For me the absolute core of healing is radical self acceptance. And by radical I mean fully allowing ourselves to let go of all the programming and conditioning of our lives, especially those done during childhood, and choosing who we want to be rather than who we were told to be.
There are so many ways that we are given messages growing up, from our parents, other family members, from our culture, any religions we grew up with, and from society in general telling us who we should be. These messages are often asking us to let go of some basic aspect of our humanity, such as many religious teachings that tell us that there is something wrong with us if we don't want to be in a monogamous relationship with one other person of the opposite sex for the whole of our lives. This is simply just not true to who we are as people on the whole. And I just want to add that for some people that is who they are, truly desiring monogamy for their lives, but biologically we aren't programmed that way and those wanting this tend to be the exception rather than the rule, whatever our culture says otherwise. Not to mention those who are gay or bi or trans which I deeply believe comes from nature and not nurture. That on the whole people are born that way and it is truly awful and traumatic for them that they are constantly judged for simply being who they are.
So the work is about giving ourselves permission to let go of other people's ideas of who we should be and the healing comes from fully accepting ourselves for who we are.
And there is a deep Somatic aspect to this too. And by that I mean that when we are told that certain feelings/emotions are not acceptable, we will try to shut those feelings down in our bodies. And the work is then to allow our bodies to feel what we've been told not to feel and the healing comes from allowing ourselves to finally have the full range and breadth of our emotions and feelings.
Addiction is something that is rife in our society. Although most people
think of addiction as being centered around substance abuse, such as
Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine or other narcotics, hallucinogens or
stimulants, it can also include things like over-eating, over-working,
over-exercising, and sex addiction. Addiction can be seen as any type of
behavior that we use to numb ourselves (self-medication) or bolster low
self-esteem (external self-esteem regulation).
The self-medication type ususally takes the form of alcohol or other
drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, although it can also
include the abuse of prescription medication, or things like over-eating
and compulsive sexual behavior (visits to prostitutes, pornography,
internet sex etc). I am of the school of thought that it is not the
substances themselves that are the problem, but our relationship to the
use of them. Simply put, if we are dependent on a substance, as in
feeling an adverse effect from stopping the use of said substance, or
use that substance to numb from/avoid feelings/emotions, then we have a
problem. If we occasionally use these things and would feel just fine stopping them anytime than in my opinion there is nothing wrong with that.
External self-esteem regulation takes the form of behaviors that involve
seeking ego boosts to maintain our sense of self. Such behaviors
include over-working to achieve success financially or greater prestige,
sexual conquest behavior, and abuse of power (such as physical
abuse/wife battering). And also included in this category would be
dependency on relationship ( as in only feeling worthy because one is
loved and being unable to sustain being on one’s own for any length of
time). Once again, none of these behaviors in themselves are unhealthy,
unless we are dependent on them to maintain our self-esteem.
And it is often the case that we fool ourselves into believing we are
not addicted, by stopping one kind of addictive behavior, only to then
begin another (as in the person who gives up cocaine only to begin
drinking more alcohol). What also makes dealing with addictions so
difficult is that many of them are socially condoned or even actively
encouraged in our society (such as over-achieving or over-working).
Most approaches to dealing with addiction focus on cutting out the
addictive behavior. I prefer to work on the underlying causes that lead
to addiction, such as unresolved trauma, depression,
self-loathing/hatred, a fierce inner critic/judge, feelings of shame,
insecurity, inadequacy or a host of other reasons. From this viewpoint,
addiction is simply a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem
itself. My experience is that once these underlying problems begin to
get addressed and treated, the addictive behavior will cease to have
such a pull on the individual, and will be much easier to break free
from. And as the individual becomes healthier and happier, the addictive
behavior will simply cease, since the need for it has gone.
There is another aspect to addiction that is almost totally unaddressed
in our culture, in our medical and psychological approaches to healing
addiction, and it is this: The reason most people engage in addictive
behaviors is quite simply to get high. In my opinion, there is nothing
wrong with wanting to get high, or wanting the high that certain
substances or behaviors can bring us. Rather, my view is that we are
seeking to get high in the wrong ways.
The healthiest and best high in my experience comes from intimacy, from
the open, honest and authentic sharing of true feelings, emotions and
experience between people. When we can come to learn how to relate to
each other in this way, then the need to find high's through addictive
behaviors simply vanishes, since the artificial substitutes
have been replaced by the natural way.
Therefore i prefer to work by helping to guide the client to healthy
ways of getting their needs met first, and then the addiction will
simply fade way.
But i do want to make clear that here I am referring to what would be
called functional addicts: This means those who are addicted in some
way, but manage to continue keeping their lives more or less together
(holding down a job, being in a relationship). But in certain cases
where the addictive behavior is out of control, and threatening to
destroy the person's life, then it is necessary to work the other way
around, in terms of having the individual stop the addictive behavior
and then developing treatment plans and goals accordingly. It certain
cases this is absolutely necessary to avoid serious negative
consequences an out of control addiction can cause.
For me no one approach is ever the right approach in all situations. We
are all individuals and although we share many commonalities, each of us
needs to be treated according to our uniqueness. And I do encourage
those dealing with addictions to join twelve step/and or recovery
programs, especially since these programs enable people to find support,
help, encouragement and community around their recovery process. But I
do not insist on their joining recovery programs.
What feels vital to me is that those I work with know that they can come
and seek help to deal with the addiction without having to face the
The self-medication type usually takes the form of alcohol or other st.
I have experience working with all sorts of trauma, including sexual,
physical and emotional abuse(whether experienced as a child or an
adult), rape, car crashes, domestic violence, bereavement and divorce. I
work with issues from childhood such as neglect, abandonment, divorce, and being the child of an alcoholic or otherwise addicted parent(s).
I also work with what is known as inter-generational trauma. This is
where a traumatic event has such a profound impact on an individual
within the family, or on the whole family or even community that the
trauma gets past- on from generation to generation. This is a rarely
recognized and little understood phenomenon in our culture at large, but
one that is very real. The result of trauma is that we develop what is
known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition which can be
severe and debilitating.
My approach is informed by the work of people like Peter Levine and Pat
Ogden. Their theories ( and these are being increasingly supported by
current medical research) view trauma as resulting from trapped energy
in the body. Simply put, the theory is that trauma occurs when our
normal responses to fear, which are fight or flight, are not available
to us. ( An example of this would be if a child is abused by one of
his/her parents. You may be able to run away from your own home, but in
the moment of trauma, that option is often not available to you, and you
can’t fight a parent who is much bigger and stronger then you and on
whom you depend for your well being. Thus, you can not fight and you
can’t run/flight). The energy that our bodies generate within us to
enable us to fight or run away gets trapped inside the body, creating
blocks that limit our freedom of movement and expression. It is this
trapped energy that needs to be released in order to overcome the
And on a more simple but deep and powerful level trauma causes us to check out of our bodies, and Somatic therapy is a powerful tool to help us feel safe to re-inhabit our bodies so that we can once again have the full range of our feelings and emotions.
The second major way in which trauma affects us is in the cognitive
distortions they create within our belief system. As an example, if you
were violated as a child, you grow up believing that it is normal for
others to violate your boundaries. These cognitive distortions need to
be recognized and changed to more positive and healthy beliefs about the
I therefore use both Somatic techniques such as Hakomi and Process work
(please see the links on the left or bottom of this page for more
information about these approaches) and Cognitive techniques (including
EMDR, a very effective new technique that combines Cognitive and Somatic
approaches) to help those who have been traumatized to heal.
Healing trauma is delicate work. I usually wait quite a few sessions,
until my client and I have gotten familiar and comfortable with each
other, so that a very safe and secure container in created in which the
trauma(s) can be healed. There is a very fine line between releasing and
thus healing a trauma and simply re-traumatizing someone, and it takes a
sensitive and competent therapist to help guide the client through this