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Somatic Psychotherapy and Counseling

About Romi Cumes

Marriage and Family Therapist  #107614

Romi Cumes is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Healer with a private practice in downtown Santa Barbara. She received a Masters in clinical psychology from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute in association with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. In addition to Marriage and Family Therapy, the SBGI program emphasized cutting-edge education in somatic and pre/perinatal psychology.

Romi began her first clinical traineeship in 2010 at New Beginnings Counseling Center. After graduate school she worked at Santa Barbara City College for two years as a student counselor for the Student Health Services department. She continued her training in 2016 at Crescend Health, an outpatient treatment program for people struggling with addiction and dual diagnosis. Since 2016, Romi has worked part-time as a psychotherapist at Hospice of Santa Barbara, focusing on bereavement care services and crisis management.

Romi specializes in somatic and relational psychology and has received clinical training and inspiration from a variety of professional somatic educators and psychotherapists; including but not limited to: Michael Sieck, Ph.D., Gabrielle Hoppe  LMFT (Biosynthesis), Jeanne Denney Ph.D., (Body Psychotherapy), Joanna Chartrand, Dyrian Benz Psy.D.,  (Somatic & Relational Psychotherapy), and Stephen Dansiger Psy.D., LMFT (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing/EMDR). In addition to clinical psychotherapy training, Romi draws from over twenty years of experience practicing and teaching: yoga, meditation, bodywork, and spiritual (energy) healing, to offer clients unique and powerful psychotherapy sessions.

From 2012-2015 Romi received post graduate training and certification in the Three Fold Way, a method of relational and somatic psychotherapy developed by its late Founder, Michael Sieck, Ph.D. Romi’s approach is largely inspired by the work of Dr. Sieck and his partner Jeff Turner, LMFT. Michael’s work was transcendent and he helped thousands of people to feel loved and understood. I am forever grateful for his brilliant, compassionate teachings. May he rest in peace.

 

Approach

 

What is Somatic and Relational Psychotherapy?

Definition of Somatic: of, or relating to, or affecting the body. 

My approach supports individuals to get in touch with the lived experience of the body, as it pertains to body-mind-spirit healing, personal development, and relationship success. My approach is theoretically holistic, however I have been most inspired personally and academically by somatic and relational psychotherapy.

The way we process or don’t process external input and internal sensations has everything to do with living a happy and healthy life.  As mammals, we have adapted certain stances over the course of evolution to enhance the viability of both ourselves and the species. A good example of this is our defense structure. It has helped us survive for thousands of years, however when activated, it does not support ease within interpersonal relationships.  When we operate from a place of defense, the relational, more empathetic part of the brain goes off-line, leading to problematic behavior and relational or personal discord.

At the root of most tension, anxiety, and interpersonal strife, is our mammalian sympathetic nervous system response, also known as, “fight, flight, freeze”. When the body continually operates from a place of dysregulation – also called sympathetic arousal – humans do not function optimally, and physical and emotional symptoms ensue, making life unmanageable and unpleasant.

Somatic and relational psychotherapy assists people to observe and work with their mammalian defense structure, thereby stimulating the more calm, parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” branch. This aspect of the autonomic nervous system promotes a state of equilibrium in the body, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.

In each counseling session, I facilitate somatic awareness by utilizing various techniques that include mindfulness and sensation-based exploration. These techniques, in addition to a safe and nurturing therapeutic environment, supports the nervous system to down-regulate, thereby supporting the individual to diffuse primitive response patterns. The more we become familiar with our own embodiment, we are more inclined to feel better and embrace the joys of life.

Early attachment dynamics play a large role in this style of psychotherapy, which is greatly steeped in attachment and psychodynamic theory. This work is healing in nature because it gives the client an experiential understanding of attunement, otherwise known as neurologically regulated, compassionate presence.   Research has shown that when a person is able to feel connected or “attuned” to another human being in a therapeutic context, the nervous system has the space to down-regulate, and symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and panic can be reduced (click here to read a paper I wrote about attunement).

The intention of my work is to support my clients to identify, explore, and ultimately transform the core operating dynamics that are the building blocks of suffering, so they can live happier, more balanced lives. I work with people of all ages, however my focus is primarily with adults, young adults, and teens.

Keywords: Attachment & Attachment Theory, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Client-centered psychotherapy, Spiritual Counseling.