Life can be hard, but working it out together makes things easier. We get hurt, but we can also recover and thrive.
This page has information about who I see, how I work, the modalities I use and what you can expect from a session.
Who do you see? I provide counselling and trauma therapy to individuals, usually adults with children, couples, and children and family support in certain circumstances.
Can you tell me more about how you work? At the centre of my practice is YOU. I seek to understand your feelings and thoughts, your current circumstances and strengths and challenges, what has brought you to where you are and where you want to be going. Whatever frameworks or techniques I bring to our sessions, these will be with the aim of attuning to you and what you need.
Is there a difference between counselling and trauma therapy? Counselling is often very here and now focused. We think through the challenges and issues that have spurred you to seek help. Together we make sense of what is bothering you and we may strategise and look for tools and resources to support you.
I work largely from a client-centred perspective, meaning that I trust that you have you have the strength and the answers inside of you, but it is through exploring together that they can be found.
Trauma therapy (somatic psychotherapy) of course takes this exploration deeper. We spend more time not just analysing or gaining insight into what happened or is still traumatising as if from a distance, we get down into the feelings and memories, the story and deeper experience and effects of things. Whether your traumatic experiences stem from childhood abuse or neglect, adult relational abuse, shock trauma (eg. car accidents), or ongoing chronic stress and/or illness, we can explore and support you to feel less affected and more resilient and empowered in your own life.
In my trauma work, I work broadly from a somatic psychotherapy perspective: bringing together body and mind.
Could you say more about somatic psychotherapy? Psychotherapy is the exploration of the self, the psyche. It is not a medical model, where one is diagnosed or it is assumed that there is “something wrong that needs to be fixed”. Instead the focus is on understanding who you in the context of your history, your current circumstances. It is in this process of making sense together that the ties that bind us unhelpfully are loosened (eg. what might get diagnosed as anxiety or depression) and the places we wish were more available to us grow (eg. our sense of strength or purpose). This is a deeply relational way of working that understands that our sense of self and belonging in the world is shaped by the quality of the relationships we have.
Soma means body. We are not just talking heads, not just thinkers, not just psyches. We are feelers and emotions happen within our bodies, but we are often a bit disconnected or overwhelmed by our feelings. It can be important to our sense of wholeness to be able to sense ourselves as embodied people and to be able to feel our emotions more deeply.
Additionally, with recent interest in the role of the autonomic nervous system (fight, flight, fawn, freeze, social engagement and orientation – I think of this as being in touch with our mammalian self) in our responses to life events there are new ways of working through traumatic events and building resilience by bringing more awareness to our body sensations and impulses.
Bodywork is also part of my practice. This is from the Somatic Experiencing training (see description of modalities below) and is another way of coming at what is happening. This involves lying on a massage table, fully clothed, working out together hand placements and then tracking sensations, finding meaning and memories and emotions together. This can be very helpful particularly where there is chronic illness or pain, to help us get at what the body is holding and support it back to ease.
Somatic psychotherapy, then, weaves together (as if they were ever truly apart) our body and mind, our thoughts and feelings, our ideas and our lived experience.
What modalities/theories do you use? I draw on four main models in my work:
Self psychology: from the work of Heinz Kohut, this model understands our developmental needs throughout life with a special emphasis on how to support those of us whose childhoods were lacking in the kind of care that helps us develop that strong sense of self that lets us feel robust in the world.
Somatic Experiencing: Developed for shock trauma by Peter Levine, SE helps us track our body sensations and thwarted defence responses, our needed resources, and our own healing capacity to renegotiate traumatic events allowing our nervous systems to come back into alignment and ease.
Integral Somatic Psychology: From the work of Raja Selvam, this is a process of finding emotions in our bodies and expanding the feelings so that we both move through old, stuck feelings and build capacity for both more joy and bearing the pains that life inevitably brings.
Spiritual care: Is another broad term, but uses many of the skills of counselling (careful listening and understanding your experiences and life story) but also holds your larger meaning and sense of purpose and connection. We all have values and beliefs that underpin our worldview. This modality helps us connect and repair these deeper needs for a sense of belonging and connection to something larger than ourselves.
In supporting couples I draw largely on the Gottman Institute work. In parenting support I draw on understandings around attachment needs and Parent Effectiveness Training.
All of these together form the basics of the somatic psychotherapy and counselling that I provide.
To learn about my education and training and ongoing professional development, please see About Chantal.
What can I expect from sessions? Sometimes we will simply talk through the issue or situation that you bring and make sense together of what is happening and how you are feeling about it. This can help you to feel heard and known and understood which often has the wonderful effect of helping you feel better, clearer in yourself, and often helps the way forward to become clear.
Of course, sometimes you may want some extra tools or resources. In this case, we will look at things you can do to support yourself: a toolbox or emergency kit of information and practices that might be helpful.
At other times we will use specific processes to help resolve a particular traumatic experience or we may do some activities together that can help highlight or evoke certain feelings and support understanding or insight in ways that talking together just can’t quite get at. We may also shift into some bodywork.
To find out more or book an appointment with Chantal.