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Pacing Psychotherapy in the Wake of Disaster

A Somatic Lens for Guiding Our Work

Tragic events cause devastating loss and suffering.  Clinicians suddenly face challenges with their own resiliency as they work with the life-changing events their clients struggle with.

Your clients seek help, as they bring their heart-breaking stories, crippling emotions, and unique styles of coping.  Effective therapy needs to address their responses to the trauma, their grief and loss, and the survival needs that arise.  Your clients movements, postures, vocal tone, and facial expressions are a window into how their nervous system is managing (or not.)

This 3-hour presentation will address ways that therapists, from all orientations, can learn to effectively observe, understand, and work with the traumatic reactivity that their clients experience.  Regardless of the magnitude of any trauma, we can track a client's nervous system responses to help them engage in the work of facing and moving forward in a manageable fashion.

It is possible to get closer to your client’s process than their stories and emotions.  We can notice and work with nervous system responses that are driven by parts of the brain that do not have verbal language.

Also, it is easy for therapists themselves to be overwhelmed when helping clients cope with these recent events.  We will learn ways to track our own resiliency to help us be present enough to do the work, and to define our tasks in possible terms.

In this presentation you will learn to:

  • Use detailed somatic awareness to both expose client’s processes, and to facilitate working through challenges, in ways that more cognitive approaches do not.

  • Utilize effective somatic tracking with the “Window of Tolerance” as an active lens to follow nuanced dynamics and patterns, build resiliency, and keep the work well-paced

  • Identify ways to orient your client using their senses to guide their activation from hyper- and hypo- states.

Presenter:  Craig Penner, LMFT, has been in private practice in Santa Barbara, CA since 1982.  He is a teacher and consultant, and founded Natural Processing Trainings.