Charna Cassell, LMFT

Center for Passionate Living

Unwind The Essence of Who You Are

My Story

How I Became a Body-Centered Psychotherapist

My own experiences of trauma were a doorway.


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 25+ 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.

  • Graduate of the Safe Embrace Trauma Healing program’s training of trainers
  • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • M.A. in Counseling Psychology from CIIS
  • Advanced Somatics and Trauma graduate in Generative Somatics.
  • Certified Master Somatic Coach from the Strozzi Institute
  • Affiliations
  • Member of California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Strozzi Institute Associate
  • Experience
  • International Trauma and Resilience educator via the Global Gratitude Alliance’s SETH program
  • 25+ years counseling couples, adults and youth
  • Co-leader of Stepping Stones girl’s group
  • Counselor at Holden High school
  • Leader of body wisdom workshop at Julia Morgan
  • Trained as a Generation Five community leader
  • Guest lecturer in Human Sexuality class at Marin City college
  • Extensive training and experience in sexuality education
  • Taught and counseled at Wellesley College summer program for Teens
  • Testimonials
    Contact Me

    Charna Cassell, LMFT

    Center for Passionate Living

    7214 Sunkist Dr

    Oakland, CA 94605

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    © 2020 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. 

    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.