"When I came to Charna I wanted to change certain aspects of my life -what she gave me instead was the capacity to continue expanding my whole life in ways that made those initial changes seem like baby steps!"

—Dancer, age 35

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My Story:How I became a Body-Centered Psychotherapist

My own experiences of trauma were a doorway.

Charna Cassell, MFTI

I chronically suffered with physical ailments throughout childhood until my mid-20’s. Child sexual abuse left me without boundaries and unwilling to be vulnerable with partners. Sex and intimacy could not coexist without me feeling turned off, terrified and overwhelmed. Unexpressed feelings and frozen actions manifested in my physical body. As a result, I became curious about the mind and body connection. Despite 10 years of talk therapy and insight gained about my family dynamics, by the time I was 24, my nervous system was still anxiously reacting like I was in danger in intimate situations. I intellectually knew I wanted to be in a loving relationship, but I didn’t know HOW to do it.

I learned new skills and transformed my life.

Somatic work taught me that by putting my body into new practices I could learn new skills. I didn’t have to be hopeless or resigned. By bringing more awareness to automatic responses I could slow down enough to choose how I react. Through mindfulness, bodywork and meditation, I began to make peace with my body and let go of the belief that it was a site for pain to exist.

Creativity was a path towards healing myself and educating my community.

Writing creative nonfiction and monologues was another avenue for healing. Somatic work helped me feel confident and grounded enough to perform an autobiographical one-woman shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Every time I performed my show, audience members shared that they felt hopeful that they could heal too. They said the show changed how they experienced their bodies.

Today I feel safe in my body and in intimate relationships.

I discovered the joy of living in my body as a physical, emotional and spiritual being. I learned to ask for what I need, say “no” to things I don’t want and say “yes” to receiving love. I learned to trust men, forgive myself and those who allowed the abuse to happen, and transformed my relationship to my family. Most importantly, I realized I was not inherently anxious or bad. The anxiety was an effect of the trauma, not a characteristic of who I essentially am. I thawed out my nervous system and these shameful beliefs.

If the tools for healing were this effective how could I not offer them to others?

After experiencing such positive changes, I pursued becoming a body-centered psychotherapist with committed ease and excitement. Being of service and sharing my resources is something I’ve always naturally done. I combine my training in the principles of aikido, energy work, meditation and coaching, with somatic psychotherapy to encourage change on all levels.

When we heal ourselves, we reach far and wide.

Over the past 15+ years, I worked in a variety of schools and nonprofits as a teacher, trainer, counselor and workshop leader. I hold the vision of loving, embodied families that know how to communicate with care. When you change, the people around you are affected. It is an honor to facilitate your unwinding and help you embrace your life.