Welcome and thanks for visiting.
This website is a great place to start to get information about my work and resources that might be helpful for the healing journey you are on.
You really do have it in you to heal. Together, with my my experience and guidance and your engagement and curiosity, we can help support and encourage your capacity to flourish. Ultimately it's your body's built in readiness to heal that leads the way.
On this page you'll find:
-A very basic description of the process of Somatic Experiencing ™ (SE ™ )
-Information about what sessions are like
-What kind of stress and trauma is included in the work I do
-Ways to stay connected through email and Facebook
On other pages (see right side bar), you'll find:
-More about how SE ™ works
-Videos I've made to help you learn more about SE concepts (helpful resources)
-Guided meditations and exercises you can use right now to help you settle. (Free Downloads)
-Information about my background and credentials. (About Brandy)
-A calendar of my available appointments, and available services. (Services & Scheduling)
Process of Somatic Experiencing ™ (SE ™ )
I work using a method called Somatic Experiencing ™ , and we typically go through three phases to help improve your health and vitality, while reducing symptoms.
1. Stabilzing and Orienting - learning some tools to help reduce your symptoms and start feeling more ease. Reconnecting with your capacity for pleasure. Here's a detailed blog post I wrote about this phase: here
2. "Pendulating" - A term coined by Peter Levine. Reestablishing the rhythm of healthy processing of stress and building self-regulation.
3. Renegotation and Integration - As the system begins to trust the stability you've built, it begins to work through older, stored up physiological processes from past stress.
These phases don't always happen in a linear way - we are following the organic intelligence of your system. People typically find that things begin to get better fairly quickly, and continue to improve through all phases of the work.
What does that look like?
An SE ™ session can sound like a typical counseling or therapy session. One difference is that while we talk, I will be tracking the response of your autonomic nervous system to help facilitate the phases described above. I will also be referring you back to body sensations, because these sensations are crucial information to both of us about how to move through the phases. Don't worry if you don't always notice your body's sensations - it's something we'll work with together.
You don't always have to tell the story to heal. It is not about reliving the experience - it's about allowing your body to recognize that the event is in the past. This is done gently, so that your system's circuits don't get overloaded.
SE Table Work
In the past four years, I have begun focusing more and more on doing SE table work, and seeing even greater results than SE with talk alone. Most people who come to see me have a very difficult time getting into a state of relaxation that allows for optimal trauma healing and day-to-day improvement of symptoms.
The work begins with me touching your back (with a still hand) to make contact with your kidneys and give outside input to the state of things. By this I mean that your kidneys/adrenals are convinced that there is stress or threat. Much of that response is left over from past stress when, after the stress/activation passed, your body was not able to return to a baseline, and stayed in a chronic state of activation. My hand comes into the kidney area in a very calm state and gives the signal: actually, everything is okay. This information travels throughout the alarm signals in the nervous system and, often very quickly, the system will calm down.
As we repeat this process from week to week, what we find is that your system learns to access this state on its own. Then, it is easier for you to access cognitive and emotional parts of your experience and work with them. Combined with the tools I give you for working with stress outside of session, most people find symptoms decrease or change fairly quickly (depending on how severe the symptoms have been, and how long they have been happening).
If you already have a trusted therapist, our SE ™ work can be an adjunct to the good work you are already doing there. One psychiatrist recently told me that after just a couple of months, his client had begun to use skills and concepts they had been working on for years. It was all "in there," but because of the constant high stress, she was unable to access it, integrate it or apply it.
What kind of trauma and stress can be worked with in SE ™ ?
Practically any kind. People typically seek my support for things like:
-A specific event that caused emotional, physical or spiritual overwhelm
-Ongoing stress from childhood, chronic illness, or any other ongoing challenge, past or present.
-Physical symptoms from accidents, falls, or any other injury or illness - whether or not it seemed to be emotionally stressful.
Read more about my work on the More About SE ™ page.
For information on scheduling, fees, and such, go to Services & Scheduling.
Licensed California Marriage & Family Therapist #49771
Copyright Brandy Vanderheiden 2007. All rights reserved.