When I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the month of June 2013 hiding out from the horrible allergens back here on the West Coast, I met a wonderful therapist there who also works with women and eating disorders. We became fast friends and she was fascinated with my family systems approach to therapy and I was equally intrigued by her body-centred approach and in particular, her expertise in treating trauma. We came from completely different vantage points, and taught each other so much about our particular approaches to working with clients and helping them in their healing.
I was so impressed with what I learned from her- she had extensive training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy– that I decided to take the first level of training when I got back to Canada. Luckily, I found the level one-Training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory– was available that fall in Vancouver which is only a four-hour journey for me.
Trauma is a theme that runs throughout the vast majority of my clients’ lives, and yet in the past twenty-plus years during which I have trained and since worked as a therapist, I have never taken any intensive training in working with trauma in a hands-on way. To be honest, I think a big part of this gap has to do with my own fear. Having been through multiple traumas myself and also struggling with an anxiety disorder, I have felt that helping people process their own individual traumas would be the undoing of me and that I couldn’t handle it psychologically.
To be fair to myself, I have been in this field since I was nineteen and had to go through a significant amount of my own healing journey before I was mature and strong enough to be able to handle other peoples’ trauma. Even now, at 42, I have major trepidation about entering into the trauma therapy field, but I felt that I needed a challenge and that I owed it to my clients to have at least a basic foundation in my understanding of trauma and how to best work with it, so I plunged head-first into the Level One Sensorimotor training in the fall of 2013 and I am so glad I did. In short, it has been life-changing.
At present, I am three quarters through the first level of training and have loved absolutely every minute of it. I have learned so much about what constitutes trauma, how it gets stuck in our bodies, and how, as a therapist, I can assist clients in releasing it for good. I’ve even been using what I’ve learned with my clients and it works! I am so delighted to now be able to add the body into my psychotherapy work and am thrilled with having another fantastic therapy tool to work with.
If you are interested in learning more about Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, I highly recommend that you check out the main website: http://www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org/home/index.html
The following is a brief history of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy from the mainSensorimotor Psychotherapy website:
In the early 1970s, while working as a technician and yoga/dance teacher at a short-term psychiatric hospital, Pat Ogden became interested in the correlation between her clients’ disconnection from their bodies, their physical patterns and their psychological issues. Before the Diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Dr. Ogden recognized first-hand the way in which many of her patients were at the mercy of reliving the past, and that current treatment methods only seemed to trigger traumatic reminders. Recognizing the link between the body and psychological issues, she began to form the foundations of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® by joining somatic therapy and psychotherapy into a comprehensive method for healing this disconnection between body and mind. In 1981, after co-founding the Hakomi Institute, pioneered by Ron Kurtz, Dr. Ogden founded her own school, a branch of the Hakomi Institute, which is known today as the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI). Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® draws from somatic therapies, neuroscience, attachment theory, and cognitive approaches, as well as from the Hakomi Method. Since the first course in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® was offered in the early 1980’s, it has gained international acclaim. The first book on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy®, Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy, published in the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology in 2006 gained international acclaim.