Somatic Psychotherapy & Coaching

My intention is to support individuals to get in touch with the lived experience of the body, as it pertains to body-mind-spirit healing, personal development, and relational growth. My approach is theoretically holistic, however I am inspired by somatic and relational psychotherapy. My work supports clients to identify, explore, and ultimately transform stuck patterns, so they become more capable of living happy, balanced lives. Similar to yoga, we need to challenge our edges at times in therapy in order to grow, My style is empathetic, nurturing, and direct, and I strive to work with people in a way that honors their unique energy, intellect, and flow. Although I work with people of all ages, I primarily focus on adults, young adults, and teens.

The way we process external input and internal sensations has everything to do with living a meaningful, healthy life. As mammals, we have adopted certain behaviors over the course of evolution to enhance the viability of 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 distress. At the root of anxiety, trauma, and interpersonal strife, is the sympathetic nervous system branch, responsible for a human’s fight, flight, freeze response. When we continually operate from a place of nervous system dysregulation, also called sympathetic arousal, we do not function optimally, symptoms ensue, and life can feel unmanageable. Somatic and relational psychotherapy assists people to observe their defense mechanisms and work proactively with them, thereby stimulating the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system. This branch is responsible for rest and digestion activities and assists the body to feel calm and at-ease. 

In each counseling session, I facilitate somatic awareness by utilizing various techniques that include mindfulness and sensation-focused awareness. In addition to creating a safe and nurturing therapeutic environment, these techniques support nervous system regulation, thereby assisting the client to attenuate primitive response patterns. The more we become familiar with our unique body-responses and sensations, the more we become capable of regulating challenging feelings and embracing the joys of life.

Early childhood plays a large role in this style of psychotherapy, which is humanistic and correlated with 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 feels attuned with another human being in a therapeutic context, the nervous system has the space to down-regulate, and symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and panic may reduce.

Recent article by Romi on Trauma Fatigue and stress response

Somatic & Relational Psychology Workshop 2019

Somatic psychology is centered around the lived experience of the body (soma) and how that relates to relational, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual processes.

Somatic psychotherapy includes various therapeutic approaches, many of which focus on sensation-based awareness and nervous system response patterns.

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Background

I received clinical training and inspiration from a variety of professional somatic educators and psychotherapists, including but not limited to: Michael Sieck, Ph.D., (Three Fold Way), Gabrielle Hoppe LMFT (Biosynthesis), Jeanne Denney Ph.D., (Body Psychotherapy), Joanna Chartrand-Benz, (Somatic & Relational Psychotherapy), and Stephen Dansiger Psy.D. (EMDR). In addition to clinical psychotherapy training, I draw from over twenty years of experience offering: yoga, meditation, bodywork, and energy healing. Before moving into private practice full-time, I worked as an associate at various community agencies, including: New Beginnings Counseling Center, Santa Barbara City College, Crescend Health, La Ventana Treatment Center, and Hospice of Santa Barbara.

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

Specialties: ADHD, Alcohol use, Anxiety, Attachment, Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, Codependency, Coping Skills, Depression, Divorce, Dual Diagnosis, Emotional Disturbance, Grief, Infidelity, Life Transitions, Life Coaching, Mood Disorders, Peer Relationships, Relationships, Trauma/PTSD, School-related, Self Esteem, Sexuality, Sleep, Spirituality, Sports Performance, Stress. Sexual Abuse, Substance Use. Supporter of LGBTQI+ and sex-positive clients.

When you confront the fear through breathing, you reclaim the frightened child. When you confront the grief by reaching, you reclaim the abandoned child. When you confront the inadequacy by vibrating and allowing the life to come from the ground to you, you reach down and reclaim the vulnerable child. When you let yourself feel the protest of the inadequacies and the ways you were mistreated, you reclaim the connection to that child that could never be free. When you let the melting of your heart take place, the opening of the chest to the pelvis occurs and you reclaim the heartbroken and guilty child

-Hilton & Sieck