed – as well as over Zoom. Intentional touch (not at all massage) and giving various stress organs attention to bring a settled and soothed response. (again, always going back to rest, digest, and heal physiological states). Personally, I find this work to be dreamy. I adore my sessions as a client. I always sleep so much deeper after.

And the best part: because this is body based, and not talk therapy – I don’t need to know all the details of your story. I work with what your body is communicating in the present moment as a result of your past experiences. You don’t need to relive your trauma or re-tell your trauma to do this work.

I come from many worlds: massage therapy, dance, yoga, mind body practices, fitness, art/crafts/maker space, and somatics. I throw all of those worlds into a blender, and mix. All of the ingredients influence how I work as a somatic practitioner. (BTW: making – crafting – art – coloring – are some of the most regulating things you can do for your nervous system. And, those things are accessible to you right now. Make to make. Make to regulate. End result isn’t the finished product, but a soothed nervous system. I color with crayons with my young daughter almost daily.)

I believe my superpower as a yoga instructor is also my superpower as a somatic practitioner. I have an uncanny ability to see a person’s physiology, and structural alignment. I can make micro adjustments that change everything. I have long time dance fitness students that comment at my ability to know something is going on with them, even when they have said nothing. I see the body. I see subtle changes that others don’t see. I’ve been training my whole life in this work, I just didn’t realize it until I was eyeball deep in full time school specific to somatics.

What Do I Wear For My Session?

This is not a massage. You remain clothed the whole time.

I suggest comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict movement or pinch.

I've had people arrive in anything from pajamas to business casual to athleisure. 

You'll take your shoes off for lying on the table, but you are most welcome to leave socks on.

Welcome to the Rainbow Room

Somatic Sessions

What Can I Expect During A Session?


- Nervous System & Regulation Education. Our biology as Human Mammals & why that matters.

- Tools you can use outside of your sessions giving you empowered ownership of your nervous system healing & regulation.

- Treatment itself can be seated in a chair, or on a massage table. Your choice.

- If on the table, safe touch outside of clothing by the practitioner. All touch is verbalized beforehand, and you have full permission to say no, or ask for an alternative. Most touch is full hand contact. Some people choose to also have a light blanket or a 7 pound weighted blanket. 

- Treatment will include your active participation with your attention and intention to track your internal body sensations (known as interoception).

- Treatment might include mindfulness practices, movement, and even art supplies to access your body's wisdom and to open up the possibility of healing. 

- Office is cleaned frequently. Air filtration with HEPA, Carbon and Photocatalytic Filters, with UV Light and Negative Ion Generator. Sheets & blankets are laundered. Fidgets & Squish Balls are sanitized between clients.  Essentially: I clean like I'm the client walking in, and want everything to be sanitary and safe.

What is Somatic Experiencing and Somatic Touch?


This is not a short answer as each individual has different needs and skills.


I help people go from Survival Stress Activation (Fight, Flight, Freeze) (Left side of the graphic below)

to

Rest, Digest, Heal, Play, Social Engagement (Right side of the graphic)


It is a neurophysiological approach to resolving trauma.

It’s about accessing the part of the self that is hard wired to heal.

It is a combination of mindfulness, neuroscience and the understanding of the physiological responses of what’s overwhelming.


How?

Body based neurophysiological interventions that bring regulation to the nervous system – therefore allowing your body to access rest, digest, and heal states of being. When your body can turn the volume down on Survival Stress, it automatically turns up the volume on it's ability to Rest, Digest, and Heal. We cannot possibly predict how your body will prioritize this opened capacity for regulation and healing. We do know: it will create positive change.


Back To Looking at the graphic below:

The left side represents your body in threat. In threat your physiology is in Survival Stress (Fight, Flight, or Freeze). 

The right side represents your body in safety. When you are in safety, you can Rest, Digest, and Heal. 


The relationship between threat and safety is interconnected.

For talking purposes, if your body is using 80% of its energy for Survival Stress, it only has 20% available for Rest, Digest, Healing, Rejuvenation, and Cellular Repair activities. 20% isn't enough for repair, it's enough to keep you alive. 


Your body is a self-healing. (You get a paper cut and your skin knits itself back together, for example)

Your body can heal only if it has enough available energy for healing. 


Essentially what I do is lower the volume on the survival stress physiology

which by default increases the available energy for Rest, Digest, Heal. 


It's been really fun working with clients and seeing how their systems respond.

I've had many clients report symptoms (of all types) they've been trying to manage have lessened or resolved.