Healing trauma restores your natural resilience to life’s uncertainties and dangers. It makes your experience of life more expansive and joyful. It makes it easier for you to soften into the pleasant and restful experiences of your own life.
Relationship patterns driven by childhood experiences
Struggling to feel belonging, worthiness, and connection
Effects of shocking or surprising incidents
Changes or limits in attention and cognition
Constant feeling of "unsafe" after bodily harm or boundary rupture
The important problems in life are complex. We are limited by factors beyond our full control, a sometimes beyond our ability to understand completely. We can tap into deep intuition to gain insights about the core issues behind these problems.
This often requires that we face the fears and traumas which make the problem so complex. A guided, titrated method avoids triggers, overwhelm, and re-traumatization while asking the unconscious for insight.
Psychological trauma creates invisible obstacles that look like mental, emotional, and physical patterns of being. It exists in the unconscious psyche with markers spread across the body, feeling states, and thoughts. By recognizing hidden trauma and understanding its structure, we can direct our lives and make important changes without getting shipwrecked by triggers and blind spots.
Body == – mind==
Somatic & Analytic
David has studied and trained in both somatic and cognitive traditions. He brings an integrative approach to life mentorship, combining Somatic Experiencing®, Experiential Focusing, Integral Somatic Psychology™, Acceptance and Commitment Coaching, and Jungian archetypal psychology. Each of these approaches respects the wisdom of the embodied unconscious mind.
Life is a journey to become your true self. Whichever stage you're in, you have a mentor and guide to call on.
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In a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) session, the practitioner guides the client through memories of traumatic experiences as they arise in the body. Memories might be emotional states, felt-senses, sensations, images, sounds and smells, or actual (narrative) rememberings. The practitioner helps the client to allow this content to surface without its overwhelming them, so it often looks like a "guided mindfulness session." However SE also includes movement, working with props, supportive touch, talking, and other things you don't see in seated or movement meditations.
Safely access intuition
Experiential Focusing is a method to simplify a complex situation by asking the unconscious for insight. When guiding a Focusing session, David helps to keep you safe from surfacing psychological content that would overwhelm you. We turn toward life's challenges to find real answers...without the threat of re-traumatization.
Integral Somatic Psychology™
ISP is an approach to trauma resolution that develops resilience through closely managed exposure to trauma symptoms. David uses the techniques of ISP to help people grow through challenges that stem from early life experiences and relational trauma.
Our dreams are communiques from the unconscious aspects of our minds. By investigating dreams, we can carefully investigate their symbols and the feelings they bring up. These signs help us to uncover the deepest roots of trauma, inner conflict, and our personal calling to psychic wholeness.
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Gentle, Curious, and Open
Working with trauma requires attention to the full context of the mind-body. Signals may come from sensations, feelings, movements, or thoughts. David welcomes all the layers of our stories with presence and curiosity.
Each body is distinct, and each person's story is unique. While it's hard to say exactly what somatic introspective work will look like for you, these few examples may help you to imagine what's possible.
Many times we begin exploring one kind of difficulty when the body unexpectedly brings up a memory of another. We may not understand the connection immediately, but it becomes clear over time.
“G” and I were meeting to explore difficulties in her primary partnership. She was feeling stressed and tense. We started by paying attention to areas of discomfort and areas of comfort in her body. We also found comfort in her surroundings. This started to release her tension. Suddenly, she noticed an “electric spark” moving from one foot to another, passing through her legs and sacrum. While tracking it, the sound of an ambulance siren rose in the background. Upon recognizing the siren, G said, “I know where to go in our session! The siren!” Her whole body started to activate with distress. She quickly stood and paced the room as sobs arose. “This feeling is over ten years old,” she said. The sobs settled. Before she could explain what was happening, she told me her face felt numb. We ignored the story and paid attention to her face. Touching it with her hand, we explored where the numbness ended and feeling began. She discovered the shape of a mask around her mouth. Then a memory of giving birth to her child flooded in.
She had a home birth with a midwife attending. The baby was born in cardiac arrest, and the midwives called for an ambulance. Firefighters arrives first, then the EMTs. G found herself lying naked in her living room, fearing for her baby, while ten strangers filled the room. They put an oxygen mask on the baby, covering the same parts of its face as G felt numb on her own. As she described the event, her body acted out more memories: she broke out in a full sweat, began sobbing again in bursts, and felt urges to act out specific movements. We worked slowly through these experiences, regularly leaving the memory to come back to the safety and comfort of the room she was in. With each cycle of activation and settling, she remembered more.
G hadn’t revisited this memory since it had happened; she had put it behind her and moved on. After allowing much of it to unfold, we settled and took rest in the present moment. Discussing it with her, I asked if she could remember where the father was. She couldn’t. It seemed to her that the father disappeared during the birth, and he wasn’t available as an anchor or support when the emergency crew arrived. Thinking of this drew G’s attention back to her current partnership. She realized that traumatic experiences of partnership in her past were tied indirectly into her current partnership.
 Levine, P. A. (2015). Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past: A Practical Guide for Understanding and Working with Traumatic Memory. United States: North Atlantic Books.
At the beginning of life, the mind-body is mostly operating as a bundle of sensations and feelings. Memories formed at the delicate stage of infancy can remain within us as patterns of constriction, movement, autonomic disregulation, and even belief systems. Working with prenatal (before birth) and perinatal (near-birth) trauma involves visiting embodied patterns without making narrative sense of them.
In a regular session with “K” to navigate life’s journey, he brought up a troubling pattern of behavior with his girlfriend. Whenever he felt she wasn’t listening closely to him or attuning exactly to what he wanted out of a situation, he would erupt in a flash of anger. This wasn’t a normal characteristic of him; K was an open, communicative, and present person who valued his relationships. I asked him about a handful of specific situations where the anger had erupted. In describing each, he drifted toward the meaning embedded in each situation so we systematically returned to the embodied experiences and concrete sensations.
After a few of these back-and-forth struggles of attention, K sat back against the wall behind him and leaned his head back to rest. He soon said, “It feels vulnerable to expose my neck to you like this.” We explored it and found that when he extended his head backward a certain distance, he felt a tingling in his thighs, hips, and shoulders that felt raw and vulnerable. I had him explore the “safe” range of neck movement. This led to a series of big yawns. He then associated the “vulnerable” range of neck extension with relenting completely. I recalled, from prior sessions, that K had been born in a caesarean section procedure because the umbilicus was strangling him.
K started to remember the experience of dancing improvisationally. He felt the pleasure of moving freely. I encouraged him to move however he wanted in this moment together. He explored authentic movements and described how sensitive his neck usually felt. His movements stopped after a bit, with him lying prone on the couch. I asked how he felt, and he reported “strange.” It wasn’t overwhelming, so we stayed with it.
Within several seconds, K put his feet against the arm of the couch and pressed. He said it felt amazing! I recognized this as the incomplete birth sequence which was interrupted by the c-section. I invited K to work with the pleasure of pressing against the couch, repeating the movement several times slowly. K yawned, his body shuddered and jerked. He did this until he flopped onto his back, feeling complete. We rested quietly together for the rest of the session.
 LaPierre, A., Heller, L. (2012). Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship. United States: North Atlantic Books.
In many situations, we see something frightening or violent happen to another person, and we are affected as though it happened to us. This is especially true when we are already in a situation that feels threatening or dangerous.
At the start of one session, “P” told me that every time they see someone getting hit or suffering a bodily impact, their perineal area constricts painfully. This even happens when watching a movie or TV show where the violence isn’t real. Since the constriction wasn’t happening in the moment, we explored sensations in that area while letting the mind go wherever it wanted. P remembered that they wake from certain nightmares with the same constriction, too. Then they remembered a Marvel superhero movie where it happened. We used the trick of imagining the movie playing under controlled conditions: P imagined snuggling with their partner on the couch very comfortably, and then we put the movie on a TV screen that was very far away. P brought the screen closer in their imagination just until their perineum started to constrict again. This was a manageable distance from the threat.
After a moment, nausea arose, followed by constriction in the throat. Soon P felt anger and said, “I hate the TV!” The anger centered itself in their sternum, then moved up to the throat again. We worked to lessen the constriction there, after which a memory arose. P’s stepfather used to watch football in the living room when P was young. He would yell at the TV frequently. P remembered the combination of seeing players hit one another, the loud voices on the TV, and the aggressive shouts from their stepfather. “It was awful,” P told me. A “good” feeling arose when they told me this, so we followed that goodness. It settled on the sides of P’s belly and then down their legs. They felt a separation inside between this goodness and numb areas. We used a voice technique to awaken the numb areas gently. P settled into an overall pleasant feeling over the next several minutes. Afterward, they said they were glad the memory had surfaced, and that thinking about it now brought up much less nausea, and no pain in the perineum.
 Levine, P. A., Kline, M. (2010). Trauma Through a Child's Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing. United States: North Atlantic Books.
Often we think we have one kind of problem, but it's unconsciously connected to another, deeper kind of problem. Trying to alleviate the apparent problem doesn't work because we have to discover the underlying issues at play. The body can tell us how our experiences and beliefs are connected in ways we don't consciously recognize.
V and I were working on their constant struggle with loneliness. They often felt abandoned by the people in their life, especially friends and community members. We tried to track experiences in the body. Then we tried some mobilizations for the joints of the body to get emotionally unstuck. None of this got far. At one point, V said, “My body feels a little better, but I’m still sad about being lonely.”
So we switched to asking the unconscious mind-body for help by listening to the felt sense using Focusing. We asked, “Why do I feel sad?” The felt sense of this question led to V talking about how the important things in their life weren’t being given attention. Much of the time they spent each day was used to address several little tasks, nuisances, habits, etc. Even healthy chores like exercise, cooking, and house cleaning were regularly pushed aside. They felt bogged down by these menial things, and bogged down in the clutter of an unkempt home.
V looked around their living space and said, “I need to clean my home.” Then, “Oh look! My joints started moving on their own!” I watched as several movement impulses played out across V’s body. I asked if the body’s movement might correspond to getting psychically unstuck. V considered this and then said, “I feel the urge to grab a trash bag and start chucking things in.” They explored how this feeling tied into feelings of loneliness and then summarized with, “The antidote to my loneliness is to get out more. Staying stuck here in overwhelm is how I prevent myself from doing that. And first I need to get rid of the clutter that overwhelms me.”
 Gendlin, E. T. (1982). Focusing. United States: Random House Publishing Group.
Near death experience
Coming close to death activates every layer of the mind-body in a fight for survival. Extremely deep-seated emotions and sensations can surface and become entangled in a traumatic memory. Unraveling these layers allows the mind-body to acknowledge that the event is over and finally come back to rest.
A few days before our regular session, “W” was foraging with friends in the forest. They picked what they thought was wild asparagus, but it turned out to be a toxic plant called bluebell. W ate some, and upon discovering the mistake they were overcome with fear that they might be severely poisoned. They called a poison control line; the operator said they would be okay, but in their fearful state W didn’t believe the operator. W called the line back for assurance, but they were handled with frustrated anger the second time. This deepened W’s fear and helplessness.
When we discussed the event, I asked W to notice the difference between how they felt in that moment and how they felt with me now, when things had turned out to be okay. The taste of the bluebell came back to their mouth, and then they let out a big yawn followed by making an authentic face of disgust. We let these reactions surface naturally--they were the mind-body's retelling of this story. More yawns were followed by a strong feeling of grief. Then pain in the stomach and a sense of pain in the kidneys. W remembered that their kidneys had hurt during the scare, too.
W’s thoughts jumped suddenly to the aftercare they received that day from their life partner. We recalled the sensations and feelings of being cared for, which settled their breath into a steady and relaxed pattern. (The mind-body was now connecting its memory of danger with its memory of safety.) Now calmer, W wrapped themself in a big blanket to feel even safer. From this safety, we revisited the memory of digestive problems. I encouraged them to put their hand wherever they currently felt discomfort. To my surprise, W put their hand on the back of their head at the occiput. We used self touch techniques to help their body relax further, after which they started to move their neck. Looking for movements that felt really pleasing, we helped the mind-body to relax even further with more yawns, sighs, and finally a big hard sneeze. W opened their eyes finally and said, “Things seem brighter. I can apprehend the beauty of things more.” We took our time here, enjoying the completion of revisiting this frightening memory.
Conversation moved on to other topics and then came back to the bluebell memory. W felt confusion about the meaning of the experience. I suggested saying aloud, “I survived,” to see how that felt. They spoke the words slowly and reported it felt extremely vulnerable. Shame came on, and then shame about feeling ashamed. (This is very common with near-death experiences, particularly when we didn’t get the help we needed in a critical moment.) We spoke new words: “Somebody helped me." W then went further on their own, saying, “I asked for help and somebody helped me.” They felt vulnerable again, some of it pleasant and some of it unpleasant. We tracked the mixture of feelings while continuing to play with the words. The statement came more and more naturally, and the unpleasant vulnerability faded. A sense of power and anger flooded W (which is also natural once shame has been overcome), so we used props to feel power in the hands and arms. The anger faded, but the vitality remained. W expressed a desire to go exercise outdoors…but also felt sleepy and hungry now. We decided to follow the vital feelings gently with a walk in the sun, allowing the opportunity for rest and recovery afterward.
 Levine, P. A. (2012). In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. United States: North Atlantic Books.
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