Wilderness therapy provides us with a unique opportunity to understand and help people heal from trauma (any overwhelming experience the body and brain cannot successfully integrate and process). As a Somatic Experiencing Therapist, I work in a body-oriented way to help people heal from PTSD, complex PTSD and other physiological symptoms of anxiety, depression and other stress disorders. Somatic Experiencing (SE) draws on research in the areas of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, medical biophysics and 45 years of successful clinical application by the founder, Dr. Peter Levine. Year after year of clinical application of SE among its many practitioners indicates it is one of the most effective forms of trauma treatment that exists today. And while newer to the wilderness therapy community, more and more programs are recognizing the importance of incorporating body-oriented mindfulness in the healing of their clients.
Viewing entries posted in 2018
This time of the year is tough for most everyone. Holidays with a loved one in crisis is beyond challenging. I was speaking with the mother of a client today and I asked her how she was doing with all of it, and her response struck me. She said, “I am feeling sad. I went to pick up my husband from the airport, and I saw all the college-aged kids being greeted by their parents and it made me very sad.” And that makes perfect sense to me.
“The Road to Self Belief is potholed.” Nyasha Madavo
Often, I’m asked, “What does the fire-making process have to do with therapy?” I embrace this curiosity and even expand it to relate to thriving in life.
Intensive. Isn’t that a funny word? Therapeutic intensive. It's kind of scary sounding. And still unclear in what it actually means. Right? When I am asked what I do for a living, and my response is “I am a therapist. I run therapeutic intensives”, the responses are awesome. I typically get, “Woah. I need one of those,” “Oh no! Don’t diagnose me!”, or complete blank confusion. So, regardless of your response, here I am to share what I so passionately call my career!
Three months ago my life changed forever when I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. The experience has already begun to teach me many things about myself, my partner, my family and friends, and even the world. One of the many things inspiring reflection came when I started to introduce our daughter to her younger cousins and family friends. Whenever our baby was in the presence of these small children, I found myself constantly reminding the children to “be gentle." All other adults in the room did the same. We even used a gentle coaching tone when we echoed the words. Of course, we did this because newborns are delicate and young children are often unintentionally clumsy and unaware of the impact their actions may have.
In my work with parents of students in our wilderness program, I often tell them two things that I believe are the most important way to help their kids while in the program. The first of these is to show up for your child. The second is to do your own work so that you can be the healthiest you can be and therefore support your son or daughter in their process, successes, and struggles. In this article, I will examine further what doing your own work means.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine, Rachel, who works in the field of higher education at the University of Utah, and I mentioned a presentation that I was beginning to prepare for on the role that technology plays in the mental health of young adults. My co-presenter (Tim Mullins with Evoke Therapy) and I had come up with some ideas that we wanted to explore and flesh out, and I was talking to Rachel about these still unhatched ideas. She was very excited to hear of the topic we were presenting about, and she told me of a book that she had recently read called iGen by Jean M Twenge. Let me clarify: Not only did she tell me about it, but she also said I HAD to read it. So read it I did.
A year after I graduated from high school I found myself flying home from a 7-week backpacking trip in Thailand. On the way, our plane hit heavy turbulences while over the Himalayans. At one point, the aircraft fell into an extreme descent and, I was certain that we were going down. I thought to myself, “this is it”—luckily it wasn’t. If it had, I wouldn’t be here writing this. We continued in the unstable air for hours. That experience has made an indelible impression, rising to the surface whenever I am once more at 36,000 feet. I have anxiety. Fear creeps into my bones, I can hardly breathe whenever it gets bumpy.
Several years ago I started to notice this sense of free-floating anxiety. As I explored it deeper and worked with my own therapist, I recognized that my anxiety was connected to needing to be in motion. I felt the constant need to be doing, completing, and accomplishing. Slowly I began to recognize my struggle with just being, sitting, and really feeling. With being, came self-judgment. I made the realization that my sense of self-worth was tied into my ability to be productive and my fear that if I am not productive and purposeful then I won’t be good enough. As I built this awareness, I was able to explore new ways of showing up in the world. I began to push against my own discomfort, fears, and insecurities in order to embrace just being. This was no easy feat and I cannot pretend to have mastered it. However, I will say that I no longer believe I need to be productive in order to feel good about myself and I no longer feel that free-floating anxiety.