Darlene Egelhoff
(970) 209-9086
503 6th St, Suite 5, Crested Butte 81224

Somatic Therapy

The most critical element of effective therapy is forming a comfortable, trusting relationship. I offer a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation so that we can begin to get to know each other and assess if this is a good fit for you or your loved one. I offer one-hour sessions for $125 as well as longer, prorated sessions for intensive therapy. I accept Medicaid and Employee Assistant programs from Gunnison County and Vail. Scholarships may be available to those in need. Ascent Counseling is not an in-network provider for other insurance companies. However, please check with your insurance company to see if they will reimburse for out of network providers. Ascent Counseling can provide a Super Bill with pertinent information including CPT codes and NPI for your insurance company.

Somatic therapy is a holistic approach that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit connection. The use of body-centered psychotherapy has become an important part of an integrated approach to the treatment of autonomic nervous system dysregulation associated with trauma, posttraumatic stress, sexual abuse, anxiety, depression, addictions, grief, and many other issues. Somatic therapy combines traditional talk therapy with grounding and mindfulness techniques designed to help us get out of our minds and connect to our bodies. During a session, I help clients focus on their concerns and pay attention to any physical experiences that happen once these concerns are brought to the surface. At this point, different techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, mindfulness and imagery may be used to help relieve any symptoms felt in the moment. By working with a client over several sessions, the client begins to develop a mind-body connection and is able to release long-held anger, tension, frustration and other negative emotions that may have gotten stuck in the physical body. The overall goal of a somatic therapist is to help their clients transform the mental, emotional and potentially physical pain that is preventing them from fully engaging with their life into health and wellness.

Founder and creator of somatic experiencing Peter Levine states when we perceive threat our bodies act to protect us, stiffening, retracting, fight or flight, freeze or collapse. These emergency reactions are meant to be temporary. However with trauma our brains become stuck. We become reactive, our necks and shoulders stiffen, our stomachs become nauseous or in knots, our breathing shortens and quickens, our heart rate increases, or alternatively we collapse into helplessness. Our body does this immediately and instinctively to protect us from immediate threat. When these symptoms become chronic we develop debilitating symptoms of trauma whereby our bodies continue to signal to our brain we’re in danger and we perceive threat where it doesn’t exist. Until we can change the internal state of our body we will remain traumatized. We can’t be talked out of the fight/flight/freeze response, talking has no affect on those survival systems when hijacked, as they are deep in the brain. When a predator catches an animal it collapses as a survival mechanism in hopes predator will lose interest. When it’s safe it jumps up and shakes off energy fully sequencing trauma. Unprocessed trauma in the form of fear and immobility keep us in the trauma response and reactive or shutdown. The key to coming out of it is to uncouple fear from immobility and discharge the trapped energy guided by the therapist to come out of immobility and into arousal, mobilization for fight or flight, which we can work with. We may feel an impulse to move our body, to sequence the trauma feeling the response from the inside and complete it in a way that feels, successful, pleasurable, and empowering. As a somatic practitioner I work with a lot of different interventions and modalities, everything I do is looking through the lens of a holistic perspective of our being. Our body, mind, and spirit are inextricably connected. We live in a body and everything we experience is in our body. Sometimes we understand why we do some things and where those behaviors originated in our life, but often that cognitive awareness alone doesn’t help us to feel any better about it. Our body is a tool that has a lot of wisdom that we can tap into for information, greater discernment, intuition, clarity, and understanding and greater self-trust. We’ve been taught to not pay attention to it. There’s often a part of our body that may not want to feel because it was scary at one point. But if we don’t feel what’s challenging we also won’t feel what’s good. We need to feel resourced to feel better and learn to tolerate painful sensations so that old stress and trauma can process and move through which will allow one’s own self-trust and capacity to heal. Every impulse we have whether its emotional, physical, sensations, has wisdom and a trajectory. When it gets to move through us there is health, relief, and fluid functioning. When we stop that consciously or unconsciously we start to have challenges physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Doing this work and incorporating our body is about coming home to our inner wisdom and to ourselves, developing a relationship with ourselves, and learning to trust that our bodies know what to do. For many of us our body hasn’t been a safe place to be. We want to shift that in a way that feels tolerable and safe. We hold our pain in our body, mostly unconsciously. When we tap into the wisdom of the body we can support the movement, shifting, the processing, and letting go. This can look many different ways in therapy from me asking clients what they’re noticing in their body such as physical sensations or energy, to taking a deep breath when an emotion comes, or asking if they wanna to stretch, or I might notice their body getting tight and ask them if they want to move a little, or have them stand up and try something. Clients will always have choice and I encourage them to ask as many questions throughout the process to help them understand, have clarity, and choice. I also share my reasons for doing exercises or movements so that nothing is a secret or mysterious. If at any moment clients have any questions about what we’re doing they are always encouraged to ask. This is their life, their body, their process, and healing journey.