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1ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE INTEGRATING TRAUMA SENSITIVE YOGA INTO PSYCHOTHERAPY: by: Joann Lutz
A group of mental health professionals who integrate yoga into their work and yoga teachers with a specialty in trauma sensitivity, came together in Wellfleet, Ma. in October, 2016, to share their models and methods in the First National Conference on Integrating Trauma-Sensitive Yoga into Psychotherapy.
This was a presenter’s conference, which means that each participant was invited to give a workshop and/or teach a yoga class, which contributed to a feeling of personal empowerment and to the formation of a peer bond.
The participants included the chair of a university social work department; the founder of a non-profit, peer-run yoga-based rehabilitation organization; a doctor of Tibetan medicine and ayurveda; employees of a major HMO, of a hospital-based EAP, and of a publicly-funded community mental health organization; and several psychotherapists in private practice. Traditions represented include Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy (from the California College of Ayurveda), Integral Yoga, Sivananda Yoga and The Himalayan Institute.Newly-developed practice models were presented, including 7 Seeds Yoga, a non-profit, peer-run collaborative of health professionals who have developed unique, chakra-based yoga instruction, primarily to recovering substance abusers; and Nervous-System Informed, Trauma Sensitive Yoga (NITYA), a model which integrates Integral Yoga, Ayurveda Yoga Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, and Neuroscience Research. There was another presentation focused more directly on integrating Somatic Experiencing with yoga in a residential eating disorders program.
Participants were stimulated by the presentation on expanded practice models; on the effectiveness of somatic models of psychotherapy, now entering the mainstream of mental health services, of which yoga is one; and by the peer support of other yogis, which has been largely missing in their professional milieu.
Presenters requested feedback on their models, and by the end of the conference we all felt that we had filled in some of the gaps in our individual experience and training.
Over the course of the conference we developed a group mission. Since a number of individuals expressed interest in attending this conference who are not yet trained in one of these integrative models, the attendees agreed that the next priority would be the planning of a larger conference which offers training opportunities. Individuals and organizations who would like to assist in the planning process are welcome to contact me. There was also discussion of creating a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Therapy Training Program, accredited by the IAYT.