I’m a body-oriented or somatic therapist specializing in helping folks heal from early adverse childhood experiences, aka developmental trauma. I completed my undergrad in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1993 and my Masters of Science in Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. I’ve been a licensed clinical Social Worker in Colorado since 2006.
An Adventurous Soul
Not sure if you caught the 10-year gap of time between getting my undergrad and graduate degrees? Well, I spent those entire ten years both travelling around the world AND teaching mountaineering courses for Outward Bound schools in Colorado, South Africa and California. I was also a part-time bartender and telemark ski-bum in Bend, OR. I lived close to the earth and her seasons, fell in love with mountain-scapes, slept under the stars and lived very well on very little income.
Those years “playing outside,” as my father used to say, were pivotal in my character formation, development of confidence and ultimately, my desire to be of service. At Outward Bound in Colorado, I ran courses for inner-city youth as well as Boys Town residents at Outward Bound South Africa. Working in South Africa for two years, cemented my desire to go back to school and get my master’s degree.
During grad school, I had an internship working with survivors of domestic violence and was committed to working in that particular field when I graduated. Unfortunately, I botched my interview with the local domestic violence shelter and ended up getting a position working with the severe and persistently mentally ill for a couple years. From there, I transitioned to working in eating disorders and discovered that I had a knack for working with this population. I worked at higher levels of care like partial hospitalization programs as well as at the out-patient level.
My interest in somatic psychotherapy took root as I watched clients struggling with their eating disorder, relapse again and again. And again. It seemed that just using behavioral management techniques and top-down, mind-based approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), was not cutting it. There had to be more than just becoming aware of your thoughts and/or changing your thoughts with affirmations that my clients had such difficulty believing.
In 2007, I began training in Peter Levine’s approach to healing shock trauma called Somatic Experiencing (SE) and it was the missing link to mind-based approaches as it incorporated the body as an ally in the healing process. SE radically changed the way I oriented to my clients and how I ran sessions. I loved it!
From there, I was led to trainings in healing developmental trauma. And let me tell you, Dear Reader, I was born to work with developmental trauma based on my own hard experiences as a kid.
Healing From Early Trauma
I had long known that my early family life was not ideal. My parents were immigrants from the Philippines trying to raise their eldest daughter, ME, with Filipino values surrounded by American culture; it was challenging to say the least. On top of this, my parents had little capacity for meaningful emotional attunement and believed that teaching me to “Obey” was the way of things. To put it bluntly, I grew up deeply emotionally neglected and lived with a lot of fear as both my parents were often angry, rageful and physically abusive.
When I signed up for a training called Somatic Resilience and Regulation (SRR), a training designed to help clinicians understand the global and negative impacts of early trauma and how to treat it, I was surprised to see myself in the words and information being presented! For all the hard work and effort I had put into my healing, it suddenly made total sense why my struggles felt so deep. It was both heart-breaking and liberating.
Co-regulating Touch (CRT)is the skill set and therapeutic orientation that came out of SRR and that supported quantum leaps of healing and growth in my personal life. It helped me to not only heal at a deeper level myself, but also to be a “deeper” healer in my work with clients. I truly believe that the more a therapist has healed his or her own issues and done their personal work, the more effective and compassionate that therapist is for their clients.
I’ve been working on myself for over 25 years and while the journey continues, I can honestly say that I feel FULFILLED in every aspect of my life and I’m more resilient than I’ve ever been. I have fought my way here and I’m proud of this and more deeply motivated to serve those like me, who grew up in really hard conditions as a kid.
I want this for you too. More fulfillment, resilience, and personal empowerment.
Who wants Co-regulating Touch?
The clients most attracted to this work are folks who:
- have tried talk therapy approaches for anywhere from 2-25 years only to find that they still feel stuck in their struggles,
- have tried shamans, men’s/women’s groups, medicine ceremonies, nutritional therapy… all the things, and still feel “off”
- have a “seeker” mentality and are genuinely motivated to not only understand themselves better but also to heal from the hard stuff
- are curious about somatic-based approaches to therapy and have maybe tried Somatic Experiencing sessions
- have early histories of medical issues, neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other attachment issues.
CRT is all I want to do with my clients and it has made all the difference in the world to see how my clients have benefitted!
When I’m Not “Therapizing”
I’m out playing in the mountains with my amazing family. We are big nature lovers and adventurers and the mountains are where I go to recharge, unplug and wind down. I have a particular “obsession” with collecting cool kicks and really love to dance.
I also spend a fair amount of time reading, researching and exploring other personal growth modalities. There is so much to learn when it comes to healing and overall wellness! It’s important to keep up with the latest findings to bring to my clients. Woven into all of what I do and who I am is a commitment to spiritual growth and embodying compassion. My commitment to helping clients heal from trauma is not only because I want to support you in feeling better, but also because when you heal from trauma, you have greater capacity for empathy, generosity and connection to the Divine.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me!