The Whole View, Season 3, Episode 83: Role of Physical Touch in Mental & Physical Wellness w/ Maira Holzmann

Welcome somatic therapist Maira Holzmann to The Whole View! Stacy and Maira discuss the toll trauma has on the nervous system, how healthy touch can create safety and connection, and how to heal the body and the mind.

Find Maira:

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Key Takeaways 

Introductions

  • Maira is the owner and founder at Somatic Therapy Partners and a body-oriented somatic therapist specializing in helping people rebuild after adverse early childhood experiences. Her lived experience as a child of immigrant parents from the Philippines started her on her healing journey from early trauma.
  • She completed her undergrad in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1993 and Masters of Science in Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. Furthermore, she’s been licensed clinical Social Worker (LCSW)  in Colorado since 2006. She is also a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP), and Coregulating Touch Practitioner (CRT-P).
  • Prior to this professional career, Maira spent ten years both travelling around the world and teaching mountaineering courses for Outward Bound schools in Colorado, South Africa and California.

Role of Physical Touch in Mental & Physical Wellness

  • When someone struggles with the affects of early trauma, the way the nervous system develops is sub-optimal, so there was not an early experience of safety, so there is nothing to get back to.
  • Maira strongly believes that the mind and body are one. Furthermore, research shows that including the body in the therapeutic process leads to more beneficial outcomes.
  • So when people don’t work on their repressed emotional content, or they have learned how to either dissociate from it or the brain simply forgets it, and all those repressed emotions turn into patterns in the body, which leads to more and more disfunction over time, which leads to disease.
  • Some modalities Maira and her colleagues use in their practice include: Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Co-Regulating Touch, and Reiki & Yogic Healing.
  • So as you’ll find below, the research demonstrating the need for human touch is vast. From a developmental standpoint, infants literally cannot survive without human touch. Skin-to-skin contact in even in the first hour after birth has been shown to help regulate newborns’ temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and decreases crying (Ferber, Feldman, & Makhoul, 2008). [source]
  • Furthermore, physical touch has been shown to have a direct impact on our nervous system, helping to reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation. When we engage in physical touch, such as hugging or cuddling, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that helps to regulate our stress response and promotes feelings of well-being. [source]

Next Steps

  • Being pathologically independent is often a symptom of early trauma.
  • So if you think somatic and related therapies could be for you, Maira suggests starting with a couple questions:
    • What’s your relationship to yourself and how do you react to someone wanting to help you?
    • Take a look at your physical functioning. Do you get sick a lot and have a lot of allergies?
  • Somatic Therapy Partners has some free resources like a blog, worksheets and free workshops for those in the Denver area.

Studies, References & Products

Sponsors

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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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