Kevin-NielsenKevin: January 20, 2010

Hello everyone. Thanks Peggy for fixing this. I thought of starting a new topic in regards to the body.  I have noticed a few people mention somatic approaches or dance movement therapy in their posts.  I would be really interested in what people’s thoughts are in relationship to narrative therapy and collaborative practices and the body.  I came across this article off of the Taos Institute website, which I will post below.  It is by John Shotter called Moments of Common Reference in Dialogic Communication: A Basis for Unconfused Collaboration in Unique Contexts.”

I found it really fascinating.  I thought it was clear and I often thought of my experiences in regard to dance and movement.  I think there is a lot worth quoting here.  This struck me:  “Thus it is the case that (in at least some of their aspects) all our activities are are to an extent ‘shaped’ by our body’s ineradicable responsiveness to the unique character of their surrounding context, then any inquiry into their nature that fails to take account of this–any inquiry that is driven by ‘ready-made’ textbook-methods, say, or any ‘interviews’ conducted in accord with pre-established ‘schedules’-will inevitably miss important aspects of our activities.  Indeed, they will miss just those aspects that make people’s activities and their utterances unique, both to the persons concerned and to the situations within which they occur.”

Shotter gives an example from Voloshinov of two Russians whose entire conversation is just one word, “Well,” which “taken in isolation” is “empty and unintelligible.”  Yet in the context of a May snowfall, with a particular intonation, set against a rich feeling contextual background (disappointment at a late spring snowfall) this single utterance achieves something more than “representation and intellectual” but “something bodily and relational.”  Shotter says it is a shared situation, “a moment of common reference.”

I found this fascinating because he put into words what I often experience in the forms of dance and movement I do:  shared situations and common references with others. And I would add, through spontaneous embodied awareness the possibility of making new meanings.  I became excited thinking how I could enter into these shared moments with my clients, perhaps not in a direct physical way as in dance, but in a no less real way with my body, attuned to his or hers, moving and responding in conversation.

Kevin

Bonnie Miller

Bonnie:

I love the way you’ve expressed this Kevin-

I’m not sure what the influence has been- maybe the posts here- but I have become more aware of being bodily present, and attending to body cues in my work with people.

Its more subtle than ‘body language’- or at least, some folks speak very quietly with their body language. And, I do think because of the conversations here, I have been giving more credibility and voice to what my body says during meetings- I am noticing and not dismissing- so far this has been quite useful.

I can’t read the article at the moment, but will get to it later. THanks for posting this…

Bonnie

Mohammad Arefnia

Mohammad:

Hi Kevin,

I liked this article and the part you mentioned about the one word communication in the context of May snow fall being a meaningful story for the two having a shared experience stood out for me as well, but I am not sure if I have understood the rest well enough yet. I need to read it again and perhaps more than once more!

One thing that struck me was about the language of otherness and by taking in the other one becomes the other. To me it spoke of letting go of experiencing oneself as separate from the other as in Buddhism.  Movement opens the door to experiencing the world through “knowing”, a kind of deep feeling perhaps, rather than judging through discrimination and opinion.

I heard Bissel van der Kolk speak a while back- the first paper I read by him was called something like “the body remembers”, in reference to the memories of traumatic experiences being held deep inside the lymbic system perhaps deeply in the form of feelings. He has changed course from his early 1990’s treatment models based strongly on psychopharmachological  treatment of trauma to now actually considering medications as a hindrance to the re-learning that is required to get around the trauma and his prescription at this time is: rhythmic movement, dance, yoga, meditation, singing, etc…

Makes me think of the whirling dervishes!

Mohammad

Olya Kozlova

Olya:

Kevin,

thank you for the article!

the ideas discussed in this piece, (otherness, shared moments of common reference, ways to create this shared reference),  resonate with the things i was thinking about recently…

and the word “well” really can express a whole range of meanings in russian…

olya

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

I am excited to read your comments.  Olya, it’s fascinating reading your comment that “Well” in Russian can express a whole range of meanings.  As an English speaker, I was of course thinking of this entirely in English and all the subtleties communicated in that scene.  I would love to hear more about what such a word expresses in Russian.  Mohammad, I enjoyed reading what said about Bessel Van der Kolk.  I was just at Kripalu and noticed a lot of his books there.  He is somebody I have heard about but not actively studied.  It’s great that he sees the value of dance, rhythmic movement, yoga etc as valuable tools.

I have personally found them so wonderful in own life in relearning and changing entrenched behavioral patterns.  (As an aside, you mentioned the whirling dervishes which reminded me of a fascinating documentary I saw recently called Mystical Iran that featured them).  Bonnie, I am thinking of what I just read of yours: “I have been giving more credibility and voice to what my body says during meetins.”  I think this is so valuable.  Just a short while ago, my supervisor asked me what I wanted to do in regards to a client.  “What does your gut say” he asked me.  He noticed my face was grimmacing.  Obviously my body was conveying something something in addition to my words.  Yet this idea of the body speaking fascinates me, and not only one’s gut.  I have found that when I am doing something where “I feel more in my body” (like yoga or dance) I do perceive and respond to the world differently.  Putting this experience into words is challenging and although the article by John Shotter was not about dance or that easy to read, there was something in it that I could definitely connect to in my experience with dance.  He seems to bridge a conceptual divide involving intellect and body.  Is there a way any of you access your body that helps you make decisions, either at work or with clients?  I need to see a client but I look forward to the conversation continuing.

Peace,

Kevin

Kevin-NielsenKevin:

Mohammad, your mention of Dr. Van der Kolk prompted me to google him and I found this short and fascinating interview with him. Thanks for reminding me of his work. This is really worth reading.

Yoga and Post-traumatic stress disorder: An Interview with Bessel van der Kolk, MD

As someone who sees a lot of folks who have trouble quieting their arousal system and who use substances to manage difficult feelings, I found his perspective really inspiring.  It’s not surprising that our society seeks “better living through chemistry”  rather than proven ways known for centuries in Asian cultures involving breath control and yoga.

Kevin

Jennifir Bailes

Jen:

Hi Kevin and everyone,

I’ve been offline for a bit but am very excited about this line of thoughts.  I haven’t yet read your first linked article, but I wanted to reply to your other post and also I was thrilled to see Dr. van der Kolk come up.

My first comment is to briefly address links between narrative and dance movement therapy. Actually in my earlier mention of expressive arts, I was thinking about visual art and externalization in terms of creating visual or tactile representations of imagery evoked in narrative conversations, although one could certainly move or dance metaphor, image, “conversation” or relationship between different aspects of person and problem, etc…

I and some of my team members went to a training by Bessel van der Kolk last October, and I was again struck by the power of an integrated approach, using movement and words to heal trauma. VdK talked about how the brain that has experienced trauma has more activity in the limbic areas and part of healing requires activating the front of the brain which makes stories and understands beginning and ending.

I will have to continue later, hopefully tomorrow, since the iPhone just takes forever to type on! So hopefully more later,

oh one last thing– there was a TED talk on mirror neurons that was illuminating, particularly in re: Buddhism no separation btween self and other… Wonderful how all is interdependent!

Good night,

jen

Kevin-NielsenKevin:

Jen,

It’s fascinating to read your post and I agree it’s wonderful to see how all this is connected and interdependent.  My wife (who is also a social worker) went to a training recently where they presented a couple techniques on treating trauma.  One involved having the person tell their traumatic story while the therapist snaps their fingers, claps their hands and in other ways gives sensory cues to remind the person they are here in this place right now and not back there.  I am sure there were other protocols in place but it made me think of what you wrote about healing requiring activing the part of our brains that tell stories and makes sense of things, especially when the limbic area is all fired up.

After my last post I searched around more at traumacenter.org, the website of trauma center where Bessell Van der Kolk is the director and founder.  There were some really great links and resources.  I have been reading one of his articles where he goes into more detail in regards to what he touches on in his interview.  Exciting stuff.  Being someone who is very interested in movement, I was fascinated how he speaks of emotions as activated to bring about action.

You mentioned that one could dance metaphor, image or “conversation.”  Personally I have been able to do this at different workshops and at different settings where I can dance and move.  I am always amazed at what emerges.  I recall one workshop where I danced different emotional states, such as anger, doing the small dance of anger and then making it bigger.  The experience was potent and powerful.  I perceived new ways how I moved with anger in my life.

I will look for your post again on visual art, externalizations and tactile representations of imagery evoked in narrative conversations.  I would like to hear more of this.  I love watching performance artists. In my substance abuse work, I am tempted to try and bring in more creative expressions of imagery and narrative conversations, especially in the weekly group I run.  It’s definitely an edge, though I do notice that some people can easily externalize their problem.  One exercise I have had people do is to introduce their “problem” by giving it a name and presenting it just as if they were going to introduce a person at a party.  Some had said things like “Mr. Thief” or “Devil’s Candy,” to refer to alcohol and cocaine.  I have thought a useful step would be to have people move this “person,” though like I said it is an edge and something I am probably afraid to try.

I am also looking forward to looking up the TED interview on mirror neurons.  Do you remember the presenter?

Peace,

Kevin

Jennifir Bailes

Jen:

Hi All,

I think this is the link to the TED talk re: mirror neurons, given by V.S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist and researcher:

VS Ramachandran: the neurons that shaped civilization

Very interesting in terms of what he says about movement as part of learning and evolution, neurobiological underpinnings of empathy, and that only the nerve receptors in our skin can convince us we are separate beings, while even our neurons might say otherwise.

A bit more on van der Kolk:  I see connections between narrative approaches, especially some of Michael White’s ideas about working with trauma, and the re-awakening of the prefrontal cortex, where story-making is located.  Michael’s use of narrative maps in conversations to discover a story of (for example) a client’s responses to trauma includes locating events in time, and vdK stated “what is terrifying about trauma is the loss of a sense of time” in flashbacks, memory, etc. so that it is crucial to say to clients ‘and notice what happens next’ when they are speaking about their experience. vdK also noted that people often describe the trauma or flashbacks as rendering them “dumbstruck” or “speechless;” brain imaging during flashbacks has shown that the language center is shut down, so the person is fundamentally incapable of finding words to put to their experience; vdK said it is virtually impossible to feel something deeply and talk about it at the same time.  vdK was very interested in body-based treatments such as the use of EMDR (was some of the snapping and clapping you mentioned related to that?) as well as stimulating acupressure points to regulate arousal so people can speak about their experiences and begin to reassemble image, sensory, and other aspects of the trauma into story, a sense of time, activating the prefrontal cortex.

Anyway, one should probably turn to van der Kolk for a more full and accurate picture of his research and conclusions, but I was struck by what seems to me to be the potential neurobiological usefulness of narrative conversations for people who have experienced trauma. I felt it was fascinating to see the effects of narrative conversations through the lens of neurobiology.

One more thing about expressive arts: Peggy posted an article on this site by Lobovits, Epston, and Freeman, and their discussion of the connections between narrative and expressive arts approaches spoke directly to my own experience I mentioned in prior post.  If you are interested in training in dance/movement therapy, I went to Antioch University New England in Keene, NH, and they have a certification program as well as a master’s degree program, and may also occasionally have week-long intensive workshops.  But I would also be happy to discuss more of my experience of body-based work with you.

Hope all this was at least somewhat coherent!

Have a lovely day!

Jen

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

Hi Jen and everyone,

What you have written is very coherent.  Thanks so much for posting the TED video link.  I plan to watch it when I get home.  That is so interesting what you say in regards to activating the prefrontal cortex in order to integrate image, sensory impressions and other aspects of trauma into a story.  I think there are a lot of exciting connections between neurobiology, narrative work and body-based approaches.  Working with trauma seems to highlight these relationships in dramatic ways.

I started reading a fascinating autobiography by Eric Kandel called In Search of Memory:  The Emergence of a New Science of Mind.  He is a neuroscientist, among other things, who has studied the biological basis of mind and memory.  What’s interesting in his book is that he begins with a compelling account of his own upbringing, how he needed to flee Vienna before World War II and what led him to become the scientist that he became to be.

Oh, my client just arrived, so I will have to pick this up later.

Peace,

Kevin

Martha Lopez

Martha:

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been reading materials connected to the topics of neurobiology and narrative work and body-based approaches in conjunction with what Jen and Kevin wrote concerning activating the prefrontal cortex to integrate image and sensory impressions. It’s also connected to one of Peggy’s very relevant posts sometime ago, along with what I read in Speaking of Faith, an interview with Adele Diamond. I have enjoyed reading and listening to Adele. In the interview she makes reference to Vygotsky and explains why Tools of the Mind: A Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education is so good. She said:

Vygotsky backs up the theory that we learn things by doing. Diamond gives an example, explaining that ‘If I asked who’s going to learn more, the driver or the passenger, about the route, you’d say the driver without even thinking twice and you know why. The driver had to use it while the passenger’s passively sat there.  The more you get involved with the body, the emotions, everything…the more you get

[from] it. In many ways it changes the brain, nurtures the brain. The social nurtures the brain, the joy nurtures the brain. The physical activity we do nurtures the brain.

As we know, Vygotsky’s ideas, such as Scaffolding Conversation and Zone of Proximal Development, mentioned by Diamond influenced Michael White’s work in developing Narrative ideas. For example Michael said in Maps of Narrative Practice:

“In these explorations [Vygotsky] determined that in a great majority of cases, development is founded upon learning. This was a challenge to much of the prevailing developmental theory of his time, which asserted that development preceded learning and that, on this basis, learning was the outcome of the unfolding of some genetic or neurological imperative. Vygotsky also emphasized that learning was an achievement not of independent effort, but of social collaboration. In this social collaboration, he observed that adult caretakers and more sophisticated peers structure children’s learning in ways that make it possible for them to move from what is known and familiar to them and from routine achievements to what it is possible for them to know and achieve.” (271)

In the interview, Diamond mention two important programs and both programs address all the parts of a human being.

“… both programs involve physical visual-motor coordination. They exercise executive functions. You have to sustain attention; you have to hold sequences in mind. They address your emotions. They give you joy. They give you self-confidence and pride. You feel like you’re a member of a social group.”

The first program mentioned by Diamond is called El “Sistema”, (the system) the program of J. Abreu, which is the Youth and Children’s Orchestra. They have been around since the mid-1970s. They’ve reached hundreds of thousands of children, mostly poor children. They take all comers. They don’t charge anything. The orchestra program even includes children who are deaf. And it’s been so successful in Venezuela that about 25 other Latin American countries have adopted it.”

You can watch this 60 Minutes clip of Gustavo Dudamel “El sistema” Youth Orchestra and see the connections to what Diamond is talking about.

Gustavo Dudamel “El sistema” Youth Orchestra

The other program is a dance program founded by Jacques d’Amboise, a remarkable ballet dancer in New York. Both programs are introduced in the clips, below. Here you can see the National Dance Institute, NDI, performing danza – the program mentioned by Diamond, which includes children in wheelchairs.

I hope you enjoy the clips.

Martha

Jennifir Bailes

Jen:

Thanks for posting those clips, Martha. I liked the connection to Vygotsky’s and Michael’s work as well. Those connections make visible a holistic approach to understanding and working with people.  Also reminded me I want to listen to the Adele Diamond clip. Sorry to be brief, but my family is stirring and we must go out! Thanks Martha! Have a great day everyone!

Jen

 

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

Thank you for the quotes and video Martha.  I will need to wait to watch the video, but I was able to read the article.  Quite fascinating.  I was struck by how the therapist used her own body’s reaction as a way to enter into the conversation with her client.  I liked this quote:  “the therapist listens not just to the narrative and emotions, but also to the body, observing carefully the somatic language accompanying the language of words. Changes in posture, gesture, breathing, face color, stillness vs. agitation, stiffness vs. floppiness or heaviness—all these changes tell us about the client and the story.”  It’s so subtle and profound.  There is my somatic reaction.  Are my muscles tense, is my back stiff?  There is what I perceive in the person in front of me and then there is the feeling, or our bodies reacting, to our communication.  I liked what the author wrote of how she communicated left brain to left brain but also right brain to right brain.  Giving pertinent information but conveyed with heart and warmth.  I was also reminded of Shotter’s thoughts on the importance of our spontaneous, bodily responses in communication and making sense of them.

Lately I have been thinking of automatic behavioral patterns, which is sometimes called addiction, and the dilemma and challenge of facing the stimuli but not reacting in the usual way.  How to activate the medial prefrontal cortex, “to simply observe our experience, moment-by-moment, without reacting to it,” or as Diamond observed, to get everything involved–physical activity, joy (emotions), and social collaboration to learn something new.  Recently I have had clients share some of their automatic physical getures associated with these patterns.  One client admitted how he found himself instinctively reaching out with his arm while watching football, the same movement used to grab a beer.  Someone else spoke of the movement trait of bringing their hand to their shirt pocket, a movement he did thousands of times when he used to grab a cigarette.  More and more I realize part of what helps is getting into the body, noticing the sensations, not reacting in the familiar way, and using both the right and left brain.

Kevin

Jennifir Bailes

Jen:

Hi Everyone,

thanks for your posts, Jordi and Kevin. As it happens, I just found out that Janina Fisher is giving a training here in Brattleboro, VT on March 19 called Broken Bonds: Trauma, Attachment and the Body. You can find out more about her here:  https://www.janinafisher.com/workshops.php

Jen

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

Thanks Jennifer.  How fortuitous!  I am looking into it.  Thanks again.

Kevin

Jordi Freixas Dargallo

Jordi:

Here’s something I want to share with you:

I am treating a young lady who is afraid of going to the dentist, having a vaginal exam performed, or a blood analysis or a ecography of her breasts (she has a polycystic breast). Whenever she has tried to undergo one of those exams, she has fainted, to the alarm of everybody in the room or even in the ward.

We tried to negotiate an externalising metaphor. She started with the notion of “Anxiety”. I asked what  the Anxiety did to her.

Answer: “I faint”.

Me: What comes to your mind, then?

Answer: Nothing, just that I’m fainting.

Me: What makes you feel that you’re going to faint?

Answer: My heart beats very fast. I’m short of breath, and yet I’m breathing very fast. (I notice that she starts to breath a bit anxiously)

That gave me an idea. I asked: Would you say that the Anxiety takes possession of you heart and your breath?

Answer: Right.

Me: I presume that you cannot do much to repossess your heart beating. But maybe you can do something as regards to your breath.

Answer: I can take a deep breath, hold my breath…

I invited her to try to do so, and she was able to.

The next session she was excited, even elated: she had gone to her gynecologist, who was a very nice lady, and when she had proposed her to perform a vaginal exam, she had agreed on it. During the exam, she was trying to breath in a calm way, then came the feeling that she was going to faint, then she took a deep breath, tried to get hold of her respiration, then came the feeling that she was going to faint, then she took a deep breath, and so on. The exam was performed and a smear of her cervix was taken. And she had not fainted!

Of course I promoted a conversation on this happening as a unique outcome.

So the following session she told me that she had had an ecography of her breast. No fainting at all. Next week she is going to the dentist for the first time since her childhood (when she had had a bad experience and fainted). And the surprising thing to her is that she is not thinking about it almost constantly as she used to do in similar situations.

My point is that in some cases externalisation may lead to the client having a different relation with his or her body.

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

What a wonderful story Jordi.  It’s interesting how the notion of possession seemed to work for her

and externalizing the anxiety became a way to take control of her breath and keep away the fainting.  It’s so true that externalization can help one have a different relationship to one’s own body.

kevin

Italo Latorre Gentoso

Italo:

Hello everyone!

This conversation is exiting! Yesterday I was in the bus back from the south of Chile with Carolina, my collegue, and she was talking to me about Vygotsky and many of the things that Martha said. Today I was working in the Hospital, talking to a woman who have a difficult relation with fear because an assault, we worked acknoledging a prefered story of a time in her´s childhood when she won the batle addressing fear, and there was she´s father saing her “with effort all is posible in life”, she´s teacher “I trust you, I know you will do it”, her´s mom “be pacient, this is not for ever, it will finish and you will be good”. I write all of her words and after I read to her. She cryes and said to me “this is important for me”, I ask her “Fear is vulnerable when you remember this story, and important persons, and their words for you?”… “Yes”… After the sesion I saw her in the coffe room at the Hospital, reading with so concentration the text that she tells to me… I hope this can develop a unique outcome like Jordi´s client, so wonderfull!!!

But after all of this, it was an after shake, very brief, but fear get me! So I went to talk with a friend in the hospital, he is psychiatric and told me: “put your hands like butterfly near your heart and bit one and one, left, right… that is for activate your brain” (the brain? the trauma? why all of this is the theme today in many parts of the world!)

Then Carolina, my partner said to me by chat “think that you have to take care of me”… I connect with many feelings, and fear was diminished, not desapair, but much little…

I am trying to say that all of this storys are so conected that I am impressed… synchrony? This happends so much when I work in drama therapy, is so beautifull how we are conected! I think that this woman with whom I´m working the fear in now very connected with she´s father, teacher (of chilhood) and mother…

Thanks you for all this conversation

Ítalo

Jennifir Bailes

Jen:

Thanks Italo and Jordi for your stories– it is so inspiring for me to hear about how you are using narrative approaches in your work with people! I love hearing about the work of folks in the study group because it brings me feelings of community, re-engages me with these practices, challenges and rejuvenates me to keep refining my skills. I am enjoying the synchrony across oceans.

Best,

Jen

Sarah Hughes

Sarah:

I, also, wanted to express that these stories moved me in a way that made me also feel more connected to this community and to the ways I like to work.  Italo – I thank you for sharing your story of fear.  I can only begin to image how I feel with an aftershock – scary…

You story made me think about the way I am trying to bring some body work into my practice but it doesn’t always feel collaborative.  Yesterday I was working with one woman who has has a very traumatic event happen in the winter and now is afraid to be alone, afraid of the dark, afraid of her basement etc.. I felt myself get kind of scared and I moved away from stories into some practical stuff around breathing and connecting with her body.  it was very directive. ANd did not feel like good work to me.  Although I recently trained with a somatic therapist who is very directive and says that is how it must be in her work and she feels good about it.  i don’t feel quite so good yet.  I think I need to find more collaborative ways to bring in the knowledges and understanding of brain and body and story to my more narrative paradigm.

Do people have any thoughts/ideas/wonderings about how they do this?

Later yesterday I met with another woman who was really struggling with fear and instead of going into breathing etc we re-membered her grandmother and her French voice telling her she loved he and it will be okay.  With that I felt her body relax and breath and then we talk a bit about body stuff and that felt so much better, congruent, collaborative to me.

Thanks again for this conversation,

Sarah

Lori

Hello all,

I am an MSW student currently taking a course on Narrative Approaches with Peggy. I realize that this post has not been active since May but I am hoping someone will notice this more recent response.

I am interested in focusing my attention on work with those affected by trauma. Even with my novice understanding of Narrative Therapy the potential benefits of employing such approaches while working with this population is apparent. I also see movement as beneficial for someone experiencing the effects of trauma. As you all pointed out, traumatic events are held within the body. My limited knowledge has taught me that while in a trauma-induced dissociative state the survivor’s body is somewhat frozen in time. When these instances occur constantly over a period of time, one can only imagine the energy and somatic memory that is being stored. I feel like movement used to express these frozen energies can help to release the detrimental effects of traumatic experiences.  As one poster mentioned, Van der Kolk has spoken about the way the language center of the brain is shut down during flashbacks. I also think that the frozen state of dissociation impairs one’s ability to speak about the traumatic event after the fact. My thought is that the use of an alternate language, such as expressive movement, could become a basis for reflection and the use of more standard language, eventually releasing the trappings of trauma.

I am interested in hearing more about integrating movement with Narrative approaches. Peggy gave an example in class were movement was used during outsider witness practices as a language for reflection. I could also see movement used in session to support meaning making. Have you all discovered other ways of using movement in conjunction with Narrative Practices? I thank you for your time.

 

Sarah Hughes

Sarah:

Hi Lori and everyone,

I’ve been away on summer vacation and then stayed in summer mode – ie away from the computer as it has been so hot and beautiful and I live on the shores of a lovely lake that is perfect for swimming.  But I am now getting caught up with the “real” world as I have to get back to work and back to being a therapist.  I am glad to see so many great conversations that I can catch up on.

This question/comment caught my interest as I am really working to find ways to integrate somatic approaches with narrative.  Lori – are you familiar with any of the somatic experiencing work.  Peter Levine?  I wrote my master’s research paper on integrating these approaches last year and I continue to be caught up in the ideas.  I recently did a level 1 somatic experiencing course and I am doing level 11 in the fall.(october in this hemisphere)  I have connected with the teacher and she is doing some consulting with me with particular clients.  I find it so useful – as yes some people tell the story not with words but with their hands or their experience of sensations. I find so many times that starting with sensations leads to images leads to a beautiful reauthoring story of resistance and suddenly the freeze thaws. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway – I am happy to talk about this more if you are interested as it is a topic that excites me and I am working with all the time in my understanding and practice.

Sarah

Lori:

Hello Sarah,

Thank you so much for your response. I had never been exposed to somatic experiencing or Peter Levine. I just viewed some of his work online and I am very excited to read his books. I have never thought about the effect of traumatic events on animals. Animals do go through life-threatening expereinces on a daily basis and would be unable to survive if each experience caused traumatic symptoms similar in humans. I was surprised that my understandings of trauma are in line with others. He even wrote that the trappings of energy are the trauma and that traumatic symptoms are a result of “frozen residue of energy” that is not discharged. I feel charged reading a bit of his work. Thank you for suggesting it. Unfortunately, no trainings are in my area in the near future. However, I am hoping the book will give me a better understanding of his ideas for practice.

My first exposure to the pairing of body sensations and truamatic events was through EMDR. I am sure you are familiar with EMDR but I will say that I was struck by the way this practice linked trauma inducing experiences with feelings in the body. This link changed my way of thinking about the effects of trauma and caused me to seek dance/movement and even a puncing bag as a method for expelling the pint up energy.

So, you employ Peter Levine’s strategies in conjunction with narrative therapy? I would love to hear more about that. Do you have any other suggestions for embarking on this path? I am sorry you have to catch up with this “real” world but I am glad you saw my post as my subscription will be cut off in one week. Thank you again for your insight.

Lori

Kevin-Nielsen

Kevin:

Hi Lori and everyone,

It’s wonderful to hear of your interest in the body, movement, narrative practice and its applications in such areas as trauma.  I find it very exciting to hear of all the approaches that are out there.  For myself I have had my personal interest and professional interest and have looked for ways to bridge them.

Personally, I have felt so blessed to be a part of a dance community that meets regularly.  In one context it is different people taking turns putting together music and co-creating a space where it is permissible to move and express yourself in movement.  In another there is some facilitation united behind a theme, music and offering more reflection.  And another there is no music other than the impulses to move, connect and pay attention.  In all I believe there is a feeling of trust and an invitation to explore sensations, move with imagery and express feeling (with no consciousness altering substances).  I am amazed at the healing power of all this, both for myself and others.  At times it feels like therapy which it isn’t.  Sometimes it feels spiritual.

Professionally, I know there there is exciting work being done that seeks to explicitly use movement and the body for healing, especially with trauma.  I am familiar with Peter Levine, though I haven’t read anything of his.  I would like to learn more Body Mind Centering, Continuum, or Sensorimotor therapy.

What inspires you to learn more about this topic?

Kevin

Lori:

Hello Kevin,

Thank you for your reply. The opportunities you have for movement sound enlightening. I am drawn to the use of movement in therapy because of my background in dance. I have distanced myself from the typical ballet, tap, jazz combo and found expressive movement to be a powerful addition to self-reflective work. I enjoy connecting with thoughts and feelings through movement, without the use of music. My experiences have moved me in the direction of trying to adapt this into work with clients. What I have learned about narrative approaches resonates with me and my desires for clients facing the effects of trauma. I am hoping to understand ways in which to mesh these aspects together in practice. Have a good day. Any additional information you could offer me would be much appreciated!!

Lori

Sarah Hughes

Sarah:

Hello Lori and everyone,

I hope you last week is going well.  I was thinking about you this week as I am noticing more how I am trying to integrate narrative and somatic.  It is still a very bumpy path for me as the approaches are so very different – so I try to keep a narrative theoretical base for myself while adding in what I am learning from somatic.  When I watch somatic therapists work they are usually very directive and not so collaborative as feels right to me – so I am trying to so both. Hmmm…..

I was working with a woman this week who kept describing a pain in her stomach and she was wondering if it was her meds.  I wasn’t sure about that and so asked her to describe the pain more, the particulars of the sensations.  Many people do not have language for this so I try to offer a smorgasbord of options – warm, cold, tingling, churning, aching, sharp, dull…. This lead her into describing a smooth tight feeling – and the image that came to her was a turtle belly, smooth white and hard.  As we worked through an reauthoring/ externalising kind of conversation with the turtle belly.  She came to a place through exploring this pain that it was not all bad and in fact felt protective of her.  She connected it back to her childhood of violence and abuse – and how that feeling is a warning and a sense of needing to keep herself safe. She had a much more complex understanding of her pain by the end and it had lifted a bit but she seemed to be not so wanting to get rid of pain at that point.  It wasn’t a miracle but felt really powerful and she walked out of the office with a straighter back and a smiles and jokes with me.

ANyway – that is an example of how I work with bodies in narrative ways.  I see now how much people mention pain or body issues and how I can use this now as a possible point of entry into a narrative conversation. With the work I do in mental health – with so many people with such histories of trauma – it jsut seems to fit so well and be so useful.

Sarah

Italo Latorre Gentoso

Italo:

Hola a tod@s

I have time for a brief comment. I am thinking about how to link narrative approaches and bodie therapeutic practices. Obiusly, I know there are other works developed, like Dune’s Narradrama, but I am recently thinking in something that I want to ‘think more’, I don’t know if is correct. The disctintion of the I, Me and Myself. I think that the ‘I’ as observer is like rationality, ‘Myself’ is something like ‘what I (the observer) know that ‘I am’, and the ‘Me’ is like ‘the bodie’ or the phisical. I realy think that this is a base for developing a narrative action-bodie therapeutic context… I will think more and share.

Is this making sense for someone?

Is there any one interest in this can think with me?

Ítalo

Hello all

Sarah, I really appreciate the case example you provided. I think it demonstrates the deepening and stretching of understanding narrative approaches allows for. It seems to me that by supporting her to ‘thicken’ the somatic feeling with descriptive words, you helped her to attribute the “turtle belly” with a protective signal anxiety. I think any time a client is able to leave the office feeling more self-assure and self-aware, great work has been done. I am beginning to understand how I can maintain a narrative theoretical base while employing various techniques. Although, I realize that I have a distance to travel before I am completely comfortable with any technique. Thank you for your continued support, I have a few more days and will continue to think and share.

Lori

Sarah Hughes

Sarah:

I am thinking about what you said Italo. And I am interested in thinking about this more.  It reminds me of Russel Meares work – have you read him?  His book Intimacy and Alienation is very good.  So good that I have it out overdue from the library!!! Months overdue.  I really must attend to that. and maybe buy my own copy – it is an expensive book but the fines are more!

Anyway -his work is what Michael used to base a lot of thinking around trauma and memory and identity.  meares talks a lot about that concept of “sense of myself”  I am thinking about how so much of the work I do around trauma gets caught up in the body – the me is separated out from the myself it feels.  ANd the work of the therapist seems to be to help build that bridge. Maybe… Does that make sense?

Meares work also reminds me of the importance of going slow in this work.  Staying attuned.  I tend to see connections to the body but I know if I leap to that and try to connect it to the trauma it is not particularly useful but if I slow down and really stay with the person and just look for points of entry and then gently try different routes and notice what fits and what does not – and some of this noticing is in the body.

I am working with one woman who has so much pain. Stomach aches, head aches, pain in her arm that feels like bruising but there are no bruises.  We have talked about her pain for many sessions and meds.  And she always comes back to talk more about meds.  ANd of my other attempts to find openings or build a bridge between her body and her identity fall flat.  The psychiatrist I consult with told me that she is a “Concrete thinker”  and that I will never move beyond these same conversations.  Hmmmmm…. any ideas?

Sarah

Bonnie Miller

Bonnie:

Hey Sarah- Walter Bera had a great question for folks who ascribe success to some other factor (like AA groups, or God, or meds) He asks the person “What are you doing to help the (meds) be effective for you?” … or something to that effect.

I wonder if a question like that might take you somewhere new…

Bonnie

Italo Latorre Gentoso

Italo:

Excellent question, Bonnie!

… Sarah, I am thinking about. I know the work of Russell Mears reading Michael. It’s very interesting. Yesterday and today I re-read White’s chapter of trauma and understand more things.

Quote from: Sarah Hughes on July 30, 2010, 09:32:53 AM