Born in Germany, of Spanish and German parents, I have lived in Australia, Germany, England, Indonesia and now live in California in the US. My multi-cultural upbringing being raised as a “foreigner kid” in Germany gave me a unique perspective on what it means to live in dominant cultures and the effects of intergenerational trauma.
My work today always contains this cross-cultural lens—critical now more than ever for the diversity issues our world is ready to address.
One of the questions I’m often asked is “How did I create a career that combines trauma, somatics, and mindfulness?”
I always gravitated to places where I could find the answers to questions few others were asking. My education at Naropa University and California Institute of Integral Studies gave me a foundation of dharma and psychology, and a close working relationship with an introduction to pioneers in the field of Somatic Psychotherapy.
My early career led me to working with refugees from Latin America and South East Asia, many of whom were survivors of political torture. I quickly realized that trauma memories store in the body, and that while talking is important, I knew that more was needed to heal trauma.
My early meditation and movement training had shown me how the body is able to safely release deeply held patterns. So I began to weave in mindfulness and somatic movement techniques to help the refugee torture victims.
Now, many people associate mindfulness with relaxation, but my definition means getting exquisitely present to what’s going in the body while applying precise practices to restore the nervous system.
I discovered that these practical tools were universally useful. Whether working with firefighters who suffer from PTSD, or C-suite executives who want to become more compassionate leaders, when we are able to get quiet, we are able to calm the nervous system and get the answers we seek.
All of us have experienced trauma or stress. Stress is even helpful in manageable doses. But none of us can sustain chronic stress or trauma from natural disasters, deaths, accidents. Eventually, mental and overall health declines.
I believe the antidote is within us.
Over time, my work as a licensed clinical somatic psychologist evolved, and I developed “Dharma of Trauma” a somatic trauma training for professionals. I also co-founded the Hakomi Institute of California.
Hakomi draws from an enormous range of influences—Buddhism and Taoism, physics, body-centered therapies such as Gestalt, Reichian work, the Feldenkrais Method, Bioenergetics, Focusing, NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, and General Systems Theory.
I’m honored to have been a faculty member at different universities including John F. Kennedy University, CIIS, and Sofia/ITP. I’ve developed a unique curriculum that combines somatic psychology, trauma therapy, clinical skills, family systems, movement, and mindfulness.
As a Trauma Consultant and speaker, I’ve trained hundreds of mental health professionals in China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Silicon Valley, Germany, Columbia, Israel, and more. Some of my students are now principal researchers in MAPS (FDA-regulated psychedelic clinical research). Many have become thought leaders and change-makers in the field.
I’m also a proud Board Member of Lalafofofo (means sleeping peacefully), helping Masaii girls and women in Tanzania who have suffered Female Genital Mutilation.
At my core, I like to inspire healing and new choices. Call it psychology, ancient wisdom, consciousness work, or neuroscience—when we learn how to come back from stress and trauma, we impact the world in a positive way.
My question for you:
What is the contribution you want to make to the world?
Whether you are an entrepreneur who wants to build a company that becomes the gold standard for a humanitarian workplace…
Or if your organization is on a mission to train a fleet of leaders, helpers, and healers…
I’m here to offer simple tools that allow all of us to tap into our innate wisdom and change the world.