IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Couple Armour: The Process of Melting Couple Armour through Body Psychotherapy

Sarah and David sit across from me. Their chairs are far apart and turned towards me. They escape eye contact by focusing on me. It’s our first session. Tension is evident and felt, in all senses. This is a well- known situation when couples start therapy that stems from normative embarrassment and difficulty seeking help. During our first conversation, I listen to them while trying to feel the energy and atmosphere in the room. I look inwards, feel my body, my breath. I resonate with myself and with them. The room feels cramped, stiff. There’s a sense of heaviness. The atmosphere is remote, and it seems cold. I notice that neither of them is breathing, and it affects my breathing, which also halts. Out of awareness and inner resonance, despite the tension I breathe deeply. I reflect to the couple: "There’s so much tension in the room," and then I take a deep breath again which allows Sarah and David to breathe as well, to release some of the difficulty, and start discussing what's in their hearts.

TAKE A TOOL AND RUN

Take a Tool and Run with Dr. Heather Corwin

TR 12: In this February 2020 “Take a Tool and Run!”, I explore a tool to address how some clients are unable to tolerate touch. Using a stone can give an opportunity to foster connection with an organic object that has dynamic temperature, texture, weight, and shape. Holding things in our hands is also a way to help bring depth to the moment. Pauses to feel into the rock and notice what sensations are present can help clients titrate between those sensations and large felt experiences or emotions. Some also believe rocks have a frequency that vibrates in accordance with their origin. Most notable, rocks are of the earth and can remind us of the primitive and primal to give a respite from analytical thinking into simply being. Rock on! -Dr. Heather Corwin www.CorwinCounseling.com. More can be found at www.BodybyHeather.com.

Dr. Heather Corwin’s Take a Tool and Run is a monthly vlog that offers quick and effective tools to share somatic centering practices.

PODCAST WITH MICHAEL OSTROLENK

LISTEN TO OUR WRITERS PODCAST

Michael Ostrolenk is a licensed psychotherapist who completed his MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at John F. Kennedy University and did post-graduate studies in somatic psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies .  He is certified in Spiral Dynamics and Wade Mindsets.  Michael is Head Instructor  for SEALFIT’s Unbeatable Mind Academy as well as a personal development coach. Michael is also the host of #ORadio , a podcast which explores individual and social transformation.

Ostrolenk speaks with Joan Davis, a Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, a Hakomi Sensorimotor Trauma Psychotherapist, and author of Origins: a body-based approach to developmental evolutionary process from preconception to standing. Davis describes her own background and what life experiences drove her engagement in self-exploration; she further details how she learned and practices body-mind centering, Hakomi, authentic movement, and pre and perinatal training. Davis details some of the content of the 9 spirals of her book Origins. To learn more about Joan Davis and her work, visit her website at www.gorsehill.net/books/origins/. Today’s show is brought to you by Somatic Psychotherapy Today: www.somaticpsychotherapytoday.com/.

BODY MIND SPIRIT

In the Bleak Mid Winter

My Mum recently asked my partner and I what we were doing for Christmas. I was slightly surprised to find myself announcing that I was cancelling Christmas this year. Here we were, together in late summer, celebrating my stepdad’s 70th birthday. I was more than happy to get together, to mark midwinter, to mark the passing year, maybe, but I had no desire to mark the 25th December.

A Somatic Strategy for the Holiday Season

Our ideas of how the holidays should go can be a sticky combination of tradition, experience, marketing, and . . . fiction. Year after year I see my clients reflect the stresses of the season as old issues surface and old patterns take hold. Just around the corner from Halloween, the body starts to brace for the inevitable and resiliency disappears. Conflicting feelings of anticipation and anxiety show up in the body as a tangle of shoulder-neck-jaw tension, low back pain, random injuries, and general uptightness. In order to extend the good work beyond our ninety- minute session, I’ve developed a simple somatic strategy to change the holiday dynamic.

Life Notes: Always Home for the Holidays

“When I was a child, Christmas happened on Christmas Eve. Mom, dad, sister, and I piled into the car and drove around the empty streets looking for Rudolf’s nose. I remember the silence illuminated by twinkling Christmas trees in windows and the slow, steady headlamps of whatever Chrysler dad was driving that year. But we were looking for the special light. The red one. Since we lived beneath the flightpath of the San Jose airport, it was not hard to find red blinking lights in the sky. Every year the question remained, “Which one is Rudolf’s nose?” It didn’t matter. My sister, Jenny, and I usually pointed one out and exclaimed, "There it is!" Mom and dad always answered with, “Let’s drive around a bit more, look at the neighborhood Christmas lights to give Santa time to bring your presents.” We did not complain because we knew that gifts were waiting under the tree when we returned home. It was like magic.

Open the Gift of Mindful Awareness

It’s already starting. Holiday decorations are showing up at the stores, music is playing at the mall, pumpkin lattes abound. The cultural and familial buildup to this season is magnified every year and, for many people, becomes totally overwhelming. The experience of “too much” can replicate traumatic overwhelm in our nervous system, creating a whole season of nervous system dysregulation. This dysregulation then creates heightened emotions and reactivity (“What!? They didn’t make a vegan pumpkin pie??!”), depression and anxiety (“They don’t like my gift or I have to get the perfect gift”) and often a desire to literally escape the season’s events (fleeing by not going to the party) or a desire to dissociate (fleeing by leaving your body - I’ll just be on my phone for the whole dinner). How can we assist our clients and ourselves in navigating this extended stressful season?

Happy Holidays: A Somatic Approach to Surviving and Thriving in the 2019 Season

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” “Put on your oxygen mask first.” Phrases like these suggest an overly simplistic and logical approach to navigating what might be a stressful holiday season in our lives, but as the readers of this publication are well aware, there is a difference between the cognitive understanding of something and the embodied experience of it.

Over Coming the Obstacles to Self-Compassion

To start, I think it’s useful to understand what compassion is and what it is not. My working definition of compassion represents tender, empathic, and caring sentiments. It involves loving feelings that emerge when an injury (physical, emotional, or spiritual) is recognized and nurtured. Compassion is bringing a concerned, reinforcing spirit in the presence of wounding.

RELATIONAL MINDFULNESS

RSS Relational Implicit: Conversations on Psychotherapy

  • Polarized Mind & Relational Implicit February 7, 2020
    This recording is different from the other recordings in this podcast series. Instead of a conversation, it features Serge Prengel talking about polarization and the Relational Implicit. You can also read this as a text (below the audio player). What happens when we get polarized? How can we avoid polarization to engage in more enriching […]
    Relational Implicit
  • Kirk Schneider: Exploring the polarized mind February 1, 2020
    This conversation started as Serge Prengel interviewing Kirk Schneider. Very quickly, Kirk became the listener, guiding Serge into an experiential exploration of polarization. We touched upon the personal and embodied impact of the polarized mind (or fixation on a single point of view to the utter exclusion of competing points of view), as well as […]
    Relational Implicit

Relational Mindfulness with Serge Prengel

Embodied Spirituality

In my work, I am accustomed to thinking in terms of embodied experience. That is, mind and body are not separate entities. I think of the mind as an emerging property of the human organism. Where does the notion of spirituality fit with this kind of outlook? The word "spirituality" refers to "spirit". Traditionally, spirit is seen as immaterial, the opposite of flesh and blood. It is what animates the body, gives it life. In many traditions, it is something that leaves the body after death, and continues to live on its own once disembodied. So, essentially, the word "spirit" evokes the very opposite of "embodiment." There is such a chasm between these two notions that it makes it hard to conceive that they could be integrated. Indeed, if you only contemplate these two propositions as logical statements, you simply cannot find a way to reconcile them.

SPT BOOKSHELF

Book Reviews

Rethinking Trauma Treatment: Attachment, Memory Reconsolidation, and Resilience

Armstrong’s compassion and astuteness in Rethinking Trauma Treatment sets this scholastic work apart from the current literature on trauma treatment. Armstrong is a stellar writer, both in an academic and a narrative sense, educating the reader while simultaneously arousing feelings of empathy towards the individuals she describes. She presents essential facts in a comprehensive manner; because of her compendious writing style, readers can focus on the book’s content rather than thoughts wandering in their mind.

Feminist Therapy: Second Edition

Feminist Therapy: Second Edition offers some insight into the beginnings of the feminist movement, educating the reader about the various political uprisings that spurred it into motion. Interestingly, there is no one founder of feminist therapy. Similar to a democracy, where the government is formed by and for the people, feminist therapy struggled with defining its boundaries and was left to the interpretation of the clinician practicing it.

Addiction, Attachment, Trauma and Recovery: The Power of Connection

In his recently published book, Addiction, Attachment, Trauma and Recovery: The Power of Connection, Morgan offers a new framework for clinicians working with clients like myself that combines interpersonal neurobiology and social ecology and focuses on addiction and recovery from an attachment-sensitive counseling approach. The soul of addiction, Morgan says, is a lack of connection and belonging. “Recovery,” he writes, ”is a restoration to connection, to meaningful and life-giving relationships” (pg. xxix). The traditional models of addiction—it’s a disease, a choice, a learned behavior—are being replaced by models focused on relational ecologies.