Meet Our Program Providers
Providers are specialists who come into our space to teach their unique healing modalities to participants. Our goal is to bring a variety of providers into our space, including but not limited to; clinicians, certified specialists, and other members of the community who resonate with our mission, to share different forms of innovative healing with survivors.
Can you describe a past workshop you've led for Thriving, Not Just Surviving?
The workshops I have led introduce embodiment skills as a means of gaining self-awareness, control, and safety. Using my four boundaries model: mental, physical, environmental, and energetic, I introduce skills on an intrapersonal level (occurring within the individual self) by guiding participants to have a physical experience of a what a boundary is.
I ask participants to use a piece of yarn in a large circle around them on the ground to represent the “energetic boundary”. The simple act of standing in a circle can have a variety of effects, but the idea is that participants immediately begin to notice their body and their capacity to use their body as an instrument. Many people feel a sense of safety or calm, but some feel trapped or can even feel nothing at all. There is no “right way” to experience the energetic boundary, but usually after some experimenting, such as moving to the front or the back of their circle, participants find they have a preference within their circle that feels best. We can even imagine the circle is made of different materials. Depending on the person, a permeable boundary, such as a thin white veil may suffice, but for others, a thick clay wall feels safest. This model is a great tool for meditating and minimizing what is allowed in our mental and physical world, and it can serve as a protective barrier when transitioning into the world or finding ways to interact with others when we feel overwhelmed.
When I do a second session in the workshop, I often use the energetic boundary on a more interpersonal level, examining what our boundaries feel like and how our boundaries change when we interact with others. This further develops our capacity to make choices in how we relate to others so that we might stay embodied as we navigate our day.
What sort of work you do and why it's important to you?
I have a private practice, and I also work part-time at Acacia Counseling and Wellness in Isla Vista, doing both individual and group work. I was trained as a Somatic Psychotherapist which means that my work is focused on the intelligence of the body. The intelligence of the body is sometimes separate from our consciousness, and so fine-tuning our awareness of what our body is perceiving and how it reacts in situations is key to gaining a sense of confidence and agency.
I have facilitated an embodiment skills group at Acacia, and I will also be opening in-person group work in Santa Barbara, focused on my Embodied Community Movement (ECM) project, which interweaves psychoeducation with therapeutic movement and experiential exercises. The ECM will be a platform for my own somatic boundary work but will also highlight other community members who offer somatic-based therapy and education.
Eventually, I hope to build a larger ECM program in Isla Vista, whether through Acacia or my own private practice, that would be a drop-in, donation-based program. ECM would integrate these embodiment skills with music and movement and provide a safe and sober environment for exploring contact, boundaries, and consent.
What is one highlight from your time working with Thriving? What keeps you coming back to the space?
Participants have used and interpreted the boundary work in such a variety of ways to meet their own needs, it felt important to keep sharing with others. Every time I do the Thriving Initiative workshop, I learn new ways that this work helps others and just how flexible the model can be. My most impactful workshop has to be this last Spring when we had over 40 people on Zoom, and I had to just fly by the seat of my pants to keep up with all the feedback and chat messages. There was so much enthusiasm, and at the end of it, I was literally vibrating with feelings of upliftment and hope.
What do you think makes The Thriving Initiative unique?
I first heard about the Thriving Initiate through Lauren Roberts, who was developing it as a passion project and part of completing her degree at UCSB. I don’t think they had the “passion project” program when I was a student at UCSB decades ago, but the name says it all. When she told me what she wanted to do I was hooked and became just as passionate about participating. I am so proud of what the Thriving Initiative has become, and the fact that it has continued to grow shows how important this project has been to our community. We need safe spaces where we can be witnessed in our vulnerability and have shared experiences of growth. Lauren and all the facilitators should really be recognized for their outstanding work. I am so honored to be a part of it.
What kind of precautions do you take to create a safe space in your workshop?
I think the Thriving Initiative has set up some good guidelines and group rules that keep the space as safe as possible. Their check-ins before the workshops begin and the debriefing afterward provide a great predictable structure. I am always learning what helps participants to feel safe, but ultimately it is the safety of these structures that will help participants navigate their triggers. Somatic work can be very intense, so giving options and permission not to participate and just be a witness still allows participants to learn from the workshop.