Category: Somatics & Sensorimotor

Why do women have sexual fantasies of rape?

The United Nations describes violence against women as a “pandemic in diverse forms.”[i] Thirty-five percent of women have experienced sexual and/or physical violence, often in intimate relationships. In some nations, an unimaginable seventy percent of women have suffered sexual and/or physical violence in intimate relationships.[ii] In every country in the world, the threat of sexual and physical violence is …

How chronic traumatization interferes with meeting goals and completing actions

Trauma-related stress reveals itself in many ways: flashbacks, nightmares, emotional overwhelm, shame, obsessive thoughts, decreased concentration, apathy, and even loss of a sense of self. When trauma-related stress is chronic, which is a common outcome of early life abuse and neglect, these symptoms become a way to live without actively recalling the past. As one …

Know your habitual defense responses and live within your window of tolerance

Here’s the scenario: You are moving across country. Driving from Los Angeles, CA to Sarasota, FL. Everything you own is in your car. EVERYTHING. You need to make it to Sarasota FAST. You start a new job in less than a week. You’ve given yourself 3 days driving — at most! — and 2 days to settle into your new …

What I learned about the importance of ‘tend and befriend’ while surrounded by a SWAT team

The pretty South African woman sitting next to me said our flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth was taking longer than expected, although I hadn’t noticed. I arrived in South Africa only a few hours before. Jet lagged, I was wrestling with the cellophane wrapper guarding the plastic cutlery that came with my in-flight meal. …

Too stressed to meditate?

Buddhist psychology claims there are three primary feelings, or sensations, which meditation can help access: Pleasant, Painful, and Neutral. Arising from these primary feelings are our reactions to them, the so-called secondary emotions. For example, we feel desire or joy in reaction to pleasant feelings, anger or fear in response to painful feelings, and boredom …

The sensorimotor approach to storying trauma

Far too often, getting on with ‘everyday life’ requires suppressing the impact of traumatic stress on body, mind, and spirit. This self-imposed desensitization to one’s own suffering also lessens how empathetic we are to others’ suffering, including to their stories of trauma. Much like the Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and blog aggregates that keep us …

Trauma-informed psychotherapy puts the body – and love – back in mental healthcare

Painting of the word "Love".

For the past 50 years, psychotherapy has taken a back seat to biomedical psychiatry, largely due to reliance on medications for the treatment of mental disorders. Yet clinical evidence increasingly points to chronic, unresolved traumatic stress as the source of many — if not most — mental disorders. Furthermore, longitudinal analyses show continued use of psychotropic medications …

History after trauma

In 2012, I saw on display at SFMOMA Sam Durant’s “History never ends, I hate to bother you”: Sadie Coles HQ gave this explanation of the piece: “The show’s title [History Never Ends, I Hate to Bother You] may furthermore be read as a sardonic refutation of Francis Fukuyama’s famous postmodern thesis ‘The End of History?’, which proposed …

A sensorimotor approach to becoming indigenous (and healing trauma)

Trickster plays with me. Last week I wrote about Indigenous wisdom as a “gentle” trickster for violent, destructive times. This week, while hiking among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, I learned the Paiutes Indians called these rock pillars the “Legend People,” who coyote trickster turned to stone because of their evil ways. Looking …

The wisdom of no escape

For several days, I felt a physical uneasiness in response to the Newtown tragedy. From my sensorimotor psychotherapy training, I interpreted the activation in my body and my unusual emotional sensitivity as evidence that I was outside the window of tolerance. You know you are in your window of tolerance when you are resilient to …

Pat Ogden on sensorimotor psychotherapy

I am training with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute and loving it. Not only have I witnessed amazing outcomes with clients, but practicing sensorimotor psychotherapy leaves me feeling more grounded, mindful, and peaceful, which hopefully also translates into better experiences for my clients (and perhaps even my husband). Pat Ogden founded sensorimotor psychotherapy in the 1980s. …

Attachment and the intergenerational transmission of trauma

I have blogged about the connection between love and psychotherapy, and the topic is up again for me after a recent sensorimotor training. In part, the training focused on the relationship between early life attachment, character development, and later life patterns of relating. The gifted (and seemingly indefatigable) Dr. Janina Fisher led the training, tossing …

Trauma’s imaginal worlds

Few people pass from birth to death without intimate knowledge of trauma’s capacity to alter the landscape of the psyche. So many experiences are traumatizing: war, rape, death, car accidents, hurricanes, earthquakes, bullying, scapegoating, incest, family violence, racism, homophobia—and this, a cursory list at best. Even if you are fortunate enough to dodge trauma, its …