© 2017 by Laura Parker, MFT

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
I have completed Level 2 of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Training. "The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, founded in 1981, has developed its own unique method of somatic psychology theory and practice informed by interpersonal neurobiology, neuroscience, trauma and attachment research. Often referred to as a "body-oriented talking therapy," Sensorimotor Psychotherapy blends theory and technique from cognitive, affective, and psychodynamic therapy with straightforward somatic interventions, such as helping clients to become aware of their bodies, to track their bodily sensations, and to implement physical actions that promote empowerment and competency." (Pat Ogden, 2015)
Nature Connection

I understand human beings as essentially inseparable from the vast self-organizing system that is our planetary home. The earth is alive, intelligent, diverse, creative, and oriented towards health, growth, and fulfilling its potential. I believe that many human problems derive from our disconnection from our earthly, organic, animal nature. Much of my therapeutic work aims to repair this disconnection and the imbalances that have ensued.

Somatic Awareness

I am interested in how the body carries the legacy of trauma and attachment inadequacies and in how to help you change this legacy through somatic awareness and changing the habits of physical action and posture that keep you stuck in the past. My experience has led me to trust the natural intelligence of the body as a reliable source for answers to our deepest, most soulful and existential questions about how to solve our problems and find our place and purpose in this world, this life. Following the trail of sensation, gesture and imagination can open doors to the vast unknown resources which lie within each of us. The body can also guide us through the healing that is needed so we can grow and blossom, bear fruit, and become seed again, like healthy plants.

 

Trauma Resolution

I am trained in the use of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for the resolution of trauma. An event is “traumatic” when it overwhelms your normal, everyday coping resources. Recent advances in the treatment of trauma emphasize that the “legacy” of the trauma - how the past lives on in the present - is more important than the traumatic event itself. This means that in trauma treatment, it is not always necessary nor even advisable to spend a lot of time re-visiting the painful details of the past. What is more important is discovering the ingenious ways you adapted and survived your past experience, and how those adaptations may be problematic now, in your present life.

Attachment Repair

“Attachment” refers to the bonding relationship between infant and caregiver. Some early experiences of parental neglect, abandonment, or mis-attunement can lead to “attachment wounding”. The strategies you devised to protect yourself from the original pain of attachment wounding can lead to problems in your current relationships, such as angry acting out, fear of intimacy, desperate clinging, or the inability to leave harmful situations.

 

Mindfulness

My therapeutic work places a high priority on mindfulness of the present moment - noticing what’s happening right now, rather than analyzing or thinking about it. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Paying attention in this way has many therapeutic benefits. Mindfulness helps to increase awareness of what is actually occurring and how your experience is constantly moving and changing. It also helps you to shift your sense of who you are - from being your thoughts, emotions, etc. to having your thoughts, emotions, etc. With this shift of perspective you are empowered to relate to your experience with more compassion, curiosity, and courage.

 

Anger Management

For over 10 years I developed curriculum and taught Anger Management classes at Kaiser Oakland. Changing angry behaviors requires a journey of self discovery. The anger is there for a reason that is most likely related to trauma or attachment injuries from the past that are triggered in the present situation. Anger seeks to protect you by stopping a perceived threat. But most angry behaviors create more problems than they solve. In addition to stopping harmful behaviors, effective Anger Management involves:

  • increasing awareness of the unmet needs, tender feelings, painful memories, and diminished self-concept that lie beneath an angry outburst

  • taking responsibility for your own feelings, needs, and behaviors (this means stop blaming other people for your experience)

  • learning to soothe yourself and calm down before speaking or acting

  • communicating assertively - expressing your feelings and needs, asking for what you want, saying no to what you don't want - in a way that respects yourself and the other person.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on the role that thinking plays in both the maintenance and the disruption of unhealthy patterns of relating to self and other, and engaging in life. Seeing the dynamic, co-creative relationship between thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and body sensations can be very empowering - in terms of knowing that who you are is bigger than the patterns you observe, and in terms of being able to disrupt those patterns. You have to know what you are doing before you can stop doing it.

 

Deep Imagination

You may receive inspiration, guidance and support through the window of your imagination. Imagery, symbols, or metaphors that can come to you through dreams or life events or sudden epiphanies can be powerful flashes of insight or meaning that shed light on the deep themes that are unfolding in your life. Together, we listen and watch for these underground currents that may emerge unnoticed if we are not paying close attention.

 

Practical Skills

Therapy can include developing some necessary life skills that you never learned.  For example, you may have never learned affect regulation (how to calm down when you are upset).  Or, maybe you never learned authentic communication (how to express your feelings and needs, how to ask for what you want and how to say no to what you don't want). Or perhaps you never learned emotional intelligence (how to listen and respond to the messages carried by the various emotions - grief, anger, fear, shame, jealousy, etc.).

Spirituality

What inspires awe and wonder in your life? What opens up a point of view, a way of being, an experience that is bigger than your current sense of yourself? Developing a relationship with your spirituality can bring confidence, wisdom, and impetus to your unfolding life.

Training, Experience, Credentials and Affiliations

Professional Training:

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level II: Training in Emotional Processing, Meaning Making, and Attachment Repair

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level I: Training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic memory

  • Foundation Training in Ericksonian Hypnosis

  • Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Two-year post-graduale internship in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Professional Experience:

  • 10 years teaching and developing curriculum for skills-based psycho-educational classes - Anger Management, Overcoming Depression, and Communicating Assertively - at Kaiser, Oakland

  • 4+ years providing individual and group supervision and teaching clinical seminars for psychotherapy interns at Holos Institute

Personal Experience:

  • Meditation - since 1997, numerous Vipassana retreats (Spirit Rock) and Somatic Meditation (Dharma Ocean)

  • Yoga - ongoing personal practice

  • Nature Connection: Permaculture Training at Regenerative Design Institute; Immersions in the mysteries of nature and psyche with Animas Valley Institute; The Art of Mentoring with 8 Shields Institute and Jon Young

Credentials:

  • 2001 - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #MFC37654

  • 1996 - MA in Social/Clinical Psychology, New College of California

Affiliations:

  • Member, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"The story told by the "somatic narrative" - gesture, posture, prosody, facial expressions, eye gaze, and movement - is arguably more significant than the story told by the words."

 
 
 
You didn't come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.
- Alan Watts