What does a typical session look like?
I have attempted to describe the process in What Happens in a Session. Because sessions are uniquely tailored to every client, information particular to your circumstances and to your nervous system will be given to you after you book your first session and during the assessment process.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions required to change a person's nervous system pattern and restore regulatory capacity varies, according to individuals and their life experience. Although most clients notice changes from their first session, until I ascertain your goals for our work together, and experience your nervous system pattern first-hand, I am unable to comment upon the number of sessions you will need.
Do clients normally experience results after one session, or does it take more time?
Clients always experience changes from the first session. To get permanent results we have to work at the pace of the client's body - which is entirely dictated by their body, not by our mind's timeframe. The body will not let go some of the stuck traumatic energy until it feels safe enough to do so. The body has lots of ways of protecting us from falling apart. The mind fears we will never put the pieces back together again if we do. So, for some people, knowing that they won't die if they let go their trauma might be achievable in minutes, for others, longer. If it's longer, we have to work at establishing more safety for the individual. The best yardstick is how much trauma is stuck in their nervous system. If there's a lot, it won't be safe to let it all go in one session.
How often should I have a session?
Long-term, permanent change to patterns created over decades (sometimes the whole lifetime), requires commitment. When clients start noticing change in their lives, they feel motivated, and want to continue, which leads to permanent change.The nervous system is a learning system, just like the brain, or a muscle, and regular effort is required for change to occur. You wouldn't expect a beach body after only one yoga class. The nervous system also needs time to change old patterns and maladaptive habits. Clients generally consult with me either weekly or fortnightly to change their nervous system.
Do sessions have to be in-person, or can they be conducted online via Skype?
Sessions can be in-person at my clinic in North Brisbane or online - Skype, Zoom, or a similar encrypted platform (VSee) are all possible.
Can Brainspotting be done online?
I've developed a specific method to do Brainspotting online, and I have also been trained in two other methods as part of the Brainspotting protocol, so there is plenty of flexibility. It helps if you have some awareness of your internal sensations, although it's possible to work around that too. We can do Brainspotting without any props, but it's worth buying some colourful stickers or starts to mark the spot because you don't have my pointer to hold the spot for you. I'll be watching your eyes very closely though, and will give you feedback. After a few sessions, some clients have purchased two pairs of safety goggles and used duct tape to make them into Branspotting goggles. That's all that's necessary to be able to do Brainspotting EXACTLY the same way as it's done in-person.
Can I get a rebate on the cost of sessions?
Services are not covered by mental health plans, and consultations are not eligible for Medicare or health fund rebates.
Can I exchange or swap for sessions?
I don’t swap with anyone, even if I want their service. It's too difficult for me to do my job if I have to maintain the boundary of an exchange while giving a session. By it's very nature, trauma is a physical boundary breach, so we need to start with good boundaries, otherwise we are setting the stage for traumatic re-enactment. Clients need me to hold as much of the traumatic event as necessary to protect them from being overwhelmed (and re-traumatised). If I’m taking care of fiscal boundaries, I'm not fully with my client, ensuring their safety and taking care of the process.
Which kind of session should I book - Psychotherapy or Mind-Body Mentoring?
I don't follow a formula or a manual - every person gets exactly what they need. Similar things tend to happen in both types of session. If you want support for personal growth, holding capacity for wealth, or business expansion, Mind-Body Mentoring is the session type you should choose. If you have trauma, or a chronic illness, Psychotherapy is the type of session you should book. Usually psychotherapy clients have symptoms related to trauma from early childhood, and they expect to work with me regularly over a longer time to resolve those issues.
Can you recommend any reading material so I can understand the process better?
There are several books and a few academic papers which describe the origins and theory behind Somatic Experiencing® trauma renegotation therapy. The seminal text is written by Dr. Peter Levine, and most people find this an excellent starting point on their journey:
Levine, P. A. and Frederick, A., (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Other books (not an exhaustive list) on healing specific types of trauma which also refer to the Somatic Experiencing® method developed by Dr. Levine are:
Levine, P. A. (2010). In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. A., (2015). Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past - A Practical Guide for Understanding and Working with Traumatic Memory. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. A. (2005). Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Levine, P. A. and Kline, M. (2008). Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parent's Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. A. and Phillips, M., (2012). Freedom from Pain: Discover your Body's Power to Overcome Physical Pain. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Heller, D. Poole, and Heller, L. S. (2001). Crash Course: A Self-Healing Guide to Audo Accident Trauma and Recovery. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Heller, L. S. and LaPierre, A (2012). Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image and the Capacity for Relationship. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Other recommended texts:
Changaris, M. (2015) Touch: The Neurobiology of Health, Healing, and Human Connection, LifeRhythm.
Porges, S. W. (2011). The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-Regulation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Rothschild, B. (2000). The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Schore, A. (1994). Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development. New York, NY: Routledge.
Lewis, T., Armini, F., Lannon, R. (2001). A General Theory of Love. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Lawson, C. A. (2000). Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship. Landham, MD: Roman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.
PEER-REVIEWED SE RESEARCH
Click Here for published research describing the results of the first randomised-controlled study into Somatic Experiencing® (SE) for PTSD:
"Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study."
Journal of Traumatic Stress, 0, 1-9., 2017.
Brom, D., Stokar, Y., Lowi, C., Nuriel-Porat, V., Ziv, Y., Lerner, K. and Ross, G.
Click Here for published research describing the outcomes of Somatic Experiencing®-informed group therapy for gender diverse populations:
"Somatic Experiencing® Informed Therapeutic Group for the Care and Treatment of Biopsychosocial Effects upon a Gender Diverse Identity."
Frontiers in Psychiatry, February 2018.
Briggs, P. C., Hayes, S., and Changaris, M.
Click Here for published research on 'interoception' and 'proprioception' as core elements of Somatic Experiencing® trauma therapy:
"Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy."
Frontiers in Psychiatry, February 2015.
Payne, P., Levine, P. A., Crane-Godreau, M. A.
Click Here for published research on the effect of Somatic Experiencing® trauma therapy on quality of life and psychological health:
"Effect of Somatic Experiencing Resiliency-Based Trauma Treatment Training on Quality of Life and Psychological Health as Potential Markers of Resilience in Treating Professionals."
Frontiers in Psychiatry, February 2018.
Winblad, N. E., Changaris, M., and Stein, P. K.
Click Here for a copy of published research into how applying the principles of physiological safety in group therapy deepens interpersonal processing by group members:
"Group Psychotherapy Informed by the Principles of Somatic Experiencing®: Moving Beyond Trauma to Embodied Relationship."
International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 67, sup1, S171-S181, 2017.
Taylor, P. J., and Saint-Laurent, R.
Click here for a published article (page 41) in a leading research journal about neuroscience and toddlers' attachment behaviours.
"Toddler Trauma: Somatic Experiencing, Attachment and the Neurophysiology of Dyadic Completion."
International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 5, 1., 2017.
Riordan, J. P., Blakeslee, A., and Levine, P. A.