We are born knowing how to be - our baby selves, our instinctual
selves know spontaneously how to feel ‘at home’. As we grow older,
we may for many reasons lose something of this inner certainty. We
sometimes come to feel estranged from ourselves, not ‘comfortable in
our skin’, with no ‘ground under our feet’, experiencing many
different troubling feelings. Old stories, old patterns of being and
relating, painful or traumatic life circumstances can hold our
bodies, literally, in their grip, restricting our capacity to live
fully, to live in the present moment. While verbal exploration of
difficulties can bring understanding, it is at times essential to
listen closely to the stories in our bodies, maybe to move them, in
order to bring them to consciousness and to feel the shifting, the
changing from old patterns to new ways of being.
Our bodies speak our history, personal and collective — our
experiences, feelings, memories. Our bodies also carry burdens that
our psyches cannot consciously carry. If these burdens become too
much to bear we may close off sensation. The process of
re-inhabiting the body — living within and relating from our body —
is the work of somatic psychotherapy.
So often the parts of ourselves where we feel the most shame or fear
or hurt can actually help us when we get to know them better — help
us to stay with ourselves and to feel more compassionate towards
ourselves, more complete.
In private sessions we work in a variety of ways, depending on what
feels right for each person. We may sit and speak the whole time,
while paying attention to what is happening in your body, or we may
shift between words, body awareness and movement. Perhaps we follow
a posture, a gesture, an image, a dream, a fear or a longing into
movement and let it take form that way. Sometimes we play.
The medium of movement gives us access to our creativity, a natural
human process, and leads us into new places, new dimensions of
ourselves, “like a pathway opening up before you as you step” (Mary
For some it can be very helpful to follow physical impulses into
movement in a less intentional way, with eyes closed, letting them
move us without self-censoring. In this way we may meet invisible
parts of ourselves. The Discipline of Authentic Movement is a
practice that I often teach people as it allows less conscious
aspects of our being – and deeper levels of knowing - to emerge.
People are often unfamiliar with somatic psychotherapy and don’t
know if this is right for them or not. In a first session we get to
know each other a little and I introduce something about this way of
working. Then we decide whether it feels right to embark on work
together. How long we continue our work varies, depending on the
needs of each person.
There is no need for any previous movement experience. It is very
common to feel shy initially - the therapist gives careful attention
to enabling a feeling of safety. Sessions are 60 minutes long and
people wear ordinary clothing that would be comfortable to move in.
Underlying our work in the studio is respect for each person’s
experience, trust that we are each doing the best we can, and a
readiness - and a curiosity - to stay in not-knowing, in order to
learn together what needs to happen next, what needs to unfold next