My Somatic/Mind-Body Journey
I tried psychotherapy several times throughout my life and although it was nice to have someone to talk to, I didn’t feel like we got very far. I didn’t like my personal history being recorded for health insurance billing purposes and the requirement to find a “diagnosis” such as depression or anxiety.
I’ve always been drawn to helping professions, such as medicine and counseling, but I have found that traditional versions are not enough. What I have found is that movement, yoga, mindfulness, and energy medicine are exceptionally helpful in my own and my clients' processes.
One catalyzing experience was in medical school. I started having what some would describe as panic attacks. I remember sitting on the steps outside my school with the feeling that something or someone was chasing me. My heart was pounding, I was breathing really fast, and crying uncontrollably. I had the intense urge to run. Medical school can certainly be overwhelming at times, but I didn’t have a test. It was a beautiful day and I was just sitting on the steps when it hit me hard!
I sought help but traditional talk therapy opened up childhood trauma. I did not have the resources to deal with those traumatic memories on top of the stress of medical school. Some tools I found helpful were, connecting with others, eating healthy food, movement, participation in sweat lodges, laughter yoga, creating art, and learning stress-management techniques. I realized my body was my best ally while my mind was having a hard time.
My aunt introduced me to a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and he followed a natural gesture I made as I told him a bit about my medical school experience. He had me slow the gesture down and get really present with it. The flood gates opened. There were tears, but I felt so relieved! I didn’t have to spend years reliving childhood trauma or discussing my past in painful detail before working on current life stress. Driving home that night, I felt so much more alive, present, and aware. I was hooked!
I realized I didn’t want to talk to patients about complicated biochemical reactions as a medical doctor. I wanted to talk to clients about their bodies and minds, self-care, and what lit them up, made them smile, and brought them joy. I knew the body was the key to all that! I took a leave of absence from medical school, started practicing yoga and Tai Chi, started eating clean, and gained a lot of insight, and had some moving experiences - but I knew I wanted more.
I found the holistic Somatic Psychology program at John F. Kennedy University and although it was challenging in many ways, it was the best thing I could’ve done to broaden my understanding of myself, my loved ones, and all those around me. I learned Mind-Body oriented counseling psychology theory and many healing tools and resources. In the Somatic Counseling Psychology program, we talked about our nervous systems and the fight or flight response. We meditated regularly and practiced mindfulness and movement. I saw clients as a Marriage and Family Intern, but I still wanted to travel. Since all states and countries have different requirements for licensure, I put internship hours and licensing on hold to spend years living on and traveling the world’s oceans. I knew I would come back to this work so I incorporated it into my own life and relationships throughout my yachting adventures.
Through my work in the yachting industry, I had the privilege of experiencing many coastal areas such as Costa Rica, Mexico, various parts of California, Canada, New England, the UK, Florida, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands - to name a few. I have a passion for travel, being in nature and incorporate eco-therapeutic techniques into my work as well.
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