A psychotherapist articulates a more holistic approach to healing trauma and restoring well-being.
Church (Gestures of the Heart, 2004) argues that only a “unified self” truly experiences well-being and that “whole-person intelligence” is actually based in “a systemic model of heart-mind-body.” Trauma and anxiety are not merely plagues of the mind, but disorders that reside deeply in the body, and so an effective therapeutic response requires more than merely talk therapy—a brain addled with emotional turmoil needs to be physically rewired. The author furnishes a detailed account of what such a comprehensive response looks like, which recruits the aid of “Harmonize Now Tools,” strategies of visualization and somatic gestures designed to restore the brain’s harmony. She explains—with the helpful use of Porter’s (Bobbie the Wonder Dog, 2016, etc.) illustrations—the way in which various self-administered touches and movements as well as intentional visualizations can stimulate the parts of the nervous system and brain hobbled by trauma: “I am interested in the linkage between the brain stem, the limbic system, and cortical knowing. Or, in other words, listening to the body, feeling feelings, and being insightful, and the joy of bringing all three together.” Church’s approach is spiritually infused—there is no shortage of references to “The Divine” and the “Higher Self”—but also pragmatically empirical, insisting on discernible results as a guide to what works and what doesn’t. The book isn’t designed to be a replacement for therapy—in fact, it’s principally addressed to other therapists, though the writing is so lucid it should be accessible to a wide audience. Even Church’s lengthy and detailed discussions of neuroscience and physiology—both captivating and rigorous—are conducted in marvelously clear terms. But occasionally, the author waxes philosophic in a way that goes well beyond the scientifically demonstrable and is confusedly vague: for example, her understanding of the “luminosity” of the divine is more poetic than articulate.
A refreshingly unconventional blend of science and spirituality.