If it’s one thing we are proud of here at Lumos Transforms, it is our amazing, diverse staff. Our clinical staff brings a variety of certifications, trainings, and experience into their practices. Each facilitator has a unique set of skills and gifts that extend beyond The Resilience Toolkit.
We’re giving you a more in-depth look at what some of our clinical staff is up to by featuring a series of Q&A blog posts showcasing some of their recent endeavors. Today we’re talking with Colleen Crosby and her recent certification as a NeuroAffective Touch™ Practitioner.
Q: Hi Colleen! Can you explain exactly what NeuroAffective Touch™ is?
A: NeuroAffective Touch™ (NATouch) is a psychobiological touch method for therapists and bodyworkers that integrates key elements of developmental theory, relational psychotherapy, and somatic psychology. I’d call NATouch a hybrid of talk therapy and therapeutic touch for healing developmental trauma. It was created by Aline LaPierre, PsyD, MFT, SEP. This work is more bottom-up, helping an individual through an exploration of their physical sensation to begin to recognize where physical, emotional and mental trauma resides in the body. It’s through this skilled touch and invitational language that we can help unlock our body’s struggles to love and be loved. I recently completed the 5 module training program, a total of 85 hours of training, and am now certified as a NATouch Practitioner.
Q: What inspired you to pursue training in NATouch?
A: Because of my background in massage therapy, I already knew that touch can help individuals with that missing piece when it comes to healing a number of health and emotional concerns. Through my training and experience as a TRE (Tension Release Exercises) practitioner and now as a facilitator of The Resilience Toolkit, I know that stress and trauma are often underlying causes of some of the struggles people experience. I intuitively understood that modalities that have an element of therapeutic touch can help support emotional growth. With developmental trauma, the emotional shock to the heart is experienced early in life, sometimes before language is fully developed. So NATouch was a natural progression of my desire to deepen my understanding and ability when it comes to helping people heal things that might lie outside the realm of what can be addressed in talk therapy.
Q: Could you say a little bit more about developmental trauma? I think when people hear that they may be affected by things that happened before they can remember or speak, it can feel a little scary.
A: There are a variety of things that can contribute to disconnection of the mind and body. Developmental trauma isn’t always tied to big events, though those can have an effect on development. Developmental trauma can be caused by lack of touch, emotional neglect, early judgment, and other things that disrupt attachment. The good news is that we can bring the body into dialogue and start addressing core relational wounds without having to even know what they are or create stories around them. We use language in sessions, but it is usually to discuss what is happening right now vs. in the past. NATouch creates a bridge between psychotherapy and bodywork in a very safe, gentle manner.
NeuroAffective Touch™ (NATouch™) is a psychobiological approach that integrates key elements of somatic psychology, psychodynamic and relational psychotherapy, developmental theory, and energy psychology. By highlighting the primary importance of the body and emphasizing its equality with the mind, NATouch addresses how to work with early attachment deficits and life-long relational and family trauma that cannot be reached by verbal means alone. This professional training introduces participants to a body-inclusive psychotherapy that uses touch as a central, vital psychological and physiological intervention.
Q: How does someone know if they might benefit from NATouch?
A: Working with me may be a good idea for someone who is ready to look at their situation through a different lens. My clients have been in therapy and seeking other ways of addressing problematic symptoms for a long time. For many of them, language began to feel like it wasn’t enough; often telling me things like, “I’m so tired of telling this story.” In my sessions, they approach this “story” through a different modality — a somatic experience. Historically, speaking has often been difficult for me as well, so that was something I really wanted to break through with my clients. Talking about “my stuff” wasn’t helping me anymore and I felt shut down when I tried to express myself. That’s what brought me to this idea; there are constrictions around certain areas of the body and talking alone can’t always help us connect to them.
Q: So what does an individual session with you look like?
A: Unlike traditional Swedish massage a client leaves their clothes on. Typically we work on a massage table starting face up, and as the therapist, I begin assessing what their physical needs might be and invite them to help me create a foundation of support by using bolsters, heated bean bag pillows, and other props. A lot of it is intuitive, but often we begin at the base of the head with gentle holding, sitting for a moment, letting someone drop in and begin connecting and noticing what comes up physically, emotionally, or mentally for them. From there we begin a gentle dialogue around the positive connections they’re aware of and also any body-mind disconnect that might surface. With NATouch I’m using this back and forth dialogue around sensation and adjusting my touch to help meet a client’s attachment needs without creating dependency. This supports their experience of safety and connection to self. So much of early developmental trauma is centered around the little shocks to the heart that slowly diminishes the spark within us. Knowledgeable therapeutic touch can heal the vigilance, defensiveness, or high arousal caused by chronic tension or trauma. We’re working to rekindle an aliveness and connection to self.
Q: Do you combine The Resilience Toolkit with NATouch?
A: The Toolkit helps people connect themselves to a sense of calm within the body. For some who are very activated or in a state of high arousal, calming down without therapeutic touch can be difficult. I use NATouch to assist these people in dropping into a state of relaxation, which can give them a rare sensory experience of calm. Then they can begin to build on this as their new baseline from which to practice The Toolkit. There are also some people who might be resistant to using or unable to reach for tools on their own. With NATouch, I can help someone feel calm and safe enough to start reaching for some of the practices in The Toolkit either while they’re with me on the table or once they’re on their own out in the world.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about NATouch?
A: I appreciate how this work approaches the body and mind as members of a couple. So often the mind separates itself from the body and positions itself as all-knowing. Our minds can be very judgemental and this can make it difficult for the body to show up. Instead of judgment, this work makes room for curiosity to develop and teaches us how to listen with respect to two parts of a whole. It’s wonderful when an individual makes an emotional connection to their body. You can see an awakening, like, “Oh! That’s why I’ve had difficulty expressing my needs.” I’m helping them build a bridge between their sensory experience and their cognitive adult awareness. This is one modality that gives the body the opportunity to speak. A judged body is afraid to show up. This is a space that allows the flow of information from the body in a non-judgemental space.