Psychotherapy & Counseling
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 psychology, yoga/movement, intuitive (energy) healing, and the power of nature. Through my practice providing therapy in Santa Barbara and throughout California via Telehealth, I am following one of my life’s true callings as I work to support clients to identify, explore, and ultimately transform stuck patterns and energy so they become more capable of living happy, balanced lives.
In therapy and in life, we sometimes need to challenge our edges in order to grow. My style is empathetic, nurturing, and direct. Although I am clinically-trained and licensed, new clients should know my approach is not one of a standard psychotherapist. I draw from over twenty years of healing arts experience and spiritual studies, and see through the lens of both a clinical somatic-relational psychotherapist and an intuitive healer.
What I offer aligns well with people who are curious about body-mind connectivity and who are motivated to develop deeply intellectual, emotional, and spiritual insight. I support adults and young adults of all ages and specialize in somatic therapy, intuitive healing, and spiritual development.
As part of my practice, I also provide clinical supervision to skilled Associate Marriage & Family Therapists who share my commitment to transformative healing, and offer affordable psychotherapy and counseling. We are an Anthem Blue Cross Provider for behavioral health services, and Anthem patients may request an appointment with our AMFTs.
Please note: I do not specialize in eating disorders. I advise anyone seeking therapy for eating/food-related challenges to seek out a specialist. If you need support from a registered dietitian, I highly recommend having a consultation with Elise Liu of Craving Food Freedom. I recently had the pleasure of being featured as a guest on her podcast, where we explored topics surrounding regulating our nervous system and how increasing body awareness connects to conscious eating practices. Click here to listen and learn more about her work.
What does "Somatic" Mean?
This is one of the most common questions I receive from people curious about somatic psychology. The word “somatic” is associated with the lived experience of the body (soma) and the dynamic interrelationship between physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Coupled with relational psychotherapy, the therapeutic nature of somatic psychotherapy supports us to compassionately address unmet needs and understand their origins. Throughout my work with my clients, I facilitate somatic awareness by utilizing various techniques that include mindfulness and sensation-focused awareness.
When prompted, we are usually able to name and sense something within the body. These sensations may include: density, texture, temperature, shape, and even flavor. By noticing sensations in the body – often provoked by emotional response patterns – we become better-able to explore the innate body wisdom directly correlated with self-healing and personal growth.
Sensory awareness guides us to learn from and long-heal pain and body armor by facilitating self-compassion, grounding, and nervous system regulation, especially during moments of emotional tension, reactivity, or disassociation. As we become more familiar with our unique energy and response patterns, we become more capable of processing challenging feelings and embracing the joys of life.
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.
Early childhood plays a large role in this style of psychotherapy, which is humanistic and correlated with attachment and psychodynamic theory. Somatic work is healing by nature because it gives the client an experiential understanding of attunement, otherwise known as neurologically-regulated, compassionate presence.
The sympathetic nervous system branch, responsible for a human’s fight/flight response, is directly correlated to how the body processes anxiety, trauma, and interpersonal challenges. When unregulated or ignored, this response pattern has a dramatic effect on our character, lives and relationships.
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 with them proactively.
The parasympathetic branch of the nervous system is responsible for rest and digestion activities and assists the body to feel calm and at-ease. 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 (parasympathetic branch), and symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and panic may reduce.
Somatic Self-Care Resources
- 3-Step Somatic Practice
I developed a simple and effective three-step practice that supports nervous system regulation and healing by integrating sensory awareness with self-inquiry. The intention of this practice is to support you to develop insight and regulate your nervous system by noticing emotional distress, naming sensations, and exploring the needs therein.
- Managing Trauma Fatigue and Stress Response
Committing to daily practices that regulate the nervous system supports health by reducing cortisol and promoting healthy immune-response in the body. The more we become aware of how thoughts, feelings, and body sensations negatively affect us, the better armed we become to attenuate negative response patterns driven by fear and anxiety.
I am a also certified practitioner of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (E.M.D.R.), an extensively researched, highly-effective psychotherapy method utilizing repeated patterns of visual and/or physical stimuli, proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. It is also highly effective to cultivate self-esteem, confidence, and personal empowerment. To learn more about E.M.D.R. and see if it might be a good fit for you, watch this video to get an idea of how it works, and you can learn even more about it by visiting the FAQs page of the E.M.D.R. Institute.
My clinical training and inspiration comes 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.
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