Moving and Being Moved

Glenariff, Northern Ireland

In late September I traveled to Ireland where I completed advanced professional training in Somatic Experiencing. What a privilege to train with the Ireland Somatic Experiencing cohort in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland at Corymeela – a peace and reconciliation community who host trainings and groups focused on conflict management and peace-building.  Many thanks to Berns Galloway, our intrepid trainer, to Brid and Geraldine Keenan (Ireland SE) and all of the generous assistants and participants from Ireland, Norway, the UK and North America who welcomed me and shared in deepening practice.

Back in Newfoundland I dove into October and moving Resonance to a new location. Moving house or office can be both exciting and unsettling! What would we do without supportive friends? I am so thankful to Tina Thoden and Patricia Thoden of Avalon Interactive Massage Therapy who have generously shared their office space with me for the past 14 months.

Resonance has expanded hours of operation in order to see more clients in a new bright, spacious office at 120 Lemarchant Road. The new space is one of the treatment rooms in the Pony Locale compound, renovated by owner/operators Sarah Joy Stoker and Michael Luke. It is gorgeous! It is also a pleasure and honour to be working in proximity to these colleagues who value body wisdom and whose practices and teachings are complementary with the Somatic Experiencing work that I offer.

Pony Locale is a Pilates and kinesiology studio that offers private, small group and large group Pilates – mat and reformer classes – as well as therapeutic and athletic kinesiology.  Offerings range from gentle, restorative classes to more advanced classes for dancers and athletes, circuit classes, and nuanced work with persons challenged by specific health demands and recovering from injuries. There are two fabulous massage therapists on staff at Pony as well!

 

 

Results are In

27771193051_4a3bdb7aaf_k

I’m so excited, and I know I like it!

Results from the first randomized controlled study evaluating the effectiveness of Somatic Experiencing (SE) for treating people with PTSD are in. The study, conducted in Israel by the Herzog Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma (ICTP), was published this month in the prestigious Journal of Traumatic Stress (Brom et al., 2017). The study evaluated a 15-session protocol with 63 participants whose post-traumatic responses emerged after motor vehicle accidents, assaults, terrorist attacks, medical trauma, combat, death or injury of a family member and complex trauma.

Some of the goals of SE are to decrease the distress and symptoms caused by trauma, and to restore healthy functioning and capacity to respond in daily life (Levine, 2010; Payne, Levine, & Crane-Godreau, 2015). Many clients, students, and practitioners around the world have experienced the effectiveness of SE first-hand. There have also been several exploratory studies examining SE in the wake of natural disasters (Leitch, 2007; Leitch, Vanslyke, & Allen, 2009). However, until recently, this unique, powerful, and caring way of working had not been studied using methods required for inclusion on the roster of “evidence-based” practices.*

In the Israeli study (Brom et al., 2017), a decrease in posttraumatic symptoms, as well as a decrease in depression symptoms were measured as significant at the end of a 15-week SE treatment, and maintained at 30 weeks. A significant number of participants – 44.1% – lost their PTSD diagnosis while many others experienced a decrease in symptoms. The results of this study and the research directions emerging from it will make many more allied health professionals and administrators aware of SE, and will assist in making it more accessible in communities around the world.

In my own practice I use many approaches based on developmental, psychodynamic, spiritual care and creative arts understandings of people and relationships, however, SE is the core of my practice. SE informs my relationships with clients and enriches the way I live as a person and nervous system in today’s demanding world. I celebrated the publication of this significant research by Brom and team (2017) by enjoying something that brings pleasure to my senses: A quiet walk by the ocean with gratitude for the mentors and teachers that have taught me how to bring somatic practices into my life.

 


*The “evidence-based practice” movement has historical, ideological, and political roots that I do not describe here. Globally, there are powerful actors influencing how evidence is understood, which research gets funded, which ideologies guide policy and which forms of knowledge and ways of knowing are marginalized. A recent report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (Puras, June 2017) on mental health and human rights states that a research agenda confined to the neurobiological determinants of mental health negates a large body of experiential and participatory research that exists and supports a broader range of non-pharmaceutical, community-based, and non-coercive alternatives to existing mental health services.

OHCHR | World needs “revolution” in mental health care –UN rights expert. (2017). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689&LangID=E

Also see critical view of evidence-based movement in healthcare: Askheim, C., Sandset, T., & Engebretsen, E. (2017). Who cares? The lost legacy of Archie Cochrane. Medical Humanities, 43(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.1136/medhum-2016-011037


References

Brom, D., Stokar, Y., Lawi, C., Nuriel-Porat, V., Ziv, Y., Lerner, K., & Ross, G. (2017). Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30(3), 304–312. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22189

Leitch, M. L. (2007). Somatic Experiencing Treatment With Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention. Traumatology, 13(3), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534765607305439

Leitch, M. L., Vanslyke, J., & Allen, M. (2009). Somatic Experiencing Treatment with Social Service Workers Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Social Work, 54(1), 9–18.

Levine, P. A. (2010). In an unspoken voice: how the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Payne, P., Levine, P. A., & Crane-Godreau, M. A. (2015). Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00093

Writing with Care Retreat May 29-June 3

This is our third year of offering the Writing with Care Retreat. It really is a RETREAT with privacy and excellent nourishing food. The beds are terrific and there is ample time for rest and rejuvenation, support for reflection, and grounding writing in the body. There are still spaces available!
http://ochrehouse.ca/writing-with-care
Writing with Care was featured in Gusto as one of 10 best value wellness retreats in Canada!
http://www.gustotv.com/…/10-of-the-best-value-wellness-ret…/

Celebrating Listening

In the early eighties I had the privilege of participating in Sound Symposium workshops with Pauline Oliveros in St. John’s. Learning the ways of listening at this stage in my development had a (trans)formative effect in my life. Slowing down and listening to interiors, to the sounds and rhythms of the city, and to the natural world, became the foundation of my art practice and continues to feed my capacity to hold safe, listening spaces for others. These early experiences fed an embodied sense of inquiry, taught me to trust in the power of listening and the ways of improvisation. Pauline’s practice called Deep Listening is a joyful, contemplative, and critical practice at the intersection of art, science and healing. Deep Listening is Pauline’s extraordinary gift to the world.

“Deep Listening is listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, or one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening represents a heightened state of awareness and connects to all that there is. As a composer I make my music through Deep Listening.” – Pauline Oliveros (1999) Quantum Listening: From Practice to Theory (To Practise Practice).

On Friday, Nov 25, composer, philosopher and teacher Pauline Oliveros died at the age of 84. My heart goes out to Pauline’s loved ones, many friends, students and colleagues around the world who will miss her greatly.

Hope

As we bear witness to the tumult and disruption following the elections South of the border I am struck by the activation of stress-response systems in clients, friends, family and just about everyone I run into. Many people feel unsettled and anxious, angry, hopeless, and scared. Addictions amp up, tempers flare, despair seeps in. There is an atmosphere of low grade, underlying panic.

As animals, over millions of years, our nervous systems have developed protective responses which keep us safe in the face of threat. Fight, flight and freeze patterns kick in when we feel threatened, regardless of whether a threat is imminent or not. Stress hormones are helpful when we need to run to safety, to fight off or hide from an attacker, but chronic activation of our stress response systems leads to all kinds of health challenges, disrupting digestion, sleep, respiration, cognition and behaviour.

The election of Trump represents very real threats to many of those who are not male, white, Christian and heterosexual. It is also a traumatic blow to those who have dedicated their lives to working for equality and reconciliation, and those who seek justice for human and non-human kin while protecting the health of our planet.

Looking for hope I am inspired by the words of my friend, visionary and Somatic Experiencing™ colleague, Sage Hayes (http://embodiedliberation.com/), who writes:

“I have always believed that deep human evolution in this time is about simultaneously building our capacity to process the triggers of inescapable fear and trauma in our bodies while being able to remain boldly connected in our hearts, to ourselves and each other. We are 100 million years of being wired to run, kill or be paralyzed with fear. So this is it, a collective grand test of a lifetime – and in this we will be messy and we will fight and we will run and we will freeze…And maybe we will love.”

Sage Hayes (2016) In the Face of Fear Is Love Possible? was first posted on Facebook and can be found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-the-wild-things-are/201611/in-the-face-fear-is-love-possible

Hope lies in in the possibility of transformation and deepening connection, through the cultivation of embodied consciousness – “boldly connected in our hearts, to ourselves and each other.”

Courage, friends.