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advancing our field

Member driven blogs to spotlight solutions, share opinions, raise public awareness, and contribute to shaping our national mental health policy.  Stay current and up-to-date in the world of somatic psychology and practices.

  • 1 Jul 2019 5:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Sheila Rubin, LMFT, RDT/BCT
    Get Sheila's bio in part 2 of this article.

    I begin this chapter about the internet with the fact that my clients think I’m a Luddite. I grew up with a wall phone telephone that, by definition, was attached to the wall. At most, we could stand a few feet from the wall, with a few inches of cord linking us to the phone. This was in a time even before answering machines. I came of age and went to study radio and television in college during the time of the black-and-white Portapak video machine that was heavy, where we actually spliced tape using our fingers—just before electronic newsgathering. Response time to a letter was a couple of days to a couple of weeks. I’m fully aware that the words I’m writing here will likely be outdated due to technology changes before the book is out in the world. I have accepted the use of a smartphone into my private practice, along with doing therapy over the phone or Skype if I have met the client at least once in person. I have come a long way!

    Who Wants Therapy over the Internet?

    People who live far away, people who don’t have time to drive to a therapist’s office, and people who are shy comprise the population of those who request therapy via the internet. I use the word shy to describe people who may feel uncomfortable or even ashamed about what they want to talk about “in private.” This is a great place. The internet provides a safe venue in which shy people may feel safer about seeking help. In working with shy people, I use extra care to welcome them, help them feel safe, and am aware that they may, at some point, reveal their shameful feelings

    Therapy on the Phone or Internet

    On both phone and Internet, with individuals or couples. I find that I check more often for

    feelings that I might be able to sense when working face-to-face. I slow things down and tend to do more somatic work, asking clients to ground and to sense somatically for part of the session. I always ask at the end, “What are you taking from this session? What was helpful?” I also give homework after each session; for example, make a list of the coping skills from the session and put them on your calendar day by day, or take the powerful symbolic objects from this session and put them out in your room at home with a note by each to remind you what each part said to you today. Or, find an object to represent the shy part of you that is afraid to speak and take the card we wrote today and put it next to it. Practice it in the mirror before you talk to your boss.

    Concerns about Technology

    What about when technology fails, when a person just revealed something that has been hidden and Skype freezes? In the middle of a session, a husband was telling his wife why he had trouble when she touched him. Suddenly the screen froze and this tender moment was interrupted. I was frantically trying to call them on Skype, which would not reconnect. I had to call them on my cell phone; the tender moment had passed and they were fighting again. There was a rupture that had been caused by failed technology that mirrored the rupture in their relationship. I had to slow things down and gently find the words to meet them and name the negative cycle that occurred when communication came to a standstill. I used this as a symbol of what they were both dealing with within the relationship and helped them build a bridge toward each other.

    Shame is the rupture of the interpersonal bridge, says Kaufman (1974, 1992). Any disruption in connection with a significant other can disconnect the person from him- or herself, or the therapist, and activate the feeling of shame.

    What I realized was I had to let them know ahead of time the constraints and the benefits of using the phone for therapy or skype for therapy. It will save them time coming to my office when they are in a difficult place in the relationship, but it may not be as contained as an in-person session. One couple who was struggling with the husband having an online affair and the wife needing to see his phone to be reassured that he wasn’t meeting the woman. I spoke slowly and carefully to them to get an agreement before we began to talk. “Because we are not face-to-face, I can’t just put up my hand to interrupt you if there is shouting. I am going to do the session slowly and have you repeat what you hear the other person saying so that I can know you heard them and they can know that you heard them. We are going to take turns. Are you both in agreement? And because the phone is not a predictable medium, each of us is on a cell-phone, if one of us gets disconnected for any reason we need to have a plan. Is each of you near a home or office line? If someone’s line dies, we will momentarily stop the session and I will wait for the call of the person who was disconnected. Call me back on your office phone and I will use my phone to accept both calls.


    In my chapter in Self in Performance coming out in 2016 or 2017, I write that “Shame can be right there in the shadows. It is easy for misunderstanding.” When I can’t see the emotion on clients’ faces, because we are on the phone or they are looking away from the skype screen, I don’t know what they are experiencing. In the book Shame and Pride, Nathanson (1992) explained that throughout life we are balancing between pride when we are seen in a good light and shame when we make a mistake of being seen in a less than favorable light. Diana Fosha (1992) later wrote that we would call this our “self at best” and our “self at worst.” We strive to be seen as smart or clever or helpful, but when a mistake is made and something is unclear, suddenly the person is risking being exposed and seen as self at worst. This concept is helpful to remember as a client is sharing vulnerable revelations. I know from my own vulnerability how scary it can be to be exposed at the wrong time or without kindness and support.

    Skype Therapy

    I have done consultation for colleagues as well as therapy sessions on Skype. The good news is that Skype can serve as a bridge between family members who do not live within driving distance of one another. It can also get in the way of direct eye contact and physical contact those family members long for. It proved very therapeutic for an elder client to see her grandchild over Skype, even though she believed it would not “do the trick.” She had been hurting because her son didn’t call her as often after the baby came and that the other grandparent was invited and she was not. We role-played her talking to her son, but nothing shifted. She still felt left out, like something was wrong with her for not being chosen to spend time with the new family. We unpacked under all the feelings of anger toward her son for not insisting that his wife invite her at the same time as the other grandparents and under that was the feeling of shame. She felt ashamed to not be invited and fought with him on the phone when they did talk. I asked her to role-play talking to her son in a way that invited a solution instead of blaming him for her

    frustration. I invited her to role-play the visit with the grandchild. She rocked back and forth.

    Finally, I suggested that she use Skype as a way to visit her grandchild. She told me that I didn’t understand. She wanted to pick her up and rock her in her lap in the rocking chair. I invited her to try just one phone visit on Skype with her son and grandbaby. She sat in the rocking chair at her home and rocked during the skype session with her son and his Babby. She was delighted to see her grandchild recognize Grammy over Skype. This experience fulfilled her longing to visit with her grandchild. There were many Skype visits thereafter. Her feelings of shame about being left out decreased and invite to visit increased.


    Please note that I only do sessions remotely if I have met with the client in my office and we have developed a solid therapeutic container first. When the client is in my office, I can observe a range of nonverbal cues and get a sense of his or her energy. Over the phone, there are subtle cues I may miss. Here are ways I work with the absence of the visual modality. Because I am not seeing them, there are things I need to do to contain the energy of the session and the pace of the session. Because the client isn’t seeing me, there are ways I want to structure things to help them feel me where they are sitting.

    Case Example of Phone Session

    This client was feeling dark; her boyfriend was spending time with his ex-lover again instead of going on the date they had planned.

    Client: “He’s still in the role of letting his ex rely on him. I couldn’t stop crying for hours.

    My emotions got all wacky or something. I see his side when he’s helping his kids. But

    every act of his kindness is an act of affection toward his ex. One day its good between

    us, and the next day I feel ignored, neglected.”

    Therapist: “How about if you choose something in your room to represent your feeling

    neglected and ignored.”

    Client: “OK, this plant.”

    Therapist: “Can you move it near you and look closer at it? And as you are looking at it,

    what does it say to you? What does it symbolize?”

    Client: “You have to pay attention to a flower. You have to water it or it dies!”

    Therapist: “So that’s a very powerful symbol of needing to be tended and cared for.”

    (I wanted to pause and have her reflect on the importance of her attachment needs. She really wanted to just rush past them in the session. Choosing an object helped me direct the session to make space for that subject. The act of choosing something took her into another part of her brain where creativity was more open to her. Having a symbol can be a very powerful metaphor. Having it in front of her helped her to focus on it during the whole session).

    Client: “Yes! I want to be cared for. But when I feel this way, I don’t feel like myself. It

    feels like I don’t exist. It’s too painful when he says he’s coming over and then he cancels

    because he’s with his ex-lover. Why am I punishing myself? I could go out and be in

    another relationship!”

    Therapist: “So there’s another part of you that doesn’t want to be punished anymore, that

    wants to find another relationship, one where the guy is choosing you instead of choosing

    his ex. Can you look around the room and find an object that represents this part of you?”

    (This is another place I want to pause the session and give her time to feel the

    power of what she just said. I want a symbol for that part so we can talk to that

    part as well, maybe have a conversation with both of them.)

    Client: “This candle!”

    Therapist: “Can you put the candle in front of you and look at it. What does it represent?”

    Client: (Surprised) “There’s a light in it! I can attract things…people! But I’m not ready to move on.”

    Therapist: “Can you give each a voice? What does the flower say and what does the

    candle say to you?”

    (The candle told her that she is bright inside when she’s not so depressed

    worrying what is going on with this guy she’s dating. It gives her inspiration to

    grow herself and step out of the relationship to a real relationship where someone

    could really be available for her. As she was expressing this, another feeling

    showed up.

    Client: “I feel deep anxiety.”

    Therapist: “Where is the anxiety in your body?”

    Client: “My diaphragm.”

    Therapist: “Can you put some space around it and take some slow deep breaths?”

    Client: “I’m not being logical. I should just leave him. But I don’t want to leave him. He

    says kind things to me, offers to work it out. I really care about him. He’s clear about his

    intention that he wants to be with me!”

    Therapist: “There are a lot of conflicting feelings.”

    (Because we are on the phone, I want to keep the connection and let her know that

    I am here and that I hear her.)

    Client: “I’m scared. Lonely.”

    Therapist: Yes, there’s a part that’s scared and lonely.”

    (I want to support this part.)

    Client: “It’s like a pouting child!”

    (And it feels like she is putting down that part. It is like some part of her is

    shaming that part of her for wanting what she is wanting.)

    Therapist: “I wonder, I’m curious if there is some shame around that part?”

    Client: “Yes.”

    Therapist: “Can you look around and find an object to represent the part that comes out

    and shames you when you talk about your attachment needs?”

    Client: (Apparently looking around her room for a few moments) “A hat.”

    Therapist: “How does a hat represent shame?”

    Client: “I put it on myself!!! I have a hard time asking him to meet my needs and I’m scared that they won’t get met again. That he’ll cancel plans with me again!”

    Therapist: “Maybe the shame comes out to put you down for feeling what you’re feeling?”

    Client: “Yes. If I’d recognize those things, logically I would leave.”

    Therapist: “That inner conflict is so painful. So one part of you shames you for having normal wants and needs from him and when you think he lies again or cancels plans, then that part shames you again for not leaving.”

    Client: “He told me he couldn’t have me over because he didn’t want his neighbors to think I was a homewrecker because his ex just moved out. So now I feel shame for wanting to come to his house. It’s been over six months we’ve been dating. So when is he going to tell people?”

    Therapist: “How did you feel when he said that?

    Client: “Insecure! Nerves all over my body. On edge!”

    Therapist: “What did the nerves say?”

    Client: “Run!”

    Therapist: “And what did you do when you felt that strong urge to run?”

    Client: “I’m feeling shame about my feelings. He’s good with his words, but his actions don’t match. Then I feel shame for wanting to leave.”

    Therapist: “I wonder if this current feeling of shame reminds you of anything that happened before in your life.”

    Client: “I feel so much shame in this relationship. It reminds me of my last relationship.”

    Therapist: “The one where the guy was hiding his porn addiction and hiding his other lovers?”

    Client: “Yes. That was terrible. But I want to give this guy more opportunity, more time to show me that he can make the life for us he is always promising. I want to give him the benefit of my doubts. I want this relationship to work.”

    Therapist: “Of course you want this relationship to work. Can you turn to the plant that represents your needs? What does the plant say?”

    Client: “The plant says, ‘You’re making yourself suffer!’”

    Therapist: “What does the hat say?”

    Client: “It says that I’m ashamed of my feelings. I’m embarrassed that I want him to visit me instead of his kids. That’s terrible.”

    Therapist: “What does the candle say?”

    Client: “It says that I don’t need to shame myself for my feelings. I have a light inside me. I need to remember.”

    (I’m wanting her to stop here and reflect and to work to understand if maybe there

    is something here for her to be shameful for. That would be a form of healthy


    Therapist: “Sometimes shame can pull a person out of her deep knowing by cutting off the life force or the light. Sometimes there is healthy shame that tells a person that there is something he or she doing or another person is doing that is actually shameful, that should be shameful. And there might be helpful information here if this is healthy shame. Healthy shame can help a person make new decisions or understand things differently. Here is some homework to do before our next session. Get out your journal at the end of the session and ask yourself, “What did I get from this session?” Please write it down. And please write down some of these questions. Please do some journal writing to answer these questions:

    • What does the plant say?

    • What does the candle say?

    • What does the hat say about how you shame yourself?

    • Listen to the shame and feel if there is something of value here or if it is just putting you down.

    • Is there part of it that is valid?

    • Is there something to listen to that is actually shaming in the situation for a reason?

    • Is there something here from a past relationship or situation where you felt shamed?

    • Is there something you feel shy about?

    • Is there something for you to learn about shame here?

    Understanding Shame

    Shame is a primary emotion. The role of shame is to warn us and protect us. Our nervous

    system shuts down and we actually lose cognitive ability when we are feeling ashamed.

    Two indicators of shame are confusion and stuckness. Shame can freeze both mind and body. Shame is so difficult to see and cope with because it often hides behind other emotions. Shame, like of its functions is to protect us by lowering our emotional intensity and capacity to act. It is important to differentiate healthy shame, which can help us pause and rethink, from toxic shame, which can produce paralysis and leave a person so frozen that he or she is incapable of action and clear thinking. Healthy shame can lead a person to take responsibility for his or her actions, reassess, and make changes.

    Healthy Shame

    John Amadeo in The Authentic Heart writes that shame can be instructive and that “properly acknowledged shame and guilt can open a doorway to understanding how you’ve hurt someone.” (p. 64)

    While excessive or toxic shame can keep a person in denial, “shame overload paralyzes

    your capacity for clear introspection.” He says that “No growth is possible without some

    small amount of shame.” (p.65)

    In my chapter “Embodied Life-Stories: Directing Self-Revelatory Performance to

    Transform Shame” in the book The Self in Performance by Emunah, Johnson and

    Pendzic, I wrote:

    “When we become significant to another person, as happens when we are therapist,

    supervisor, friend, spouse, or parent, then we can induce shame in him or her unconsciously, unintentionally, even without knowing it has happened. Failure to fully hear and understand the other’s need and to communicate its validity—a look in the other direction, a frown, a disappointing facial expression—whether or not we choose to gratify that need, can sever the bridge and induce shame.

    Developmental needs that are not met over time can also lead to internalized shame. The child learns to feel shame that his or her needs don’t matter; the rupture is from outside, from the parent who fails to validate the child’s needs.”

    I would add that it then is on the inside and the person learns unconsciously to shame themselves. “I am creating attachment through my witnessing, which starts from the first moment: being seen in a positive way, which is counter-shaming.” Daniel Hughes in Attachment-Focused Family Therapy writes about why shame may be a central factor in the development of pathology and a deterrent to getting help: “First, shame places one in a fog, hidden from potentially significant others, actively avoiding the exposure to another who could provide—through intersubjective experiences of acceptance, understanding, and empathy—a pathway toward both effective regulation as well as self-awareness. Second, shame prevents the development of the ability to reflect on and make sense of one’s behaviors and subjective experiences” (p. 184).

    In the Eight Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery (2000), Babette Rothschild notes that “shame, quite simply, tells us that something is amiss” (p. 87) and that “Rather than discharge, as an example in yelling or crying, shame dissipates, when it is understood or acknowledged by a supportive other. More than any other feeling, I find that shame needs contact to diminish” (p. 92). Rothschild describes a process for deciding when to address shame, understanding the value of shame, apportioning shame fairly, and sharing shame (pp. 98–100).

  • 19 May 2019 5:17 PM | Tina Stromsted, Ph.D., LMFT

    by Tina Stromsted, Ph.D.

    Nature as Witness

    Dance was medicine, and nature my deepest container and first witness.  As a child, when painful feelings arose around our family dinner table, I’d clear the table, load the dishwasher, and then dart across the street into the alfalfa field. I’d find the clearing at the center of the field and begin to spin and turn, holding the horizon line steady with my eyes as my body whirled. Blue sky, clouds, green leafy corn stalks, sweet alfalfa and the ground under my feet brought freedom, as family tension drained from my body into the soft, receptive earth. There, I’d dance, turning countless circles, my arms outspread. I felt full of abandon. Little did I know at the time that I was treating my wounded soul with core elements of Authentic Movement, which would become a cornerstone in my life and work.  

    A ‘shimmer’ ran through me; a life force that pulsed with spirit. Time stood still; there was a sense of oneness with the natural world all around and within me. In the natural way of childhood, I had stumbled on the whirling dance practiced by the early Sufis. Feeling free and whole, my soul restored, I’d return to the house for more chores and homework. Nature was my primary witness. 

    Years later, while studying and performing dance and theatre, I realized that my heart was not in ‘performing’. What really interested me was transformation, and how the body/psyche/spirit was involved in that. I sought the feeling of connection I’d experienced in my childhood fields. While teaching dance in my 20s, I began to focus not so much on the exactness of the students’ technique, but on the ‘shimmer’ that came and went in their soul expression, the movement of light in the body. As I sought ways to support them – letting their vitality come through in the dance and reflecting those moments back to them at the end of class – many began to tell me their life stories. Wanting to better hold and understand their experiences, I did volunteer work in mental health clinics and returned to graduate school to study clinical psychology and dance/movement therapy along with ongoing studies in somatic practices, creative arts therapies, Zen meditation, personal analysis, and eventually post-doctoral studies and analytic training at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. (Stromsted, 2015, pp. 341-2)

    The body as transformative vessel 

    The journey through life is not simply metaphorical, psychological or spiritual, but also concretely experienced in the body. Together with our dreams and intuition, the body can act as a compass to guide our life’s course. When you enter into the realm of the body, you encounter your history and all that may be dwelling there. With movement signatures that express us as uniquely as our fingerprints, our bodies serve as sculptured intermediaries between our inner and outer worlds. Our physical make-up reflects not only our genetic inheritance, but also the compromises and choices we’ve made in defining a lifestyle for ourselves, first as family members and then as individuals. Our experience, if embodied, also offers us a way to connect with all of humanity. The body is not only personal, but cross-cultural and universal. Our thoughts and feelings express themselves as gestures, often striking chords of emotional and spirited recognition within people everywhere. 

    The body should be thought of as a major initial text. It pulses with the oldest language,

    containing a deeper historical memory, which we strive to recognize through newer mediums such as neuroscience, genetics, somatic psychology, dance/movement therapy, trauma work, quantum physics, affect and attachment theories and others. ‘The body does not lie,’ said the late modern dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham. The body remembers why it is here: for healing, for embodiment, for incarnation (Stromsted, 1994/5, p. 17).

    Discovering Authentic Movement

    In 1982, I was introduced to Authentic Movement by Jungian analyst and dance/movement therapist Joan Chodorow, and soon engaged in many years of study with her, and with dance/therapist and scholar of mysticism Janet Adler.  I felt a deep resonance with the practice, as it took me back to my spontaneous dances in nature.  However, there was an essential difference: here I had a human witness.  How wonderful is that? To carry the knowing of nature into the realm of human relationship. Wounding often occurs within relationship, so it is within relationship that the healing process needs to occur. Authentic Movement deepens connections with the self, with the other, and with the generative life force.  The practice enables us to explore and acknowledge deeper feelings, images, relational dynamics and a more authentic

    sense of self as we re-inhabit our body in the context of a living, human community; the vital web of life.  This is the foundation of healing and growth.

    Application of Authentic Movement 

     “Movement to be experienced has to be found in the body, not put on like a dress or a coat. There is that in us which has moved from the very beginning; it is that which can liberate us.”                    - Mary Starks Whitehouse 

    Authentic Movement is one of the most potent avenues I have found for recovering the body/psyche/soul connection.  A Jungian form of dance therapy also known as ‘movement in depth’ or ‘active imagination in movement’, the practice provides a powerful avenue to engage the unconscious. Bodily expression brings clarity and healing to our woundedness, allowing the exploration and emergence of a new life energy.

    Tina Keller-Jenny (Swan, 2011) and others explored including the body in their analysis with C. G. Jung and with Toni Wolff. Then, in the 1950s, pioneering dance/movement therapist Mary Whitehouse (1911-1979) further developed Jung’s active imagination method by engaging the body more fully in ‘movement as active imagination.’  Since then, Authentic Movement (as it came to be called) is increasingly practiced by therapists, artists, spiritual and healing practitioners, clients, educators and social activists. I believe its widespread use comes as a response to a growing need to embrace the wisdom of the body and its essential role in the process of integrative healing, development, and transformation. The ‘talking cure’ is not enough, particularly where repressed, preverbal, and/or dissociated material and traumatized affects are concerned. These take up residence in the body, until circumstances are safe enough to allow them to be felt, mirrored, brought to consciousness, and healed. 

    The attuned, containing presence of the witness/therapist in Authentic Movement allows the mover/client safer access to early, primary-process-oriented parts of the self.  In the process, exploration of areas where development halted, together with transpersonal experience often emerge. Through this engagement, new neuropathways in the brain may be established, supporting further integration and embodiment. 

    This method has evolved with three major applications: as a form of psychotherapy, as a resource for artistic expression, and/or as meditation/sacred dance. Telling the story, developing healthy boundaries, engaging alternative healing modalities, creative arts practices and nurturing self-care rituals can all assist in the process of re-inhabiting the body. Illness, too, though painful, can offer a pathway to transformation and an enhanced appreciation for life, if attended to and explored consciously. As Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell puts it, “Body symptoms are dreams trying to happen in the body.” (Mindell, 1985)

    AMI & Soul's Body 

    In 1992 dance/movement therapist Neala Haze and I established the Authentic Movement Institute (AMI) in Berkeley, California (1992–2004). Other founding faculty members, Joan Chodorow and Janet Adler, together with Joan’s husband, Jungian analyst Louis Stewart contributed their areas of expertise to the teaching and curriculum development.  Elements included Jungian and developmental psychology, active imagination, somatics, dreamwork, play, arts practices, choreography, theory development, clinical applications, and mystical studies. (Stromsted and Haze, 2007).  Over time, additional faculty and guest teachers joined us in offering a variety of applications such as: treatment of cancer and other diseases; deepening our connection to nature; applied anatomy and neuroscience; poetry and storytelling; and non-violent community action.


    From childhood, myths, fairytales, and dreams guided my understanding of life’s challenges by showing that natural cycles of death and rebirth illuminate the path. Jung called this “individuation;” the journey toward wholeness. In the early 1980s I developed DreamDancing® as an approach that engages the energies, feelings and action of a dream, helping to further embody qualities that can guide and enhance one’s life. Exploring dreams through the body helps us ‘incarnate’ the inner life energies that are being out-pictured through the dream, seeking insight and integration into daily life. (Stromsted, 1984; 2010).

    One way to work with dreams in the body is to identify key gestures which can be strung together like beads on a necklace in a dance that speaks directly from the nonverbal, emotional midbrain where the images are formed (Stromsted 1984, 2010; Wilkinson 2006). Clients can also deepen a connection by stepping into a dream character and continuing the dream through an active imagination process. When practiced within group settings, themes and stories often emerge from the ‘collective body’ (Jung 1927, par. 342; Adler, 1994/1999) bringing insight to both individuals and the group, enhancing community.

    BodySoul Rhythms®

    Jungian analyst Marion Woodman made a significant contribution to engaging the body in healing the body/psyche/spirit split with BodySoul Rhythms® (BSR), which she co-created with dancer Mary Hamilton and voice teacher Ann Skinner. After completing their Leadership Training Program, I was invited by the Marion Woodman Foundation to co-facilitate training programs with Meg Wilbur (a Jungian analyst, voice teacher and playwright), and Dorothy Anderson (an artist and communications specialist). Our trio furthered the evolution of the work by leading ‘Wellsprings of Feminine Renewal’ intensives, adapting myths and fairytales into plays that illuminated the feminine individuation journey, integrated with other BSR elements such as movement, voice, dreamwork, art, mask work and ritual.

    The Dance of Three, an application of Authentic Movement, is a vital component of BSR. It involves a primary mover, an engaged responder, and a reflective witness who take turns moving to music, witnessing, and containing. Their reflections on their own and each other’s experience bring it to further consciousness.  Inner listening combined with outer engagement enhances our ability to be present with ourselves and others in increasingly conscious relationship, inviting a level of perception that can evoke deep respect and empathy. 

    In both Authentic Movement and BodySoul Rhythms®, the presence of a containing, compassionate witness contributes to healing, as the client opens to his or her senses to natural movement, and to the unfinished business and unlived potentials within. The witness/therapist, in turn, is often touched by the places her mover ventures to go; in this way, both people can open to their deeper natures and to the divine, the third space that they share.

    At my Soul’s Body® Center, I continue to engage and develop elements from Authentic Movement, BodySoul® work, DreamDancing®, Embodied Alchemy® and other creative, embodied healing methods. Soul’s Body® work focuses on attending to natural movement; supporting the development of a conscious, embodied container; engaging the sacred feminine and masculine; and working with the imagination, metaphor and dream images in the body. We also investigate the somatic foundations of the transmission process of multigenerational family patterns, explore body symptoms, cultural elements, and incorporate the use of non-judgmental/non-interpretive language in creative and healing work.


    Over the years, I have come to see Authentic Movement as a ‘safe enough’ container, a kind of uterus from which the client/mover may be reborn, in the presence of an outer witness or ‘good enough’ mother figure, from the ‘symbolic mother’ of his or her own unconscious. This in turn roots him or her in the instinctual ground of nature, the Great Mother. My practice has made it clear to me that containment – psychic, physical, emotional and spiritual – is necessary in order for deep transformation to unfold. In this ‘cocoon’ the melting of old defenses, including the body-stiffening that reflected them and held them in place, can begin to soften (Stromsted, 2014, p. 50).

    A more evolved awareness of self makes possible a more sensitive and nuanced relationship with your environment – interpersonally, politically and ecologically. The body plays a central role in this; for with a more vital, felt sense of our own embodied experience, we cannot help but resonate with the life force that animates all living beings. Instead of dissociating, projecting, becoming combative, and/or fleeing to spirit when feelings in the body are too uncomfortable to bear – thus passing them from generation to generation through unconscious trauma patterns – we can find a spiritual home in the body (Stromsted, 2014, p. 55). ‘Shimmer’ extends, and the seeds from my dances in the fields continue to grow.  


    Adler, Janet. (1994). The Collective Body. In P. Pallaro (Ed.), Authentic Movement: Essays by Mary Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler, and Joan Chodorow (pp. 190-204). Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1999.

    Jung, C. G. (1927), ‘The structure of the psyche’, in Collected Works (trans R.F.C.

    Hull), vol. 8, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Mindell, Arnold.  (1985).  Working with the dreaming body Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd.

    Stromsted, Tina. (1984). Dreamdancing: The use of dance/movement therapy in dreamwork.Ó Unpublished master’s thesis. John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, CA.

    Stromsted, Tina. (Autumn/Winter ’94-’95). Re-Inhabiting the female body. Somatics: Journal of the Bodily Arts & Sciences X (1), 18-27.

    Stromsted, Tina. & Haze, N. (2007). The road in: Elements of the study and practice of authentic movement. In P. Pallaro (Ed.), Authentic Movement: Moving the body, moving the self, being moved: A collection of essays (pp. 56-68). Volume II. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Stromsted, Tina. (2010). ‘DreamDancing®’ In P. Bennett (Ed.), Facing Multiplicity – Psyche, Nature, Culture, Proceedings of the 18th International IAAP Congress for Analytical Psychology. Montreal, Canada. Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag.

    Stromsted, Tina. (2014). The alchemy of Authentic Movement: Awakening spirit in the body. In Williamson, A., Whatley, S., Batson, G., & Weber R. (Eds.), Dance, somatics and spiritualities: Contemporary sacred narratives, leading edge voices in the field: sensory experiences of the divine (pp. 35-60). Bristol, United Kingdom: Intellect Books.

    Stromsted, Tina.  (2015).  Authentic Movement & The Evolution of Soul’s Body® Work. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices: Authentic Movement: Defining the Field, Intellect, vol. 7 (2), 339-357.  

    Swan, Wendy. (Ed.) (2011). The Memoir of Tina Keller-Jenny: A Lifelong Confrontation with the Psychology of C.G. Jung. New Orleans, LA: Spring Journal Books.

    Wilkinson, Margaret. (2006).  The dreaming mind-brain: a Jungian perspective. Journal of Analytical Psychology (51), 4359

    Tina Stromsted (2019). Witnessing Practice: In the Eyes of the Beholder. The Routledge International Handbook: Embodied Perspectives in Psychotherapy: Approaches from Dance Movement and Body Psychotherapies. London, UK: Routledge.

    Tina Stromsted & Daniela Seiff (2015). Dances of psyche and soma: Re-Inhabiting the body in the wake of emotional trauma. In D. F. Sieff (Ed.), Understanding and healing emotional trauma: Conversations with pioneering clinicians and researchers. London, UK: Routledge.

    Tina Stromsted, Ph.D. LMFT, LPCC, BC-DMT, RSME/T is a Jungian Psychoanalyst, Board Certified Dance/Movement therapist, and Somatic psychotherapist with 40 years of experience as a clinician, trainer, and educator. With a background in theatre and dance, she was co-founder and faculty member of the Authentic Movement Institute in Berkeley (1992-2004).  Currently she teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, in the Depth Psychology/Somatics Doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and is a core faculty member for the Marion Woodman Foundation.

    Founder of Soul’s Body® Center her numerous articles and book chapters explore the integration of body, brain, psyche and soul in healing and transformation. She teaches internationally and has a private practice is in San Francisco.


     Published: Tina Stromsted. (July, 2018). Embracing the Body, Healing the Soul, C.G. Jung Society   of Atlanta Newsletter. 

  • 8 May 2019 6:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr. Leslie Ellis

                Back in 2011, Eugene Gendlin, the founder of focusing-oriented therapy, received his third major award from the American Psychological Association, this one for his distinguished theoretical and philosophical contributions to psychology. In 2016, the year before he died at the age of 90, Gendlin received lifetime achievement awards from both the World Association for Person Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and the US Association for Body Psychotherapy. His work has made a significant impact on how somatic and experiential therapies are practiced around the world. However, many of Gendlin’s ideas were ahead of his time, and some of the potential impact from his ‘philosophy of the implicit’ has not yet made its way into mainstream thinking about the practice of psychotherapy. This article brings some of Gendlin’s radical ideas to light, summarizing his three most important papers on the theory of psychotherapy.

    There are three articles that focusing teachers from around the world agree are Gendlin’s most important contributions to psychotherapy theory, and although they are decades old, the ideas expressed in them continue to have a ‘radical impact’ (Ikemi, 2017) on psychotherapy theory. Many of Gendlin’s ideas have filtered into the common parlance of psychotherapy in various ways: proponents of immediacy and mindfulness in therapy, and those who encourage clients to follow their ‘felt sense’ or embodied understanding of an issue are taking their lead from Gendlin’s theories. It has been incorporated into methods like Emotion-Focusing Therapy and Somatic Experiencing. However, there are some concepts which underlie the process of psychotherapy that have not shifted appreciably since the days of Freud. One such concept, repression, is challenged and advanced by Gendlin’s philosophy.

    A theory of personality change (1964)

    In this ground-breaking article, Gendlin (1964) makes note of how the therapy endeavour is often a conversation between the client and therapist about what has gone wrong in their past (their experiences, development, family of origin, etc.) that has made them feel or act the way they now do. Therapy brings new awareness to the client about their past situation, and a realization that they must have felt all of this all along but kept it out of awareness because it was unacceptable or overwhelming. The concept of repression originated with Freud and has not changed much in the past 100 years.

    Part of the problem with this conceptualization, said Gendlin, is that it can only explain the personality as it is, and does not in theory allow for the possibility of change. It also operates on a ‘content paradigm,’ a sense that in their unconscious, people are holding a vast storehouse of fully-formed but forgotten experiences that must be unearthed so the client can understand how they came to be the way they are. There is the inherent assumption that this insight will bring change. What has been repeatedly observed, however, is that “knowing is not the process of changing.” Gendlin (1964) and many others have observed that in fact, personality change happens in the context of an emotional process, and in relationship.

    Gendlin (1964) developed a theory for this change process that updates the concept of repression with something that seems more plausible. He would say that the past experiences that still plague our clients were not experienced and then forgotten, but rather avoided or stopped before they happened. These pieces of unfinished process are tangible in the body as a felt sense that carries rich, complex and implicit meaning. When we pay direct attention in the present moment to the sense we still hold in our bodies about these unfinished aspects of our stories, it will unfold and be fully felt. Often, attending to a process that has been stopped leads to painful realizations, likely the reason the process was stopped in the first place. But even when a person comes to realize just how hard this experience is to fully feel, the process of turning toward it and allowing it to unfold most often brings a sense of relief, an easing of the anxiety surrounding it. This is surprising. Gendlin wrote, “One would have expected the opposite.”

    Another surprising thing happens as a result of attending directly to the felt sense of even the most intractable issue: “Even when the solution seems further away than ever, still the physiological tension reduction occurs, and a genuine change takes place. I believe that change is really more basic than the resolution of specific problems,” (Gendlin, 1964). What changes in this process is not the external situation, but the entire way the person holds the problem. What often follows such a shift is a flood of realizations, memories and new ways of making sense of old patterns. Gendlin said this dawning of insight is often mistakenly seen as the source of change when it is actually the by-product.

    How is it that such a transformative process is facilitated by the presence of another person? Gendlin said that it changes our manner of experiencing immediately when we are with someone else rather than alone. Of course, the nature of the person we are with makes a difference. With a self-oriented, impatient listener, we are apt to close off to our experience more than we normally would. However, with a listener that allows us to “feel more intensely and freely whatever we feel, we think of more things, we have the patience and the ability to go more deeply into the details, we bear better our own inward strain… If we have showered disgust and annoyance on ourselves to the point of becoming silent and deadened inside, then with this person we ‘come alive’ again.” This quality of presence that Gendlin describes is one that we as therapists endeavour to maintain. It is this quality of listening can move our clients forward in the places where their process has stopped, and the movement forward in these frozen places is what brings genuine change.

    The client’s client: The edge of awareness (1984)

    In this article, Gendlin (1984) differentiates feeling from the ‘felt sense’ and explains why following the felt sense, which is not as clear or intense as a feeling, is what leads to change. “People often have the same feelings over and over, quite intensely, without change-steps coming,” Gendlin wrote. Feeling things repeatedly does not discharge them as was previously thought, but actually reinforces them. On the other hand, the vague, murky felt sense leads to feelings and ideas that have not ever been consciously expressed, and this novelty is what leads to change.

    Gendlin stressed that it is the immediacy of the felt sense unfolding now that gives it the power to transform, not a reworking of the past, which is so often the paradigm for therapy. “Therapeutic steps are not a re-emergence of denied experience. What matters most for change-steps is precisely the new implicit complexity of the bodily living.” The past is always contained in the present experience, but the important difference in focusing is that it asks a person to attend freshly to what the felt sense brings now, rather than speaking from a hackneyed, familiar script about one’s life experience.

    Client-centered therapy encourages the therapist to follow the client’s lead, to come with no agenda and preconceived notions, but to allow the other’s process to unfold. And for a focusing client, Gendlin’s advice is to treat their felt sense the way the client-centered therapist ideally treats them. The felt sense is the ‘client’s client,’ (hence the article’s name). So as a therapist in this context, our job is the support our client to be gentle, open-minded, curious and respectful to the inner felt sense that is unfolding, to offer gentle reminders whenever they assume they already know what it’s about. (The same holds true in working with the dreams; people often make assumptions about their dream’s meaning.)

    This way of approaching therapy changes the manner of the conversation in some striking ways. Clients will typically begin their session by describing all they know about their problems, while a focusing approach is more concerned with what they don’t know. As a focusing therapist, our job is to continually bring the client back to the inwardly-sensed ‘unclear edge,’ a place they may be reluctant to stay with. To encourage focusing, the therapist can inquire into the felt sense in such a way that the client has to stop and check inside.

    Gendlin said, “There is a great difference between talking about and pointing.” An example he offers of pointing: when a client says something like, “I must not want to do this (get a job, meet new people, write an assignment) since when the time comes, I don’t do it.” The phrase ‘must not want to’ is speculation, an indication that the not-wanting is not directly sensed. Rather than simply reflect the not-wanting, the therapist can invite the client to stop and sense the not-wanting directly, to set aside what they think about it and see what is really there. This kind of redirection to the current sense of something can be done whenever you notice such speculation in a session. The result of pointing to something that can be directly sensed is often surprising, and moves a previously stuck process forward.

    From this kind of activity, Gendlin observed that “process-steps have an intricacy and power to change us,” and that, “we have to rethink our basic concepts about the body, feeling, action, language and cognition” to explain this. In the remainder of the article, Gendlin offers ten theoretical propositions in support of this major revision in thought.

    In the first few theoretical propositions, Gendlin writes about the process of finding words to convey the complexity of ‘feelings-and-situations’ in which we human beings find ourselves. The words come first in our bodies, and point to implicit in feelings-and-situations. Like feelings, “must come or we don’t have them. We can remember them and believe they ought to be there. But to have them they must come. And this is always a bodily coming.”

    Gendlin views feelings, thinking, actions and words all primarily as lived experience in the body, and each bodily event as implying what comes next. He calls this ‘carrying forward’ and said, “In therapy we change not into something else, but into more truly ourselves. Therapeutic change is into what that person really ‘was’ all along… it is a second past, read retroactively from now. It is a new ‘was’ made from now.”

    From this new was, steps come that change one’s conception of the past entirely. For example, in my therapy practice, I often work with early-childhood trauma, and uncover felt-senses of traumatic situations that the person, as a child, could not assimilate. Their story of childhood, when they first enter therapy, is often that it was fine and normal, but there is a lack of depth and detail which tells me they are not truly in touch with their inwardly-sensed experience. When, as an adult and with a supportive other, they do attend to the felt sense they carry of this early time, it can open up what has been termed ‘repressed memory.’

    Gendlin’s formulation feels more accurate, as those with a history of repeated trauma often dissociate from their experience. The trauma is not recorded, then forgotten, but rather, not fully experienced in the first place. When, through focusing, the client’s sense of what really happened comes into their body, there is a sense of knowing, a dawning of understanding why they were so withdrawn, anxious or angry as a child. This new ‘was’ makes sense of both how they experienced their childhood and of many of their puzzling reactions in the present. It is a carrying-forward that leads to a radical re-conceptualization of their life situation, and it often precipitates a flood of feeling, insight and re-evaluation.

    Gendlin carefully differentiates feeling from a felt sense. Feelings are often less complex, more recognizable and can be repetitive if nothing surrounding the feeling changes. A felt sense contains the emotion and the whole implicit complexity of a situation. It is “a much larger whole. The implicit situation as a felt sense is a single mesh from which endless detail can be differentiated: what happened to us, what someone did, why that troubled us or made us glad, what was just the also going on… and on.” If a situation feels familiar, repetitive and stuck, Gendlin said “the stuckness is a finely organized sense of why usual ways won’t do, and of what would.” So even our internally-sensed knowledge that something is wrong and feels like it can’t be fixed contains within it an implicit sense of what would carry the situation forward. When something entirely new is called for, the felt sense can lead to highly creative next steps.

    There are many situations that call for novel responses to carry them forward, and the felt sense of this can be quite specific. “An odd situation’s implying is more organized than the usual routines and contains them. The novel implicit is not unrelated to familiar concepts, phrases, and actions. It includes these and exactly why they will not suffice” (Gendlin, 1984). We can’t speculate but must allow the process to unfold, “like an unfinished poem that very finely and exactly requires its next line.”

    The experiential response (1968)

    This article provides clear guidance for therapists in how to help our clients find the equivalent of that precise next line of their unfinished poem. We need to learn to listen in an unobtrusive way that allows them to carry their own experience forward. This process is not a simple reflection of feelings expressed by the client, but rather a reflection of the intricate felt sense; it involves not just about picking up on emotional valence, but more gathering a sense of the whole of what the client is ‘up against’ (Gendlin, 1968), including the history of the issue, thoughts about it, all its complexity. If you, as the therapist, want to support the client in focusing, you need to respond not only to the words as expressed, but to the larger felt sense that underlies the words, and in a way that allows the client to inquire further into what they are sensing. You may try many responses that appear to lead nowhere. What is more important than being right about what might lead to an experiential response is to simply keep responding to how the client reacts next. Saying something like, “That didn’t seem quite right for you… can you sense into what would feel more right?” can help move the process forward as effectively as saying something exactly right, which we can never do all of the time. Saying the wrong thing can even make the felt sense more clear to the client, because they get a clear reaction from their body that says, ‘No, it’s definitely not like that,’ which then brings a sense of what is right.

    The goal in this process is not deeper understanding or a clearer definition of the issue, but a sense of the experience moving forward toward an internal release that changes how the uncomfortable sense is held in the body. When this happens, Gendlin (1968) said there is “a very distinct and unmistakeable feel of ‘give,’ easing, enlivening, releasing.” He called this referent movement but the more current term is felt shift. This is the only reliable sign of progress, and it always feels good, even when what is discovered in the process is not so good.

    After a felt shift, it may be easy to go back and make sense of the progress, but before the felt shift, this would not have been possible. The experiential process itself cannot be predicted and moves forward on non-logical steps. In fact, it is not usual for someone who is focusing to contradict something they said earlier in the process and feel both were right at the time. Focusing can transform the felt sense of a situation so completely what was initially seen as a problem no longer seems to be one.

    Gendlin believed that the most powerful engine for experiencing is interaction, which is why focusing works so much better with another person (although it is possible to have an interaction between oneself and one’s felt sense). Our job as the therapist is to offer our authentic reactions to the client, not our theories or even our wisdom:

    What matters is that the therapist is another human person who responds, and every therapist can be confident that he can always be that. To be that, however, the therapist must be a person whose actual reactions are visible so that the client’s experiencing can be carried further by them…. Only a responsive and real human can provide that. No mere verbal wisdom can.

    This does not mean the therapist’s reactions become the centre of attention; it is only the reactions to what the client is feeling, perceiving and implying that are expressed. At times, when a client has trouble sensing inside or articulating their felt sense, the therapist’s reaction can be the key element in moving the process forward. These responses to our clients don’t always feel clear or good. Gendlin (1968) said, “The therapist cannot expect always to be comfortably in the know. He must be willing to bear being confused and pained, to feel thrown off his stride, to be put in a spot and not find a good, wise, or competent way out.”

    Gendlin felt that the therapist must be more open in their interaction than the focuser would typically experience, and give voice to anything that helps the client “see more clearly what he is up against.” For example, if a client’s responses typically result in rejection by many of those she encounters, the therapist must find a way for the client to succeed where she usually does not. For this to happen, Gendlin believed reassurance or “whitewashing” would not help. “What is bad must be expressed as just as bad as it then is or seems.” However, this honesty must be paired with a response by the therapist to the inherent ‘positive tendency’ Gendlin believed underlies every action.

    Gendlin offered the example of how one might respond to being pressured by a client: “I am feeling pressured by you, and that makes me feel like pushing you away, but that isn’t how I usually feel or want to feel with you. So, we’ll do something to clarify it, resolve it, since that isn’t really how you and I are.” The point is not only to be honest about a challenging reaction, but also to then be willing to carry the interaction further “to a positive, life-maintaining experiential completion which was only implicit and had been stopped and troubled until then.”

    Taken together, these three articles articulate some essential ways that therapists can engender an experiential response in their clients that helps them move forward in areas of their lives that were stuck or causing trouble. In addition, they go beyond mere articulation of method to explain the key aspects of the underlying philosophy that is Gendlin’s major contribution to the theory of psychotherapy.

    Dr. Leslie Ellis is an author, speaker and teacher of focusing for use in therapy, with a special focusing on dreams and trauma. She is vice president and coordinator of The International Focusing Institute. She welcomes feedback and discussion and can be reached at

    Three articles that the world’s top focusing teachers agree are essential:

    Gendlin, E.T. (1984). The client's client: The edge of awareness. In R.L. Levant & J.M. Shlien (Eds.), Client-centered therapy and the person-centered approach. New directions in theory, research and practice, pp. 76-107. New York: Praeger.

    Gendlin, E.T. (1968). The experiential response. In E. Hammer (Ed.), Use of interpretation in treatment, pp. 208-227. New York: Grune & Stratton.

    Gendlin, E.T. (1964). A theory of personality change. In P. Worchel & D. Byrne (eds.), Personality change, pp. 100-148. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  • 14 Apr 2019 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Alex Diaz, PhD

    In any team sport, creating a robust team dynamic is always the greatest challenge for any coach. Team members differ in personality styles, attitudes, motivation, and behaviors. A coach fixated in believing that his message will equally resonate with each player will fail to create a cohesive team approach as individual’s differences are not being considered. To achieve an effective teamwork atmosphere, leaders shine in their ability to unite individuals by seeking a common goal while supporting their emotional behavioral differences.

    An individual’s emotional behavior results from the combination of personal genes and life experiences, both supportive and upsetting. Such experiences mold a neurological imprint in our brains leading to the development of behaviors whose roots lie in implicit, subconscious, emotional memories. These memories cannot be intentionally brought up. According to psychologist Peter Levine, emotional memories are “felt-sense emotions such as surprise, fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and joy.” These memories lie just below the neo-cortex. Giving an oral presentation before a large audience may bring an array of felt-sense emotions, such as calmness or nervousness, which are derived from implicit memories based on prior experiences.

    Hierarchically, our brain develops implicit memories first and explicit ones later. We feel butterflies in the belly and later verbalize them as anxiety. A tennis player, who is serving to win a grand slam match, will feel rapid heartbeats and shallow breathing. If the player is from Australian, such felt sense awareness will be verbalized in English; if the player is from Japan, the same felt sense sensations will be spoken in Japanese. Both players feel implicit memories based on past experiences. Human beings experience non-verbal awareness before sensations turn into a verbal language.

    To be coherent between what we sense and what we express is the result of how emotionally regulated we are. When athletes are asked about the experience of losing a very close game, they rationalize their feelings by either minimizing its emotional content or expressing a rationalization aimed at, subconsciously, diverting the attention from that of feeling upset. An emotionally regulated athlete not only feels the upsetting emotion by embodying a faster heart palpitation, but also by verbalizing it. When leaders attune to the emotional needs of self and others, an implicit level relationship takes place. It is at this implicit human connection that meaningful interactions are forged, bringing trust, safety, healthy relationships.

    Being emotionally met allows for channels of communication to open up between leaders and team members. A team member will be more cooperative if he/she feels an inner sense of trust. In a survey presented at the 2015 World Class Performance Conference, the first leading factor for top Olympic performances rested on the coach-athlete relationship over other factors such as athlete self-awareness and having optimal training environment. In a 2008 Coach Survey Summary Results: Evolution of Athlete Conference, it indicated that focusing on the athlete as a whole person was more valuable than seeking techniques to improve performance.

    On the other hand, when leaders seek inter-connectivity by using explicit language, it leaves a sense of emotional disconnection. Hence, a perceived lack of emotional safety is felt. More importantly, it leads members to having second thoughts about their own self-worth or thinking they have done something wrong. On the other hand, connecting with team members by supporting their hard work or frustration, praising when sincere effort is performed rather than taking such a behavior for granted, and encouraging when mistakes are made lead to promoting a higher sense of understanding and appreciation.

    Holistic approaches aim at self-regulating emotions by eliciting implicit language attunement. Yoga, mindfulness, breathing relaxation, visualization of positive experiences, and somatic psychology embrace connecting at a non-verbal language. These practices help to develop a greater sense of tuning in to our felt-sense awareness and, as such, enhance our capacity to regulate emotions and maintain meaningful relationships.

    At the core of who we are as humans, the emotional connection is what has kept us alive and able to survive for so many years. Whether we are part of a sports or corporate team, we owe it to ourselves to enhance our capacity to regulate emotions at an implicit level as such experiences will only bring a greater sense of human connection and an enhanced present moment awareness.

  • 14 Apr 2019 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jan M. Bergstrom, LMHC, SEP, DaRTT

    It never fails to surprise me that I receive many calls from my clients that are completely stressed out. In my 24 years of practice, I see my clients in a constant state of rev in their nervous system. Rev is when the sympathetic branch of the nervous system gets into a chronic state of hyperarousal. The sympathetic branch regulates arousal and gets us ready for action. So, when you are in a chronic state of sympathetic arousal or rev, the experience of your life feels like “always having the gas pedal on”. Here are some great interventions from my new book called Traveling the Journey Home, coming out this June 2019 for your use during these challenging times. Enjoy!

    Grounding and Centering Practice in Action

    Grounding and Centering are two other practices that reconnect you directly with the resources that are naturally available in your own body. It is important to reestablish your relationship to both the ground and to your body’s center, the place where action and feeling originate. These functions are compromised during trauma reactions. In trauma, you lose your ground, so an important part of healing is learning how to find your ground and center again. As you ground and center yourself before each exercise below, it will help you create a feeling of safety, and a sense that you are in charge. Here is how you do it.

    Grounding Technique

    1. Sitting in a chair, gently push the heels of your feet into the ground. Notice the sensations in your legs when you engage the muscles and release the muscles. Experiment with finding just the right amount of pressure in your feet. 
    2. Bring your awareness to what your feet feel like in your shoes as they are resting on the floor. Wiggle your toes and name the sensations that arise. Become aware of your feet on the ground.
    3. Begin Deep slow breathing – explore pace breathing by Marsha Linehan (Linehan, DBT Skills Training, Handouts and Worksheets, Guilford Press, 2014), where you slowly inhale to a count of five, completely expanding the rib cage and belly, then slowly exhale to a count of seven until your rib cage has contracted and your shoulders have dropped. Do this at least five times. 
    4. Gain physical support from a comfortable chair. Bring your awareness to your buttocks as it sinks into the chair and your back as it is being supported. Name the sensations that arise. Experiment with slumping over and then sitting up straight, lengthening the spine as you do so. Imagine having a string pulling you up straight. Notice any and all sensations as they arise. Does your back hurt? Your vertebrae creak? Can you feel the blood leaving your head? Do you feel taller? More in control? Become aware of each sensation, whether physical or cognitive. Don’t judge these sensations, just greet them.
    5. Focus nonjudgmentally on the sensations you can feel throughout your whole body. Start scanning your feet and slowly move up through your legs, abdomen, torso, into your arms and hands, finishing off at your neck and head. Just allowing whatever shows up to be there.
    6. Tense, then relax your muscles. Try using an exercise ball if you have or can get one. If you don’t have one, try a beanbag, a roll of socks, a crumpled towel—anything that you can hold in your arms or between your legs and squeeze tight, hold for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Notice the sensations and the difference between the engaging muscles and releasing muscles.  

    This same practice can be done with movement, such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga. Take a class and see if you can focus on what is happening in your body moment by moment rather than thinking about your day or what is in the future. If you start thinking about the past or future, don’t worry. Just gently bring yourself back to your body awareness and breathing.

    As with the Mindfulness practice, this Grounding Technique will help you to calm yourself, control your thoughts and triggers, and enable you to bring yourself to the present at will—whenever you find your thoughts and anxieties spiraling into the past or worries of the future.

    The Grounding Technique becomes even more powerful when it is combined with the Centering Technique. This technique is a bit more unique, but every bit as transformative.

    Centering Techniques

    1. Place one hand on your heart and notice what happens in your body when all thoughts are dropped, and you focus on just your hand. Observe the weight of the hand, its temperature, the sensation of the hand itself and the sensation of it resting over your heart. Notice any changes in your breathing, your heartbeat, even the energy you feel in your hand. Visualize in your mind’s eye a warm ball of golden energy swirling around in your hand as it rests upon your heart. 
    2. Keeping your hand on your heart, gently place the other hand on top of your head. Apply a slight pressure on the top of your head to create a sensation of being grounded to the earth. With the hand on your heart, focus on channeling warmth and empathy throughout your body through this hand.

    With practice, you will find these techniques are effective in helping you to gain and remain calm and detaching yourself from the thoughts and memories that haunt you. By learning how to become aware of your thoughts and the sensations they awaken in your body, you will gain mastery over them. 

    Techniques to Help Stay Grounded and Centered

    There always comes a time when you find it hard to stay present with an emotion or body feeling. This is totally normal, and you may find yourself wanting to stop your investigation of the material that is coming up. No problem! In fact, it is important to know when to stop and what to do. I recommend healthy alternatives rather than medicating your feelings by eating, drinking, taking drugs or engaging in self-abusive behaviors. Here are some healthy techniques for staying grounded and centered. You may have heard these suggestions a thousand times and, like anything we hear a thousand times, they may go in one ear and out the other. But this time, try something different., Try at least three of these exercises, just once. Afterwards, reflect on how your body feels, and how your mind feels. Then do them again, another day. You’ll be surprised with the difference such simple activities can have on both your body and your mind.

    1. Go outside and take a walk in your favorite place. If you find your thoughts spinning off into worries as your feet carry you along the pathway, bring your mind back to the moment. Observe the sky above you, the earth below you, the flora and fauna. How many birds can you see? Smile at the people you pass. When you get home, see how many things you can recall from your walk. The more alert you are to the world that surrounds you, the less space there is in your mind for worries.
    2. If you have a dog, take your dog for a walk or go to a dog park. Use the time to truly enjoy your pet’s own joy for the outdoors.
    3. If you have a cat, pet and play with it. There is a reason we call our pets “pets.” Just petting the fur of a dog or cat can have a comforting effect on both the pet and ourselves, as our endorphins are stimulated.
    4. Call a close friend and reach out for support. If you are in recovery, call a fellow member or your sponsor. Be sure to listen and be there for your friend, as much as your friend is there for you. If your friend is unavailable for such an emotional call, don’t judge your friend. They might be in the middle of taking care of their own needs. Ask them to call when they have more time, and call someone else. Remember, we are all struggling. The more thoughtful you are of your friends’ time and needs, the more thoughtful they will be of yours.
    5. Work out moderately at the gym or at home. If you haven’t worked out for some time, start small. If you find yourself watching TV, use the commercial breaks for short spurts of exercise. Try finding a five- or ten-minute YouTube video you can work out with. If you go to the gym, start with twenty minutes, work up to half an hour, and make a fifty-minute workout three times a week your goal. Don’t push yourself too hard. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll get there.
    6. Dance to your favorite music, journal your feelings, draw or use some medium for an artistic expression of what you are feeling. Indulge in your playful side. You never lost it—you just learned to ignore it as you matured. Let it out!
    7. Move your body and open your arms and spread them out to create a circle. Experiment with expanding the size of this ‘container’ until it is “big enough” to hold all the feelings and sensations or “all of the parts” of your pain. 
    8. Use your body to put one palm on the side of each knee: push arms against the outer part of the knees while simultaneously pushing out with the legs. Or use the arms to push against the side of the body. This creates resistance and engages your muscles to fight back, which can give you a feeling of empowerment.
    9. If you have a flashback or start to dissociate or “fade out,” become aware or what is called “orienting” to the external environment (or room). This technique can be a helpful way to “come back” into the room. To do it, just choose and describe three things in the room that you like and reflect on why like them.
    10. You can also turn your head and neck and slowly as you focus on objects in the window, the wall, the door, the lamp, the bookcase. Or focus on objects that might be comforting such as your most favorite object, or cues that tell you where you are.

    Mind’s Eye Imagery

    Mind’s eye imagery is a technique that draws on images to calm and ground the body. Remember all these resources I’m referring to are those internal or external cues that help you to find a safe place to return to when you become triggered as you navigate through your childhood trauma. 

    I usually ask my clients to think of a time in their life when they traveled somewhere, had a favorite animal they loved, connected with someone special and experienced a felt sense of calm, acceptance, grounding, centeredness, and safety. Once they find this experience (or several experiences), I ask them to write them down. These visual image resources will be used throughout the rest of the book for any of the processes that we journey through. They will act as anchors. An anchor is like a ballast. It gives stability in times of need. And that is just what you are seeking.

    Mind’s Eye Imagery Practice in Action

    While in this grounded and embodied state, sit somewhere where you are comfortable, and close your eyes to contemplate these scenes below. Allow yourself at least a minute for each scene. Notice your felt sense or bodily sensations. See if you can put words to them. Some examples might be: calm, relaxed, soft, warm, centered, tight, airy, spinning, or whatever words describe the sensations. Remember, don’t judge the sensations—just find a word that best describes the sensations you feel as you contemplate the scenes that follow.

    1. Sitting on your favorite beach listening to the ocean waves
    2. Hiking up your favorite mountain, reaching the top overlooking a beautiful valley
    3. Looking across the Grand Canyon and the river that flows through it
    4. Being on a tropical island 
    5. Sitting in a cozy cottage with a warm fire burning in the fireplace, the snow gently falling outside

    Did these scenes calm you? Excite you? What changed in your internal state as you contemplated these scenes? Did you find one that brought you instant calm? If you didn’t, think of a time when you were traveling or in nature and you loved what you were seeing and feeling. If so, you have created a room in your mind where you can find instant comfort. When stressed, anxious or triggered, go to this place and relax. There’s no admission to be paid, no taxes or mortgages you must come up with, no applications to fill out. This place is yours, available to you whenever and wherever you find yourself. Welcome!

  • 12 Apr 2019 6:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Dr. Cedar Barstow,  M.Ed., C.H.T., D.P.I.

    Power, simply the ability to have an effect or to have influence, is a magnetic, addictive, and corrupting force. Research shows that taking on higher role power or having higher rank power inevitably changes you. You are given gifts, actually privileges, from the outside world that change how you see yourself, how you see and relate to others, and how they see and relate to you. The greater the power difference the greater the effect. These privileges change you whether your intentions are for service or for selfish gain.

    What is it about power that is corrupting? Why are we so corruptible?

    These are questions that Julie Diamond asks in Power, A User’s Guide (Diamond, 2016. It gets right down to the bottom of things. Power is the ability to have an effect or to have influence. We all have power. Even a baby has power. Think about the effect of a baby's cry or a baby's laugh. This is personal power. It is personal and unique. It is part of part of our identity. We may use it wisely and well. We, or the people around us, may inflate it or diminish our awareness or access to it, but as long as we are alive we have the ability to have an effect.

    It is another kind of power that is corrupting—role power. Role power is the increased power that is embedded in a role or position you are given. Your role power is not your identity. Your role power is like a scarf or mantle of extra power that is added on to your personal power. It is attached to the role and should come off and on with the role. Teachers, Clergy, Therapists, Presidents, CEOs, Policemen, Politicians are roles that come with increased power. The power that comes with higher rank also changes people and how others experience them. Rank power can also be corrupting. Wealth, higher education, experience, celebrity, white, male and even parenting are examples of higher rank. In summary, personal power is immutable, role power is earned, won, or assigned, and rank power is mutable by culture and is sometimes earned. In this article the primary focus is on the privileges of role power and how to mediate the perils. (Barstow, 2015, p. 303-307) Some of the greatest perils of power come from the tendency to blend personal, role, and rank powers instead of seeing role and rank as add-ons to personal power.

    Here's a taste of research that describes some of the changes power brings. Studies show that once people assume positions of power, they’re likely to act more selfishly, impulsively, and aggressively, and they have a harder time seeing the world from other people’s points of view. Dacher Keltner calls this the paradox of power: "The skills most important to obtaining power and leading effectively are the very skills that deteriorate once we have power” (Keltner, 2007). These skills (what most people want from leaders) are characteristics of what could be called social intelligence: modesty, empathy, engagement with the needs of others, and skill in negotiating conflict, enforcing norms, and allocating resources fairly. (Barstow, 2015, p. 316-318).

    [In another study,] when researchers give people power in scientific experiments, those people are more likely to physically touch others in potentially inappropriate ways, to flirt in more direct fashion, to make risky choices and gambles, to make first offers in negotiations, to speak their mind, and to eat cookies like the Cookie Monster, with crumbs all over their chins and chests (as quoted in Keltner, 2008, Barstow, 317-318).

    Research shows that power leads people to act in impulsive fashion, both good and bad, and to fail to understand other people’s feelings and desires. . . . 

    For instance, studies have found that people given power in experiments are more likely to rely on stereotypes when judging others, and they pay less attention to the characteristics that define those other people as individuals. Predisposed to stereotype, they also judge others’ attitudes, interests, and needs less accurately. . . . Power encourages individuals to act on their own whims, desires, and impulses. . . . Perhaps more unsettling is the wealth of evidence that having power makes people more likely to . . . interrupt others, to speak out of turn, and to fail to look at others who are speaking. . . . Surveys of organizations find that most rude behaviors—shouting, profanities, bald critiques—emanate from the offices . . . of individuals in positions of power (Keltner, 2008, Barstow, p. 318).

    Some additional research does indicate that people with a moral center made up of attitudes and values such as kindness, humility, honesty, respect and fairness, are less affected by the corrupting effects of elevated power (Lammer, Stapel, 2009, pp 279-289).

    I find this information both unsettling and liberating. I have long wrestled with how to understand what is called evil. With an infusion of empathy and compassion, I see, through the lens power, that, not only do we all have the capacity to misuse power, but we are all subject to the addictive trance of elevated power that reduces our empathy and inhibitions and pulls us toward prioritizing our own needs and interests because our higher role or rank allows us to. It takes a mighty commitment to self-awareness and the well-being of all to be able to mitigate these effects. This is a life-long engagement with understanding and refining your impact on others.

    We have all, mostly inadvertently, caused harm in minor and sometimes major ways, and we have all been hurt by misuses and abuses of power. This is human. I'm thinking of the teacher who says she was open to feedback but gets defensive and angry when she hears critical words; the therapist who has an emotional affair with his client; the CEO who begins to think of her employees as simply cogs in a wheel; the doctor who offers choices without medically evaluating the options; the banker who makes money from giving a bad loan; the policeman who privileges people with rank; the parent who offers authority with no love, or love with no authority; the Priest who mixes up love relationships with congregant relationships; or the politician who thinks only of re-election strategies rather than what is best for her constituents.

    I wonder how many of these could have been reduced or prevented if this information about the corrupting nature of power were part of everyone's basic education.

    Why are we so corruptible

    This is the second part of Julie Diamond's question (Diamond, 2016, p. 49 ff.). She goes on to say that "Something happens to us like being under the influence of drugs. . . . This creates a deadly cocktail of opportunity and immunity." Since everyone is affected, we need to take a moment to feel compassion for ourselves as human beings. We are all vulnerable to the deteriorating effects of elevated power. The greater the power difference, the stronger the effects, and the more tempting the perils. 

    I'd like to take you on a journey to help you understand more about how the changes that come with power feel and the impact they have on you. Disneyland has a ride called Thunder Mountain. Now, please imagine that, with a group of other leaders, you are climbing not Thunder Mountain but Power Mountain. You are excited. You've just been given a role with increased power. You want to use it for the good of all. The higher you walk, the further away the village and the villagers look. The higher you climb, the greater your role power and the greater the power difference 

    between you and the people you are responsible for. You climb up the path, for example, from student to graduate student to teacher to assistant professor to dean to college president. The higher you get the greater the view and the rarer the air.* 

    Along the way you will receive four gifts or privileges that will support you in doing your job and fulfilling the responsibilities of your role. These are the four gifts that power gives to everyone, no matter what their intention. These are the gifts that will impact and change you, inevitably. You have not earned these gifts of power, although you may have earned the power role. They are not given because you are good or bad. Each weaves its own spell. 

    Receive now your first gift, symbolized by a coin: Access to resources and opportunities, including money, people, information, supplies, and control. The functional leadership purpose of this gift is to provide you with the support you need to fulfill the responsibilities of your role. As you take in this gift, notice how this alters your inner experience and how you see others. What perils can you feel or imagine? 

    Receive now your second gift, symbolized by a scarf that you put around your neck: You become bigger than yourself. You are bigger because, to others, you are now a role--an add-on to your personhood. The needed leadership purpose of this gift is to provide you with the increased ability to have an effect and to have the influence that you will need to fulfill your role. As you embody a role in addition to being a person, notice your inner experience and how others may see you. What perils can you feel or imagine? 

    Receive now your third gift, a piece of paper with slits cut in it to symbolize changes in your vision and how you are seen: You gain social distance and prerogative to enable you to see the big picture and not get too caught up in the details or with individuals. As you take on more distance, notice your inner experience and how it changes your perceptions of others. What perils can you feel or imagine? 

    Receive now your fourth gift, symbolized by a wand: Freedom to act with limited interference, and significant immunity from the impacts. This will allow you to make decisions in a timely and direct way. As you feel this freedom and immunity, notice your inner experience and how you approach making decisions and taking action. What perils can you feel or imagine? 

    Now you have reached the top of the mountain. You hold your gifts. You are at the summit. You have a great deal of role power. The gifts enable you to do your job. They are privileges and they are empowering. Take a minute to notice what they allow and help you to do. They also change you in corrupting ways. Take a minute to get a sense of the perils that come with the advantages. Notice the magnetic pull toward being self-serving, toward less empathy, toward impulsiveness and control. 

    Here at the top of Power Mountain you must choose how you will use these gifts. The gifts pull like a magnet toward being self-serving. When you have so much intoxicating power, why would you choose to use it in service to others? As in Star Wars where the dark and the light are of the same genetic pool, you must choose. 

    Here's where you get to decide whether or not you will fully embrace and say "yes" to your role and rank power. This is a humbling and sacred moment. You can decide that your good intentions will be enough ensure your right uses of power. You can take a "wait and see" attitude and let bumpy experiences be your teacher. You can decide to pretend these negative aspects don't exist or don't apply to you. You can make power itself the enemy and deny that you have greater power. You can choose to use your power in the service of your own wealth, fame, and ego-gratification. Or you can let the impact of the drug of power pull you to use your 

    powers for wealth, fame, control, or self- aggrandizement. Or you can make the most challenging and ultimately rewarding choice: owning and using your role power in service of others and for the good of all. 

    Here's an interesting thing: only if you choose socially responsible power, do you need to understand both the gifts and perils and how they are affecting you. (To misuse your power, you do not need to know the intentions and strategies for right use of power.) If you don't choose to monitor and mediate your own shadow tendencies and vulnerabilities, you will blindly and inevitably misuse your power. Power is a strong teacher. You will have many opportunities to look again at this choice. 

    If you are paying attention, you will be able to take advantage of the great teachings power has to offer you through mistakes, self-reflection, and self-correction. Your relationship with power is a life-long engagement with your impact, vulnerabilities, limitations, and mistakes. This relationship with power, in itself, will prove to be an extra gift. What do you choose? 

    Next we descend and return to the village where you can find out more about how you are changed and how differently you are responded to. One more thing. Choosing to understand both the privileges and perils of increased power is surely and deeply humbling. Humility is an under- acknowledged value for leaders, and yet, honored and appreciated by those they serve. "If you don't have a way to incorporate the humbling experiences that come with elevated power, you will have to depend on your role alone to carry through or to legitimize your behavior" (Rosenholtz, private conversation, 2016). 

    Here is a chart that describes, in the left column, the perils that come with the four gifts and privileges. The right column lists some activities that can help empower you and also mediate the changes, temptations, habits, and tendencies. This is a big light to shine on territory that has not been much named or explored. Be compassionate and curious as you look over this chart. In the perils side of the chart, think about harm caused by over-uses, under-uses or unconscious uses of power from your own life experience or that you have heard of or read about. Thoughtfully notice several perils that you may be particularly vulnerable to in your work in the world. Then look at the mediating activities and make a commitment to be self-aware and pro-active. 

    A few reminders as you look at this chart. First of all, since power has a neutral meaning of the ability to have an effect or to have influence, it is not power itself that is corrupting. It is role power that changes us. As Julie Diamond puts it, "Something happens to us when we step into roles of power: its like being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or having someone cast a magic spell that alters our perceptions and emotions. As though slipping on Sauron's Ring of Power, when we step into a position of power, we think, feel, and behave differently. The role itself allows for its own corruption. It is a magic that must be carefully 

    managed" (Diamond, 2016, p. 31). 

    The second reminder is that your personal power is the foundation that you need to stand on, rest in, and be nourished by. Personal power is what we all need to do things, to accomplish our goals, and to engage well with other people, and to make the world a better place. Role power "is based on the external, [while] personal power is self-sourced. . . .Your personal power can thus be independent of the validation of others. In fact, it is the only power that can transfer from context to context" (Diamond, 2016, p. 63). "Cultivating personal power starts with knowing and valuing who you are. Growing our personal power is our greatest asset for good and strongest weapon against the corrupting influence of power" (Diamond, 2016, p. 67). 

    The third reminder is compassion: compassion for ourselves, compassion for others. We are all affected by the magic spell of role or rank power. We all feel its pull toward being self- serving and less empathetic. The news is overloaded with horrific examples and images of abuses of power. And yet, most people care about the well-being of those close to them and have good intentions at heart. Again, drawing on Julie Diamond's wisdom, although "corruption implies an illegal act, it also refers to non-conscious, unintended, unpremeditated acts that break or stretch social and relational bonds, and in so doing, inflict harm. . . .By and large these are unconscious actions carried out by someone with high rank, good intentions, and benign neglect" (Diamond, 2016, p. 51). 

    Understanding the spell of role and rank power is one of the primary reasons for working with this chart. 

    Each bullet point ( • ) on this chart is a nugget to which numerous stories and examples could be added. 


    About the Author
    Cedar Barstow, member of the USABP, is the Founder and Director of the Right Use of Power Institute
    she has been designing, developing, and teaching this approach since 1994. Two books explore these ideas in depth. Right Use of Power:  The Heart of Ethics is a resource for people in the helping professionals. Living in the Power Zone: How Right Use of Power Can Transform Your Relationships, written with her husband, Reynold Ruslan Feldman is right use of power for everyone. Internationally,  she  offers Right Use of Power (RUP) workshops and trains' others to present their own RUP programs, and develop e-courses and other materials.  She also serves as a consultant in ethics and power issues for individuals, groups, and organizations.  

  • 12 Apr 2019 4:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Sharon P. Austin, PsyD

    Currently, tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are the fastest growing vector-borne diseases in the US. Statistics on Lyme Disease, the most prevalent TBD, estimate over 300,000 new cases of Lyme every year in the US alone, with some estimates up to one million/year, 40% of these are children.  This is not including all the possible coinfections (e.g., Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Bartonella), which are also transmitted by ticks. The Lyme pathogen has been reported in all 50 states.

    We must therefore anticipate many of our clients who have either moved from high endemic areas with TBDs, or have traveled to such areas have a greater likelihood of having contracted a tick-borne disease unknowingly.  Without early detection TBDs can evolve into multi-staged and multi-systemic illnesses that mimic and/or coincide with many medical and psychological conditions.  Two of the primary symptoms are chronic pain and fatigue. “Chronic” TBDs wreak havoc on couples, families and individuals.  Mental health practitioners can play a critical role in helping clients and their families navigate the complexity of these diseases.

     The challenges faced by clients with TBDs are daunting.  Some examples include:

    1)     Chronic TBDs are often not considered a common or legitimate medical condition.  This can mean clients often do not receive adequate support from their practitioners, friends, family or employers.
    2)     Thus far there is no reliable test for the various strains of the Lyme pathogen and the co-infections.
    3)     Outdated beliefs have a negative effect on treatment.  These include: 
    a)     Lyme disease testing is seen as reliable
    b)    Lyme disease is hard to catch
    c)     Lyme disease is easily treated
    d)    One can feel a tick bite
    e)    Lyme disease always presents with a bull’s eye rash
    4)     TBD symptoms may not be apparent for weeks, months or years. The early symptoms may appear flu-like, therefore dismissed.  Undetected pathogens can then spread throughout the body.
    5)     Because of the complexity of the symptom profile from one individual to another and no standard treatment protocol, treatment at various stages of the disease can have mixed results.  Recovery is often complicated and confusing.
    6)     Financially TBDs can be devastating from loss of employment, denial of insurance and disability and cost of treatments. One estimate of the financial burden is $1.3 billion/year in medical costs but could be as high as $50-100 billion annual drain on the US economy. Chronic TBDs can cause a wide range of symptoms with relapsing/remitting patterns.  These can include:

                Joint and muscle pain         Extreme fatigue

                Facial nerve palsy                  Meningitis

                Carditis                                      Recurrent fevers, chills, night sweats

                Headaches                                Sensory sensitivities

                Sleep disturbances                 Dizziness, low blood pressure

                Visual impairments                 Gastrointestinal disorders

                Neuropathic pain syndromes

                Susceptibility to autoimmune conditions


    “Neurological Lyme” is particularly problematic for children and adults alike.  Symptoms under this category can include any of the above symptoms concurrent with reduced functioning in the following areas: 

                Speech and language skills     “Brain fog”

                Memory & concentration       Information processing

                Multi-tasking abilities             Comprehension


                Irritability                                Depression

                New onset ADHD                    Mood swings

                Anxiety, Panic & OCD             Suicidal ideation

                Oppositional Defiant              Declining school performance           


    Clinical studies suspect possibly one third of psychiatric clients show signs of past infection with the Lyme pathogen.  As psychotherapists we can provide a vital role for these clients as we may be the first to detect the possibility of TBDs as a cause of psychiatric conditions. 

    Given the likely epidemic of TBDS, we could ask additional questions when there are confusing, numerous and waxing and waning symptoms.  These include:

    -       Have you lived in or traveled to high endemic areas?
    -       Have you ever been bitten by a tick?
    -       Did you have a rash? Treatment?
    -       Do you have a positive family history of TBDs?

    For clients with chronic TBDs, we must be aware of dual diagnoses between psychological and medical conditions.  Their presentation may be more than their trauma histories driving the physical symptoms.  It may be more than “schoolitis” or problematic parenting.  We have been trained to recognize how trauma resides in our bodies and how critical attachment experiences are.  Yet we must be willing to look at an even bigger picture that includes the role of infections such as those transmitted by ticks. 

    Although we cannot advise on medical or nutritional treatment we can counsel clients on factors that may be exacerbating their physical and emotional conditions.  We help clients be accountable to many wellness factors such as regular medical check-ups, good nutrition, exercise & sleep hygiene, challenging negative thoughts and maintaining healthy relationships.  All of these factors are critical for clients with chronic TBDs. We can also facilitate communication amongst providers. Most of all, as Terry Tempest Williams says so beautifully:

    The unexpected action of deep listening

    can create a space of transformation

    capable of shattering complacency and despair”

    We are trained to listen, be a witness, stay attuned and be patient for our client’s story to unfold.  In a time of numerous doctors, multiple assessments resulting in inconclusive diagnoses, uncertain medical treatment and outcomes clients of all ages with chronic TBDs need our comforting presence and our message, “I believe you and I’m with you!”

    These are a few helpful resources:,,,,

    About the Author
    Dr Sharon Austin is a Clinical Psychologist in Fort Collins, CO specializing in Somatic psychotherapy for couples, trauma and chronic medical conditions.  In addition she practices Gestalt Equine Assisted Therapy.  She is a volunteer for the CO Tick-Borne Diseases Awareness Association (COTBDAA) and she is an Ambassador for the Global Lyme Alliance.  She is a Mom of two college students and co-hobby farm owner with her husband, tending to their horses, sheep, dogs and chickens.  Dr. Austin can be reached at or 970-493-4093.



  • 4 Feb 2019 5:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the NARM Training Institute.

    In June 2018, nearly 40 years after the APA controversially yet officially recognized Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)as a mental disorder that required clinical treatment, the World Health Organization released the ICD-11 including a new diagnosis: Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

    This diagnosis has the potential to completely revolutionize the world of mental health.

    Understanding the long-term impact of unresolved early trauma is indeed a world health issue.  Attachment, relational and developmental trauma – which crosses all cultures, religions and communities – impacts the neurobiological development of children and creates life-long patterns of disorganization within the body, mind and relationships.  Perhaps a greater understanding of Complex Trauma can help us understand the underlying causes of the disorders our clients are struggling with, in addition to the increasing social challenges like substance abuse, systemic injustice and violence.  A trauma-responsive perspective brings great hope.

    While PTSD evolved the field of psychology in a major way nearly 40 years ago, those of us that have worked in this field know that there are limitations to the diagnosis and the treatments addressing it.  C-PTSD helps us evolve our understanding of trauma.  Now that C-PSTD has been officially recognized, the next step is to finding treatments that are specifically geared to addressing Complex Trauma. 

    Many of us have experienced frustration with clients dealing with complex trauma due to their lack of progress in therapy, as well as those clients who make good progress only to regress back to old, stuck patterns of self-sabotage, hopelessness and despair.  These are usually the clients that therapists bring to consultation. 

    The question we as NARM consultants get asked repeatedly – how can I most effectively help my client?

    To answer this, let’s revisit The ACEs Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences).  The ACEs Study has a fascinating origin.  Originally, it was designed as a weight-loss program until the head of the program, Dr. Vincent Felitti, observed that despite making successful gains toward their weight-loss goals, nearly 50% of the participants were dropping out.  This did not make sense to Dr. Felitti at the time: why participants would leave the program as they were losing weight and coming close to meeting their weight-loss goals.  He created a questionnaire to understand this phenomenon and discovered that a majority of those that dropped-out had experienced childhood trauma.  Thus began the monumental research project we now refer to as the ACEs Study.

    One fascinating aspect here is the underlying mechanism of self-sabotage.  One would think that the closer a participant got to their goals the more motivated they would be to complete their program.  But whether it’s weight loss, or a student dropping out their senior year of college just a few credits shy of graduating, or someone who has been sober and returns to their substance use, we see so many examples of people getting closer to health, wellness and success turn to behaviors that are self-sabotaging and self-destructive.

    We are now unwinding this puzzle through recognizing the “survival” function of shame and self-hatred.  As young children, everything revolves around staying connected to our caregivers via attachment – this is essential for our basic survival and well-being.  When there has been failure, whether from our caregivers or from the environment, our basic survival is threatened.  A child is unable to experience themselves as being a good person in a bad situation.  Therefore, unconsciously, psychobiological mechanisms turn on to assure our basic survival.  A main survival strategy is what we might refer to as shame and self-hatred; that children experience themselves as bad as a way to protect themselves from their failures of their caregivers and/or environment.

    One of the things we have observed in consulting many somatic-oriented therapists internationally is that despite very effective and powerful somatic work, therapeutic process still gets thwarted without recognizing and working directly with the survival-based developmental strategies.  Clients begin to get better and then repeatedly have set-backs or sabotage it in a number of ways.  Going back to the original weight-loss program, something is threatening about moving forward in life toward greater health and well-being.  That something is the way we learned to protect our early caregivers and environment through foreclosing fundamental aspects of ourselves, even if those fundamental aspects are positive like growth, healing and aliveness.

    So what does this have to do with somatic therapy?  What happens when a client is moving toward greater embodiment, self-regulation and empowerment (“bottom-up”), but we fail to recognize the underlying shame-based wounds that have led to the dysfunctional strategies, behaviors and symptoms?  Or for traditional, talk-based therapists, what happens when we work with the psychodynamics of shame, self-hatred and self-sabotage (“top-down”) without shifting the physiological and emotional patterns that are fueling the self-limiting beliefs and behaviors?  And, what happens when we are working with early attachment wounds and don’t recognize our own countertransference (our own unresolved trauma patterns and triggers) and how this impacts the therapeutic process?  

    The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is a therapeutic approach designed to work with the unresolved wounds and patterns leftover from early trauma.  This integrated “top-down” (psychodynamic-based) and “bottom-up” (somatic-based) approach works with the psychobiological patterns of shame and self-hatred within a deeply mindful, relational context.  With a framework that identifies the developmental wounds from early trauma, our clients have a possibility of moving forward unencumbered by these unconscious survival strategies that have come to dominate their lives.  Freedom from childhood trauma is possible 

    While research on this is still in its infancy, we at the NARM Training Institute are buoyed by clinical reports and early research demonstrating how effective the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is in resolving attachment, relational and developmental trauma.  We have trained thousands of mental health clinicians throughout North America and Europe, and are rapidly expanding our NARM training programs throughout the world and online.

    If you have clients that are struggling from unresolved early trauma and would like more information on how to provide more effective therapeutic support for your clients, we invite you to learn more about the NeuroAffective Relational Model in our online or live training formats.  

    To learn more about this revolutionary method to treat this paradigm-shifting diagnosis:

    Visit NARM

  • 4 Feb 2019 5:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Alice Kahn Ladas, EdD, CBT, lic. Psychologist, NM-505-471-6791

    Before I talk about early Coping Strategies and how they can sabotage connection, I would like to review, briefly, what I have observed happening in the Reichian branch of body psychotherapy over the past 65 years. Contemporary brain research confirms the mind-body relationship and has brought psychotherapy around to what Reich was discovering almost a century ago. Until his work challenged Viennese cultural norms and they threw him out, Reich was Freud’s star pupil. The reasons for Reich being attacked in he USA remains unclear. Conflicting versions of that story are reflected in two books, Mickey Sharaf’s Fury On Earth and James Martin’s Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War. Was it McCarthy, European Emigree Psychiatrists, Russia or all of them combined?

    I am probably the oldest member of USABP, the living person who has been involved with Body Psychotherapy for the longest time and the only current member of USABP who met in person the physician who brought this form of body psychotherapy to the United States. To further connect our start with our present here is a quote from Reich’s Brief to the US Court of Appeals in 1951.

    “Not protection of old financial or
    Political privileges, but safeguarding the
    Planet, Earth, and transforming its
    Technological structure is the task of today.
    Let us hope that the great industrial powers
    Of our planet have retained their pioneering spirit.”

    People often ask how come I am in relatively good shape at my august age and I have given the usual answers: luck, genes, diet, exercise. Now I add Body Psychotherapy. Most questioners have no clue as to what that means which gives me the opportunity to tell them. Encountering the work of Reich and many of those who followed him were, for me, life changing and I am forever grateful.

    I attended my first Conference at Orgonon in 1948 and was personally examined by Reich in 1951 in order to be on the staff of his Infant Research Center. That same year, I brought orgone therapist, Dr. Alan Cott, to meet Mrs. Roosevelt because Reich believed, at the time, that Orgone energy might counteract the effects of nuclear radiation. Mrs. R ran the information by Robert Oppenheimer who said it is probably a hoax. That same year Reich learned he was wrong: the combination proved destructive.

    Reich has the distinction of being the only person to have his books burned by both the Nazis and the United States, as well as being on Russia’s top hit list. I was around for the book burning and destruction of Reich’s scientific equipment but did not turn in my books or orgone accumulator. I still have those precious ancient possessions. But I left the field of psychotherapy for several years--the event was so appalling.

    In 1955, I returned to join the study group of Lowen and Pierrakos and began introducing Lowen at his public lectures. My suggestion they form a not-for-profit organization was greeted favorably. After introducing Al to his first publisher, and writing the first brochure, I joined the original Board of five and remained there for many years. I also served on the Board of USABP from 2000 to 2007. So I have been involved in Body Psychotherapy for a VERY LONG time.

    Reich relied on patients words at the start of therapy but very little after that. He did it to the patient and was highly evaluative. If you want to know exactly how one person’s therapy went, A.E. Hamilton kept a diary of his sessions, although Reich told his patients not to. I rescued that diary from a snowdrift and you can read it in three J.s of Orgonomy, 31(1) (2)1997 and 32 (1).

    Following Freud’s dictum that only medical doctors could practice psychoanalysis, Orgonomy was also initially restricted to physicians. So Lowen got his medical degree before inventing his own version of Body Psychotherapy. Stanley Keleman was part of that original group. So were many others with whose names you are familiar.

    I had therapy sessions with both Lowen and Pierrakos and can testify they followed Reich’s pattern of evaluating and doing it to the patient until a highly qualified psychiatrist-patient screwed up his courage to ask “Would you like to know what is happening to me?” After much internal struggle, Bioenergetic Analysis gradually moved towards doing the work together, a collaborative adventure based on connection. But it involved a huge struggle and a lot of hurt feelings.

    For many years, there was such a strong emphasis on feelings that thinking was virtually cast aside…understandable since feelings had been neglected for eons. My article, "Using Goals in Bioenergetic Analysis," was rejected by the Bioenergetic Journal and published instead by The American Assoc. of Psychotherapists. But I believe and suspect you do too, that both feelings AND thoughts matter. My friend, colleague and founder of Radix™, Charles Kelley, discovered, to his dismay, that his seminars on feeling were well attended but those on purpose were not.

    A related pattern concerns research. Yale Professor, Dr. John Bellis, was forced to resign in 1961 as Director of Training partly because he wanted to include a research project as one of the requirements for becoming a Certified Bioenergetic Analyst. The research project of my husband Harold and myself, "Women and Bioenergetic Analysis," was disowned by IIBA until the CT Society published it. At my insistence, it was included as an appendix in our NY Times bestseller The G Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality. The study, presented as "From Freud Through Hite, All Partly Wrong and Partly Right," at a meeting of SSSS, was what led to meeting our coauthors, the researchers Whipple and Perry. As a result, readers from 18 countries and almost as many languages have the opportunity to learn about Body Psychotherapy.

    After 40 years of failing to persuade IIBA to establish awards for research, I joined the Board of USABP in 2000. They established two --one for practitioners and one for students--and, in 2008, named those awards after me. Unless we publish research in peer-reviewed journals other than our own, Body Psychotherapy is unlikely to get the recognition it deserves. Said Murray Bowen, in a 1980 speech entitled Psychotherapy: Past Present and Future, “A theory is just a theory until it is validated by research.” This September 2018, the new director of APA sent me an email confirming Bowen’s statement. He wrote to me saying he is not familiar with Body Psychotherapy.

    Recent brain research not only confirms that working with the body is vital but that we need to engage all parts of our brain in order to recover and grow. Since my involvement with Reich and Bioenergetics, many other very helpful methods of body psychotherapy have evolved. Now that we include the brain, as an organ to address consciously, along with other parts of our bodies, we have the opportunity to include both the thinking and feeling parts of that organ, along with the primitive section that tells us to continue doing what we once did to accommodate and stay safe in our family and culture of origin.

    It took me more than 60 years to come up with the idea I want to share now. Many of you work with similar concepts; it is the manner and timing of working with it that differs. I have found it exponentially increases the effectiveness of what I was already doing. Had any of my therapists, verbal or body-centered, said to me at the start of therapy “What did you do to adapt to your family and culture of origin?” we might have discovered precisely what to work on and saved lots of money and time. One of my present goals is to teach this work to other clinicians before I get too old. If you think what I write today has merit, invite me to do a workshop.

    Following the medical model, we give diagnoses. Theoretically, these lead to the best methods of treatment; and get paid by insurances. My diagnosis made me feel less than worthy. Wouldn’t you rather be told there is something right about you than something wrong? By focusing early on a client’s coping strategy in the family and culture into which she/he was born and viewing it as lifesaving, you make clients right. That helps promote the positive client/therapist relationship so crucial to all successful therapy.

    When clients become aware of what they had to do to cope in their family and culture of origin, it is often what they are still doing which prevents them from experiencing the kind of life they long for today. Were they freezing, running away? hiding? fighting, afraid to reach, stealing? If it helped them survive they were doing something right.

    Early coping strategies show up in bodies just as clearly as they do in words. These early questions are not a replacement for bodywork. They facilitate it. “If we decide to work together and are successful, what will that look like?” is on my written form for new clients. Some can answer that question and others can’t. Since intention plays an important role in the success of therapy, I have been seeking a written answer to that question for years. Today I ask a second more difficult question early on: “In your family and culture of origin, what did you do to get along?” Since early coping strategies are often partly, if not wholly, unconscious, this can take time. Once we identify it, we know what to work on. What they did then was useful but today it gets in the way of what they long for. I view their adaptation as "right" instead of "wrong." After identifying a client’s early coping strategy (and I say client instead of patient deliberately), I warn that changing a way of responding that was once lifesaving but no longer works, is as difficult as changing any other kind of compulsive behavior. The amygdala warns us not to change any behavior that once kept us safe. It does not understand you are no longer trapped in a situation you did not choose. Pay attention to what triggers that initial coping strategy. Take small steps to modify your response to the trigger. Instead of reacting, take a breath and act in order to get what you need today. Be patient, and expect you will have to deal with anxiety, possibly severe anxiety, as you make the changes needed to create the life you seek today.

    We discuss and practice many ways of handling anxiety. You know all of them.…keeping knees soft, opening stuck breathing, noticing your present surroundings, exercising, hitting, meditating, or going over the Bioenergetic stool if that was part of your training. We also do whatever is needed to free up energy blocks or increase energy. This can involve diet, exercise, stopping or adding meds, sleep patterns, new forms of brain stimulation, medical cannabis, etc.. Below is a list of possible questions to use in discovering your clients or your early coping mechanism. You might try them on a willing colleague or friend or on your clients. I hope you will find this approach as helpful as I have.

    Questions and suggestions from the therapist

    If we decide to work together and are successful, what would that look like? How might your life be different?

    Tell me how you coped with or kept yourself safe during your early years in your family and culture of origin?

    Where and how, in your behavior and your body, does this way of keeping safe manifest today?

    Would you like to modify or change your early way of staying safe because it no longer helps you be or get what you want?

    If you modified your early response, would that make you feel anxious?

    (The primitive part of your brain will tell you not to alter any behavior that kept you safe before so you may feel very anxious.)

    How will you deal with the anxiety?

    (Please be patient with yourself if you are not able to change as fast as you would like)

    For homework, please write a detailed description of what you did to stay safe in your family and culture of origin. Then write about how that behavior may be keeping you from creating what you would like to in your life today.

    If you are working with a couple, it is very useful to have each person write about their own early way of coping and also their partners way of coping. They can then compare their understanding of themselves and each other to see if they fully understand both their own coping strategies and those of their partner. That helps them recognize when their partners are triggered and to act rather than react.

    A warning is in order: Often the coping mechanisms are not fully conscious or even unconscious, so it may take time to unearth them correctly.

  • 4 Feb 2019 4:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Sheila Rubin, Co-founder of the Center For Healing Shame

    My client was a high functioning professional. During our many months of therapy she spoke of numerous times in her life when she felt too awkward or too shy or too depressed when she felt put down by people in her family or at work. She had a part of her that believed that something was wrong with her. And yet there was another part of her from long ago that knew that what was going on in her family was not right. And that part had been frozen in shame. All her emotions and her life forward direction stayed stuck and frozen in that shame/trauma bubble.

    My client had come in because she had heard Bret and I discuss healing shame on the Sounds True Self-Acceptance Summit in 2017. Listening to us talk about shame, she realized that she had done years of therapy but had never addressed her deepest issue. As she said: “I always thought there was something wrong with me!” She had kept getting more and more training in her field because she never knew when she would feel inferior and have to back up her work. And she had not dated at all because if anyone wanted to go out with her, she would wonder what was wrong with them!

    * * *

    NOTE: Transformance is a term coined by Diana Fosha, developer of AEDP, to describe “the force in the psyche that’s moving towards growth and expansion and transformation,” and the idea that healing is “not just an outcome but a process that exists within each person that emerges in conditions of safety.”

    * * *

    An active meditator, she knew how to sit with herself and track thoughts and emotions. We tracked her sessions from her first realization, during the Sounds True interview, that this emotion of shame had played a major but invisible role in her life. In early sessions she had talked about her confusion about her role as a younger daughter growing up in a large family and about having to follow the rules or be beaten—even when she didn’t know what was wrong. She would be beaten by her father for not giving him a glass in the correct way. She would be beaten by her sister for even having a thought that was different and by her mother just for looking a little different.

    “Shame is a binding emotion,” I told her one day. “Maybe shame bound up with your anger and sadness to protect you in childhood when your parents beat you. Maybe you learned to hold back your emotions so deeply and you learned to hold back your thoughts, and shame was like a cover of the deeper parts of you?”

    She joined my gentle curiosity as we gently unpacked the way shame had protected her. She had learned to think “Something must be wrong with me” because she had a different reaction than family members. She had a lifetime of holding back her thoughts and feelings. She had a lifetime of repeating the shame messages that had been placed on her by keeping herself small and believing that something was wrong with her. I explained that thought was actually the cognitive expression of shame.

    My presence was a safe witness that she had not experienced before. And she noticed what it was like to talk about her life without feeling judged.

    Shame can be like a multi-headed hydra, attacking self-esteem and self-worth and getting in the way of making life changes. It can help to have a new mirror. I mirrored the positives in her and the changes she was making in her life. I explained to her about healthy shame. And we processed the difference between that and the toxic shame that kept her stuck in the past and kept her energy system frozen for so many years.

    It was exciting to watch her transform as we encountered and processed and moved a little beyond the shame each week. Our work together led to an extraordinary session in which the curtain of shame lifted and I got to see the radiant person underneath. I would like to share a moment from that session with you. (I have changed various aspects of her story to keep her identity private.)

    - - -

    It was an odd look I had not seen on her face before, and I wanted both of us to stay a little longer with that moment.

    “Ooooooohhhhh. What’s that emotion?” I say, drawing out the sounds of my words. I’ve never seen this look before, I reflect back to her.

    She shrugs and stops herself from rushing forward into words that may have been there, and she pauses in that moment and shrugs.

    “That emotion,” I say with curiosity and wonder, “I have never seen on your face. Your eyes are getting big, and there’s a new lightness around your eyes.”

    She shrugs again.

    I ask again, more insistent, increasing my vitality affect and leaning in towards her a little.

    “THAT emotion,” I say, raising my excitement level a little more. “Can you name it? Do you notice it?” We look at each other for a few moments and she sighs.

    “I don’t know.”

    “I don’t know,” I repeat, as if joining her in a game of hide and seek. I ask again. “I wonder what it may be?”

    “I don’t know. I don’t know… I don’t know… maybe…maybe….. Oh my……. It’s happiness!!!” she says with extreme surprise.

    Happiness and joy! Two emotions that are new to her. We are at a transformance moment in our session, where a lifetime of being in the grips of the shame freeze has kept her emotions frozen and her life ordinary. I join her and name the delight of her overflowing joy and the waterfall and pleasure of this incredible moment.

    It touched my heart to share that moment of joyous discovery with her. It brought tears to my eyes and we cried tears of joy together.

    © 2018 Sheila Rubin

    About the Author:

    Sheila Rubin is the Co-founder of the Center For Healing Shame. The Center For Healing Shame is based in Berkeley, California. Workshops are offered in Berkeley, at various other locations in the United States and Canada, and online. There is also a full training and certification program for therapists. The education is designed to help therapists show clients how to recognize shame, work through it and move on by:   

    • Becoming more sensitive to the shaming often implicit in the therapy situation and learning how to counter shame in therapy.
    • Helping clients separate feelings of shame from other emotions.
    • Learning how to take clients back to early shaming situations and reverse the outcome.
    • Supporting clients to move their energy powerfully outward rather than turn it against themselves.

    Sheila and Bret have been at the forefront of guiding mental health professionals to recognize and move through shame with their clients.

    The Center for Healing Shame is qualified to provide CE credits for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs registered in California - CAMFT Approved CE Provider #134393. PhDs in California and PhDs and licensed therapists outside of California may be able to receive CE credits through the co-sponsorship of R. Cassidy Seminars. 

    Learn More

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