by Stacey Prince
It is a rare and beautiful thing when you attend a CE conference and everything comes together: professional learning, personal relevance, and interpersonal connection all rolled into one. Such was the case for me last Monday, April 26 when I attended the Generative Somatics workshop facilitated by Staci Haines. The workshop felt so relevant to our work in TJP, my own work as a therapist and activist, and was emotionally and interpersonally powerful as well. While this will not be an exhaustive review of the material, I hope to share an overview and some personal impressions here, and invite other attendees to do the same.
Staci Haines co-facilitated this event with Vassilisa Johri; both live in San Francisco and are deeply involved in healing and activist work. The event was co-sponsored by TJP and was skillfully organized by TJP members Nathan Shara and Briana Herman-Brand. About 70 advocates, activists, body workers, social workers and psychotherapists attended. Staci Haines founded this approach to treating trauma in part because she felt (and research supports) that talk therapy alone often does not sufficiently impact the long-term emotional, physiological, and cognitive impacts of trauma. “Memory lives in the muscle” says Richard Strozzi-Heckler, PhD, founder of the Strozzi Institute (a forerunner of Generative Somatics), and this is one of the core principles of Generative Somatics. Since memory lives in the body, uncovering and recovering from memory must also be rooted in the body. Generative Somatics therefore focuses on the soma, the living organism in its wholeness. But Haines emphasizes that while body-centered approaches such as mindfulness meditation are becoming popularized in mainstream psychology, just because the body is mentioned does not mean that a particular approach is somatics. Body awareness is just one component, along with somatic opening and somatic practices, and all within a social context, that comprise Generative Somatics. I will talk about what each of these means later on.
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