Touch Into Calm

LA and Orange County Body Centered Psychotherapy
Therapy for Stress, Trauma, Depression, Relationship Issues
Adults, Children, and Family

Sarah Brink, CPC, SEP, LA and Orange County Body Centered Psycotherapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner

How I Can Help

As we work together, we will discover ways to experience the following:
  • Relief from the sharp waves of high stress to low energy states 
  • Relaxation through settling into our body via mindfulness practices
  • Increased body awareness skills through body sensing, talk, and therapeutic touch    
  • Development of the skills to become fully present in our everyday life
  • Sense of safety inside ourselves as well as in relationship to others and the outside world  
  • Healing of attachment wounds from the past to experience healthy bonding and more safety and flexibility in relationships
  • Decreased isolation and increased interest in social engagement and appropriate intimacy with others 
  • Healthy communication skills that support ourselves while honoring others
  • Ability to use social boundaries to protect ourselves and also let people in when it’s safe. 
  • Increase in curiosity and wonder about the world
  • Accurate reliance on intuition 
  • Use of healthy anger to release bound fight-flight responses and increase personal vitality
  • More responding and less reacting. 
  • Reduced need for self-medication, as being in our body and in the world become more comfortable.
  • Renegotiation of high stress states 
  • Reset our default stress pattern in the nervous system, to a calmer state, within our window of tolerance 
  • Widen our window of tolerance-increased resilience and capacity to enjoy and tolerate both the pleasant and unpleasant responses to life events 
  • Coherence- True balance and calm within the whole body-mind system 
  • An increased sense of well-being, balance, curiosity and joy 
  • Seeing the best in ourselves and others
  • Clarity of thought 
  • Playfulness  
My practice includes working with individuals of all ages, from children to seniors.  I have a MS in Clinical Psychology as well as a MS in Educational Psychology.  I am a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner certified in the advanced areas of SE Touch Therapy (Touch Skills for Trauma Therapy,  The Resilient Child, Somatic Resilience and Regulation: Early Trauma).  I am also a certified Focusing Trainer/Therapist.  I continue to educate myself to apply cutting edge neuroscience in the most effective treatments for self-regulation, stress/trauma recovery.  I will see couples who are seeking better communication and more happiness either individually or together, as indicated.  I also will see children at first with their parent(s) and then later individually or together, also as indicated.  I also run small groups for children dealing with divorce and many other stressful life experiences.

As a counselor and school psychologist providing psychological services for 30 years, I have much knowledge and experience with psycho-educational assessment, special education and the public school system in general.  In addition to providing parent consultation regarding children in the home,  I also provide school related guidance and psycho-evaluation as needed. My work with children and adolescents makes use of play, art and talk to encourage increased self-expression, resilience, safety, calm, and respectful social engagement.  Children learn to regain a sense of well-being and joy.  Attachment wounds heal through play, relaxation and safety so that enriching, safe relationships develop.  

Body Centered Psychotherapy

A Body Centered Psychotherapeutic approach to well-being focuses on the body and mind as one complex energetic unit, that is constantly communicating internally and with the world around us.  Neuro-scientific research has enabled us to develop strategies used in the therapeutic process to achieve the highest level of health and wellness.  We focus on increasing a person’s sense of coherence (sense of overall balance and alert calm); self-regulation of stress states; increasing the capacity for resilience; and healing early attachment wounds that affect our current relationships.  While talk therapy and psycho-education are part of the work, it is not enough to make long term shifts in stress management, depression, increasing resilience and relationship to self and others.  Somatic Experiencing® is a gentle yet effective psychobiological approach to recovering from the debilitating emotional and physical effects of stress, overwhelm and trauma.  It focuses not only on the memories and meaning held in our conscious brain, but especially addresses the stress patterns we have developed and hold in our nervous system and other subconscious parts of our brain and body. 

We also deal with attachment healing, which is developed at an early age and affects our relationship to ourselves and others, as well as our sense of safety.  The client’s needs help to determine where to begin and our areas of focus.  Skills are drawn from the fields of clinical and educational psychology, Somatic Experiencing, Touch Therapy and Focusing.   A combination of treatment modalities is indicated; for instance, when working on reducing stress and anxiety, it is usually helpful to integrate Therapeutic Touch into the treatment because it deepens the healing and makes the psychotherapy process that much more effective. However, use of safe, clothed Touch Therapy is explained to the client and is ultimately the client’s decision whether to participate.  There are exceptions where it is evident that the client is not ready for Touch practices, and significant healing can still take place.

Somatic Experiencing®

Somatic Experiencing®, (SE™) is a gentle and effective psychobiological treatment that focuses on the mind and body as essential components in healing trauma and stress related conditions.  In observing animal behavior in the wild, it is noted that humans also possess the part of the brain and nervous system that deal with threat and stress.  If being chased by a lion, we execute flight responses; or in other situations, fight or freeze and submit responses.  These responses create and release a lot of energy from our system. In our more ‘civilized’ modern world, we may experience threat such as our parents not being available when we needed them, our boss yelling at us for no good reason, financial, health or relationship threats where we are not able to complete fight, flight, freeze responses or the energy they contain.  The energy then gets bound within us and can become a high stress default system.  In others words, we are always in a high stress state, may have trouble sleeping, be easily irritated or angered, wake up feeling dread but don’t understand why, etc.

Somatic Experiencing, as well as related Touch Therapy facilitate the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy in the body, thus reducing high stress states.  With the release of old stress patterns, the nervous system-brain is able to renegotiate newer, healthier and lower stress default patterns.  This is approached by gently guiding the client to notice what is resourceful or pleasant in their life (and internally) while also developing a larger container for difficult bodily sensations.  Learn more about Somatic Experiencing on my Body Centered Psychotherapy Page

Touch Therapy

Touch Therapy is a form of Somatic Experiencing or Body-Centered Psychotherapy that greatly deepens the process of recovery from stressful and traumatic patterns and events.  Much of our suffering is nonverbal, because it is coming from the parts of the brain and body that are not located in the cortical part of the brain where language and meaning are processed. Additionally, many crucial experiences occurred at a preverbal time in our lives when our brain was still developing.  We may have no explicit memory of painful events, yet the survival response pattern to the pain remains in our brain/nervous system/body.  This is why talk alone is useful to an extent, but we find ourselves reliving the high stress states and repeating patterns of behavior that may have been bound within us at an early age.  Thus, connecting with the individual at the level of touch allows deeper attachment and more direct soothing.  A seemingly simple contact such as the hand held underneath the lower back near the kidney and adrenal organs can greatly reduce the need for the individual to produce stress chemicals and for self-regulation at a nonverbal and sensing level to take place.

Touch more readily facilitates movement and discharge of bound excess energy experienced as accumulated stress; and helps us to complete incomplete threat and survival responses.
SE™ can be done without the Touch Therapy component, and although in some cases that is indicated,  I have found therapeutic touch to be extremely effective for the client who is ready and comfortable with it. In a typical session, there is some grounding and talking work done while sitting, and then we go to a massage table where the rest of the session is done.  Unlike massage, Touch Therapy is done with clothes on, except for shoes and perhaps scarves or large jewelry.  Talking, in the form of what the client and therapist are noticing in the current moment and in bodily sensations may continue at a deeper level.  When movements indicate discharge of energy or completion of survival responses are ready, that activity is facilitated. There is often much relief found in this mode of therapy.  After energy moves within or out of the body, renegotiation and reorganization take place as the body settles in a relaxed or coherent state.  One of the main goals of SE based Touch Therapy, like Somatic Experiencing, is to achieve greater containment of activating emotions and energy as well as to achieve coherence.  Coherence could be simply be defined as when all parts of the body and emotions are in balance.  Typically it is experienced as a state of relaxed alertness or calm aliveness. Bliss and joy are frequently experienced as well.
Focusing Training
Focusing skills are used in tandem with other body centered approaches. Focusing practices also stand alone as a healthy way to improve relationship to self and others, through safe communication and self-exploration of the felt sense, emotions and meaning.  It is a wonderful set of tools for couples, friends, interested participants, and even co-workers to use to improve relationship, communication and expand and move meaning forward in a positive way. 

I provide focusing training as a way to promote healthy and deepening relation to self and others.  One aspect is that each person in a dyad takes a turn “holding a space” for the other, and practices nonjudgmental reflective listening skills; while the other explores their inner world and felt sense for a specified period of time.  Then the roles are switched. When the structured practices of Focusing are followed, positive shifts take place, self-awareness, intimacy and respect deepen.  Similar to SE, turning our attention inward allows us to center our focus on the present and on our body's inner sensations, integrating mind, body and spirit. Learning and practicing “holding a space” for another is a deeply rewarding experience.
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