Some basic stuff you should know.

In the past little while, I’ve been tweaking and rearranging some of the content on this site, and ultimately, i hope to host my entire site here at WordPress, with the blog integrated in. For now, here are some of the new things you might take a look at!

Top Bar

I’ve revised my “Make an Appointment,” “Services,” and “About Kamela” pages somewhat. Go check them out if you want to know more about what I do, who I am, and how to get in touch with me. In time, I’ll be adding sub-pages to the Services section, to give a rounder idea of the types of help I provide.

Side Bar

I’ve added a Recommended Reading list near the top of the sidebar. Right now, this includes the 18 Principles of Rubenfeld Synergy series, the description of a typical first RSM session, and the GROUND series (Gentleness, Respect, Openness, Understanding, Noticing, and Discovery). More foundational posts will end up as pages soon, so that the foundational material is easily accessible by anyone who wants to check it out before coming to see me.

Anything else?

What would you like to see more front-and-center on this site?

Working with Sexuality: The Line-Crosser

Not what’s going on here.

One of the main dangers, of course, of working with sexuality is that some people – in fact, many people – will try to take advantage of you.  There is a tricky line to be walked between being open about the topic – and at times the presence – of sexuality in a healing context; and engaging the client in a sexual experience.  That is: a client may call me or come to me to talk about issues of sexuality, sexual identity, fetishes, or whatever, and in the course of discussion, the client might become aroused.  As I’ve previously written, said arousal can be acknowledged, accepted, and some of the shame and embarrassment thereby lessened for the client.  In other instances, the arousal can even be followed, through exploration of imagery and body sensation, to information about what is troubling the client.  However, it also sometimes happens that a client is looking to engage a therapist or other practitioner in a fantasy scenario, and is inappropriately using the therapeutic context to do so.  Naturally, avoiding this becomes more difficult when you’ve chosen to work with sexuality directly.

I’ve been lucky enough to attract many respectful and kind clients with issues around sexuality who have finally found someone to talk to, and who are on a journey of figuring out who they are and what they want through their bodies.  Some, though, whether because of deep disturbance or just an inflated sense of entitlement or hostility, will attempt to engage my services but then demonstrate that they’re just out to “get off.”

This happens with especial frequency online in chat or on the phone, where, without the body language and other signals that are readily available in person, a prospective client can easily either mistake my sexual openness for a willingness to engage sexually, or take advantage of and abuse it for his own amusement or spite.  It is a sad commentary on how screwed up our culture is about sex that there are people who feel the need to do this, or who are damaged enough that the slightest opening has them jumping in without discussion or consent.

Luckily, with a little practice it becomes fairly easy to recognize these types.  Working intuitively within Rubenfeld Synergy for so long, I’ve grown to trust my body’s signals and can tell pretty quickly when, say, someone is masturbating on the phone, or when, in email, someone is not self-aware enough to be seeking treatment rather than thrills.

Unfortunately, working with sexuality tends to come with this side effect, and figuring out where my boundaries are and holding to them is even more critical than it might be if I chose not to work with this topic.  However, in a way working this openly has an advantage, in that those who might take advantage of any therapeutic situation tend to be revealed more quickly.  After all, issues of transference and counter-transference can often cause unresolved sexual tensions between therapists and clients of all kinds.  Being a healer who works with sexuality means that such issues can be raised and addressed more directly, and generally more quickly.

In a future post, I will talk about boundary-setting in this type of work.

An informal poll: What's the first thing you want to know?

Image

Inquiring turtles want to know

Readers: when you are looking for a therapist, counselor, healing practitioner – basically someone you’re going to work on life, emotional, psychological or other such issues with, what are you looking to see on the first page of their website?

That is, what do you want to know about a practitioner that’s going to make you more likely to contact them for a session?

As I’m reworking my website – which will likely be hosted here at WordPress in the future – I want to have a better sense of what catches people’s eye and makes them see that they may have found the practitioner they want.  So what piece of information, what bit of language, what type of image or feel, what sense that you get makes you press the “Contact Me” button – or, what turns you off and makes you go look elsewhere?

Your comments wanted!

An informal poll: What’s the first thing you want to know?

Image

Inquiring turtles want to know

Readers: when you are looking for a therapist, counselor, healing practitioner – basically someone you’re going to work on life, emotional, psychological or other such issues with, what are you looking to see on the first page of their website?

That is, what do you want to know about a practitioner that’s going to make you more likely to contact them for a session?

As I’m reworking my website – which will likely be hosted here at WordPress in the future – I want to have a better sense of what catches people’s eye and makes them see that they may have found the practitioner they want.  So what piece of information, what bit of language, what type of image or feel, what sense that you get makes you press the “Contact Me” button – or, what turns you off and makes you go look elsewhere?

Your comments wanted!

A great description of a Rubenfeld session

One of the better descriptions I’ve seen of a first and second Rubenfeld Synergy session, performed by veteran Judy Swallow in New York on an experiential journalist who covers holistic health there.

Check it out here in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Trigger warning: non-graphic description of childhood sexual abuse – and a healing from it.

Some highlights:

She asks what’s going on, and I tell her my shoulders feel like a wooden coat hanger, holding up the weight of the world. She asks me to imagine myself at a younger age when I started taking responsibility for everything, and I see myself at 9. She asks what I am wearing, and I see me in a yellow dress. She asks what I would tell Little Linda, and I say I don’t have to be so scared, that I should take chances, that I was going to grow up to be great….

Afterward, she helps me sit up, and I feel a little lightheaded, and light-hearted. She guides me around the room, and I can feel myself walking solidly, my arms hanging freely from my shoulders. It is an amazing feeling, as if I had just received an hour of intensive body work instead of just this light touch and talk….

By using bodily sensations as a metaphor for life experiences, Rubenfeld Synergy Method can dive into long-held emotions, pain and beliefs. Experiencing them in the here and now — not as a static story but as something you can shift — is powerful and liberating.

 

How does a session look? The Classic Sequence

In a typical Rubenfeld Synergy session, particularly a first session, Synergists will often use what’s called the “classic sequence” of moves.  It’s how Ilana tends to move when doing demo sessions with strangers, and it’s how I tend to approach new clients – as well as how I might continue to at least begin sessions unless there is some compelling reason to change it up.

I’d like to spend the next few weeks zeroing in on each body part we touch in order, going into some detail about what each move looks like, why we do it, and why in this order.  I went into it a little bit in an earlier post, but I think it’s a subject that deserves a series of its own.

I’ll lay out the sequence here, and then link to the posts as I make them.  Enjoy!

The Classic Sequence

1. First touch at the head

2. Head roll

3. First touch at the feet

4. Windshield Wiper

5. Metatarsal

6. The Hip Sandwich and Leg Sweep

7. Shoulder cradle and arm sweep

8. Final touch at the head

There are many other moves, which I will go into in future posts.  Stay tuned!

"What can I expect to get from this?"

Moves the Hand

I saw a new client last week, a lovely woman who was really primed for the work.  She was ready to make a change in her life, and hadn’t found psychotherapy to be all that helpful to her.  She was looking for some other way to heal, connect, and shift her life in the right direction.

It’s still amazing to me what clients find when they come to this work, not sure where it’s going to take them, but with a willingness to be open to it.  It’s also always inspiring to see how powerful touch can be.  Once she was on the table and paying attention to her own body, even before I made contact, it wasn’t long at all before she was in touch with herself: with the emotions she had been holding back, with the ways she had been holding herself together with the tension in her shoulders.  Tears flowed, and I made contact with her feet, helping her to feel grounded and safe.

Throughout the rest of the session, she kept being surprised by the power of the touch: how comforting it was to have her knee cradled, and how rare was that feeling; how defensive her body became when I first made contact with her hip; how contact with her hip on the other side, after her body had adjusted, made her feel safe to open and be vulnerable to what she was feeling.  “Do people always get emotional?” she asked at one point, laughing a little.  Not everyone, not every time, to be sure, but it is remarkable the way safe, boundaried touch can help people access their pain and let it flow through.

At the end of the session, she asked the title question – what can I expect to get from this – and I couldn’t help but smile.  It was so clear that she had gotten so much already: a sense of safety, a place where it felt good to be open and vulnerable, an opportunity to be touched – in both senses of that word.

Everyone gets something a little bit different from this work; the process is as individual as the people who seek it out.  But in my experience, everyone gets to feel safe, everyone gets loving, non-sexualized touch, and everyone gets a chance to spend real, focused time on and with themselves, in a holistic way.  These fundamental things about Rubenfeld Synergy Method have more value than can really be properly expressed, and can translate into greater comfort, greater freedom, greater safety and deeper living of life.

 

“What can I expect to get from this?”

Moves the Hand

I saw a new client last week, a lovely woman who was really primed for the work.  She was ready to make a change in her life, and hadn’t found psychotherapy to be all that helpful to her.  She was looking for some other way to heal, connect, and shift her life in the right direction.

It’s still amazing to me what clients find when they come to this work, not sure where it’s going to take them, but with a willingness to be open to it.  It’s also always inspiring to see how powerful touch can be.  Once she was on the table and paying attention to her own body, even before I made contact, it wasn’t long at all before she was in touch with herself: with the emotions she had been holding back, with the ways she had been holding herself together with the tension in her shoulders.  Tears flowed, and I made contact with her feet, helping her to feel grounded and safe.

Throughout the rest of the session, she kept being surprised by the power of the touch: how comforting it was to have her knee cradled, and how rare was that feeling; how defensive her body became when I first made contact with her hip; how contact with her hip on the other side, after her body had adjusted, made her feel safe to open and be vulnerable to what she was feeling.  “Do people always get emotional?” she asked at one point, laughing a little.  Not everyone, not every time, to be sure, but it is remarkable the way safe, boundaried touch can help people access their pain and let it flow through.

At the end of the session, she asked the title question – what can I expect to get from this – and I couldn’t help but smile.  It was so clear that she had gotten so much already: a sense of safety, a place where it felt good to be open and vulnerable, an opportunity to be touched – in both senses of that word.

Everyone gets something a little bit different from this work; the process is as individual as the people who seek it out.  But in my experience, everyone gets to feel safe, everyone gets loving, non-sexualized touch, and everyone gets a chance to spend real, focused time on and with themselves, in a holistic way.  These fundamental things about Rubenfeld Synergy Method have more value than can really be properly expressed, and can translate into greater comfort, greater freedom, greater safety and deeper living of life.

 

[Re-run] How do we do listening touch with someone who can't hear?

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

[Re-run] How do we do listening touch with someone who can’t hear?

Last night, I had the pleasure and challenge of working with a client, Sue*, who is completely deaf.  I will admit, first off, that I don’t have a lot of experience with deaf people; while I’ve long been fascinated by sign language, I haven’t happened to have many interactions with people who are deaf.  Some of this may be due to the intricacies of Deaf culture and my non-membership in said culture; some of it is chance.  But some of it may be that I haven’t taken the time or effort to get to know any deaf people well.

Interacting with Sue made me extremely aware of how much I, as a hearing person, depend on verbal interaction when getting to know someone.  I was admittedly thrown off my center a little when this client first contacted me, by phone: I was speaking to her interpreter, who was a man, and was presenting himself as if he were the client – a woman, with a feminine name.  He was speaking directly for her – saying “I” and “me” – and without benefit of visual cues, I had to adjust to the idea that I was not actually speaking with this man, but with this woman sitting next to him and conversing in sign.  After this came a series of emails in which we discussed how we might set up a session; we finally agreed that bringing an interpreter along would be the best choice.

Once in person (with a different interpreter this time), I had much more available to me in terms of facial expressions, body language, and gestures as I got to know Sue.  I still, however, had to conduct much of my conversation with her while she looked at, and interacted with, her interpreter.  This worked just fine, but created an interesting distance that had to be overcome.

In Synergy sessions, the client lies on a massage table, and often, she will close her eyes.  There is a lot of verbal interaction in addition to the touch, and the client is asked to pay attention to very subtle movement and changes in her body.  Naturally, the verbal back-and-forth that I would normally do in a session was hampered, and we had to find a solution: in this case, the interpreter also stood by the table and translated what we said back and forth.  The session was moderately successful, I thought, and we discovered some lovely insights, but it was interesting how many challenges arose out of this situation, and it made me wonder how Rubenfeld Synergists might devise better ways of working with deaf clients.

For one thing, having to interrupt a client’s relaxing trance state by asking that she open her eyes so she can see what’s being said feels like a constant undermining of the flow of the session.  Sue wanted to have her eyes closed a lot of the time, and when I wanted to say something, her interpreter would touch her shoulder gently.  Sometimes, Sue would spontaneously begin commenting on what she was experiencing, but at other times, she needed prompting, and I found myself reluctant to do so when her eyes were closed.

Another challenge was my realization of how much RSM uses the vocabulary of listening.  Ilana was a musician, after all; her book is called The Listening Hand, and a tremendous amount of the metaphor and language surrounding this work has to do with music.  We also speak a lot about tone, and how tone of voice and tone of the body – e.g. muscle tone – are related.  We talk about parts of the body having a voice, and getting them in dialogue with one another.  The session proceeded relatively smoothly, but I was interested in how many times I found myself running up against language or ideas I would ordinarily use that would have a different meaning – or very little meaning – to someone who cannot hear or speak vocally.

At the same time, I learned some beautiful things.  Watching Sue describe the energies she was feeling moving through her – pulses and goosebumps and spirals – was beautiful, and I was struck by the idea that for people who chiefly speak ASL, the physical experience of language and verbal ideas must be so much more profound and immediate.  I also noticed that her shoulders, while not particularly tense, seemed lifted, as if always in readiness to speak.

My mentor, Joan, also reminded me today that one of the RSM principles is that touch is a viable means of communication.  As I say in that post, “touch…goes straight to the truth of the body, and that makes it perhaps the most powerful communication tool available.”  I am curious to contact this client again, and perhaps have a session with her in which we don’t speak during the table work – unless she feels compelled to say something, which she can then signal or write to me – and we talk about the experience afterwards.  I remember sessions in my training with some of my fellow students fondly: sessions where nothing was said, where we moved through the sequence instinctively and reading each other with only our contact.  The silence of these sessions became sacred; the shifts that happened during them, sublime.  Sue reminds me in some ways to return to simplicity, to the power that touch really has to transform and heal.

I hope, therefore, to work with this client more, this client who left the session feeling vital and filled with movement, feeling the draw to playfulness and bringing more fun into her life.  How much more might I be able to pair her up with those ideas if I allow her to sink into them, silently, continuously, without interruption or the presence of another person in the room?

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.