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Not only can the human’s being not be understood without madness,

but it wouldn’t be the human’s being if it didn’t carry within it madness as the limit of its freedom.”  

Lacan/Fanon

[Cisgendered, able-bodied,
medium dark, brown-skinned
black woman with long dark
dreadlocks bearing a pleasant,
closed mouth smile with soft 
eyes.  This impromptu selfie
was cropped, such that only
face, hair and high upper chest 
appear in the photo, for the
purpose of strategically hiding
“the mess” in the background….]

SOMATIC APPROACH

“I will always lean my heart as close to your soul as I can.”  Hafez

“One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.”  John O’Donohue

 

I’m a social justice-focused, somatic therapist whose work is shaped by 25 years of engaged theorization on race, class, gender, citizenship, migration, and diasporization.  My therapeutic work troubles how liberal expressions of intimacy recreate white/western universalisms in the therapeutic encounter, things that can render therapy complicit in the reproduction of social injustices and ultimately intergenerational traumas.  To this end, I engage the whole person and the lineages in which they are situated, opposed and aligned.  Equal attention is given to individual/familial experiences and the broader socio-historical contexts in which these experiences are violently and mundanely normed in the present and over time: conquest; slavery; colonialisms; genocides; forced and voluntary migrations; indenturement; economic and legal selectionism; cultural and legal consequences of geo-political border shifting, environmental crisis/global warming; the cultural and institutional enforcements of ableism, binary sex/gender normativity and criminalization; and other non-repaired, historical and political formations and events resulting  in the harmful normative social practices that contextualize individual and familial trauma.  Through attuned sensorial and verbal connection I facilitate engagement with somatic expressions that communicate silenced, unvoiced, and unmet needs reflecting current, intergenerational, and historically unintegrated stresses. 

My intention is to recognize and honor each individual’s current capacities and the socially-hierarchized relational fields in which these capacities are lived and navigated.  I tenderly foster a sustainable process of capacity-building toward resilience and profound connection with self, one’s communities and the world.  A first step in this direction is having the experience of sincerely being seen and met for who you are and for what you and your communities/lineages live/d.  I whole-heartedly hold the space for this encounter.

Traumatic experiences – whether relational or event-centered, or whether situated in the past or the present – share a common thread: the experience of the absence of choice.  My approach supports new explorations of spatiousness that yield opportunities for creatively mobilizing experiences of agency.   This process of knowing, feeling and acting from a place of mobilized agency is foundational for transformative healing: it can allow us to vulnerably and intimately appear to ourselves and the world.

I specialize in adults processing what is variably referred to as early, developmental, or relational trauma, involving early life experiences such as the following: having to fend for self early in life; severe misattunement or disregard from emotionally and psychologically struggling caregivers; abandonment; emotional/narcissistic abuse; physical and sexual trauma, including incest; and addicted/alcoholic caregivers.  I support individuals who are living the somatic, emotional, and physiological effects of early trauma which can manifest as dysregulated stress, autoimmune complications, depression, and anxiety.  I also have extensive experience supporting BIPOC academic faculty and graduate students, as well as individuals moving through inquiry-inspired professional and life transitions at all stages of adult life.

I especially welcome working with individuals engaged in Transformative & Restorative Justice processes: survivors/victims; person’s causing harm; and TJ & RJ facilitators.  

PRO BONO SUPPORT FOR THOSE WRONGLY CONVICTED/EXONEREES.  ONLINE SESSIONS AVAILABLE.  I approach wrongful conviction and the aftermath of exoneration as unique psychic experiences that require specialized therapeutic support.  Please inquire for further info.

 

EXPERIENCE

My practice is informed by 13 years of training in Somatic Psychoeducation, also known as Perceptual Psychoeducation and the Danis Bois Method <danis-bois.fr> & <cerap.org>.  Created in France in the early 1980s by osteopath and physiotherapist Dr. Danis Bois, Somatic Psychoeducation is a fascia-focused practice whose roots originate in the osteopathic tradition.  As the practitioner’s empathetic hands perceive and slowly follow an autonomous ‘inner movement’ – a vital life force permeating all tissue matter – they guide individuals through the perceptual experience of sensing this ‘inner movement’ themselves.  The process of sensing this curious phenomena solicits the experience of ‘appearing to’ or ‘sensing’ one’s self at a profound tissue level. Such perceptual entrainment brings sharp awareness of the enlivened intelligence inherent to physical matter; it awakens individuals to their embodied potentiality, thus supporting or accelerating personal inquiry processes.

I’m a certified Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP) and my current work is deeply informed by intensive training and assisting in Kathy Kain’s touch practice <somaticpractice.net>.  This is a trauma-focused practice that uses attuned touch to sense an individual’s immediate capacities for physiological and behavioral regulation.  The intention is to explore the unique pathways through which each individual is available to the cultivation of internal experiences of safety and thus capacity expansion and resilience. This approach is foregrounded by the idea that sustainable change and resiliency will not occur until some internal sense of safety is tangibly experienced.  Kain’s approach taught me how to creatively apply the deeply refined touch sensitivity I developed in the Danis Bois Method to trauma-based cases.  

A rich research past as an academic equally enhances my approach to my work.  I previously taught in the Departments of Anthropology at the University of Florida and the University of Chicago where I focused on theorizing the re/production of pervasive social norms like racial, gender, class, and citizenship bias; I assessed how adverse, everyday sociocultural patterns go unrecognized because of our normative relationships to them.  Today, as a social justice-informed somatic therapist, I employ an abolitionist anthropological eye (see Savannah Shange, 2019) that’s skilled at excavating un/subconscious social patterning that is reproduced in the therapeutic field. And now I work from a reversed perspective: instead of assessing how or why patterns work, I attend to the safety conditions that support their unraveling such that people acquire access to sustainably mobilizing their agency in the world.  I had the fortunate opportunity to explore such unraveling as core faculty in the Somatic Studies specialization doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute (2016-2019).  I recently made the decision to leave academia, again, to create space for an exclusive focus on my craft as a somatic trauma therapist operating from an abolitionist anthropological perspective.  This work includes service as a researcher and teacher of the embodied experience of decolonizing reality and possibility.