From research scientist to trauma-sensitive yoga facilitator, educator, and speaker.
I want to make sure the people I work with experience the most effective mind-body practices.
Currently there is a growing shift towards using mind-body practices like yoga as a complementary and alternative medicine, I work in this space- offering and discussing evidence-based somatic practices to support mental health.
I have worked with clients that have experienced stress, anxiety, complex trauma, c-PTSD, PTSD, and eating disorders. I also work with community organisations and Queensland Health in programs that support adults and youth experiencing complex mental illness, complex trauma, and alcohol and other drug rehabilitation. I've also been invited to speak on topics associated with resilience and the mind-body connection.
I have a general interest in mind-body (i.e., interoceptive) therapies and somatic symptoms that occur alongside mental health disorders. I create online content on topics including body-based theories of emotion, the mind-body connection, body awareness and resilience, and the impact of emotional trauma on the mind and body.
Kathie (PhD, Psychology) has over 13 years of academic research experience. During that time she published research and lectured on topics on a range of psychology and neuroscience topics including emotional memory, personality psychology, biological psychology, behavioural and systems neuroscience, cognition, and molecular biology.
She has held research positions in New Zealand (University of Canterbury, and Otago), The USA (Yale University), and in Australia (The Queensland Brain Institute); as well as lecturing positions in New Zealand (The University of Canterbury, and Otago) and the USA (Qunnipiac University).
The Transition to Yoga
After working in academia for over 13 years and practicing yoga since 2008, I wanted to make a career shift that would be more aligned with my core passions- psychology and yoga. Being interested in the transformational effects of yoga, I was following research on how beneficial yoga practices can be for mental health and well-being. As the field was growing, I knew this was the space I wanted to be working in.
Teaching yoga since 2016, Kathie has over 700 hr of yoga teacher training, and transitioned to teaching yoga full-time in 2018. Being trained as a research scientist, means that she is drawn towards methods that have an evidence-base for facilitating the effectiveness of yoga.
She is also a certified Trauma Sensitive Yoga Facilitator (2018), trained and supervised by the Center for Trauma and Embodiment at the Justice Research Institute (MA, USA).
Recommended Books and Resources
A selection of books and resources focused around mind-body integration in psychology and body-based therapy for mental health.
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In this work the neuroscientist Damasio makes a case for the importance of body-based feelings in guiding unconscious behaviour, for the generation of consciousness, and the experience of the self. He goes into detail about how the body and brain interact during these processes and the role of homeostasis (i.e., finding a state of balance) at a physical, social, and cultural level.
In the first section of this book the focus is on yoga as a spiritual practice and psychology as depth psychology / psychoanalysis. In later sections the focus shifts towards current research on somatic psychology, trauma, and trauma-sensitive yoga. In the final section, Maria offers practical exercises based on Somatic Experiencing (developed by Peter Levine) that could be used to facilitate felt body sense (i.e., interoception) in a personal or taught yoga practice.
I often use these cards when working with youths with complex mental illness, I've found them helpful for engagement. Different types of yoga forms are colour coded (e.g., back-bends are orange, forward folds are green), I offer the opportunity to pick shapes form different colour sections based on what they would like to explore on the day. The deck also comes with a small booklet that suggest other ways to use the cards and information about trauma-sensitive yoga with children and young adults.