© 2018 By Charna Cassell, MFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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Center for Passionate Living 

Unwind The Essence
of Who You Are

My Story:
How I Became A Body-Centered Psychotherapist

My own experiences of trauma were a doorway.

I chronically suffered with physical ailments throughout childhood until my mid-20’s. Child sexual abuse left me without boundaries and unwilling to be vulnerable with partners. Sex and intimacy could not coexist without me feeling turned off, terrified and overwhelmed. Unexpressed feelings and frozen actions manifested in my physical body. As a result, I became curious about the mind and body connection. Despite 10 years of talk therapy and insight gained about my family dynamics, by the time I was 24, my nervous system was still anxiously reacting like I was in danger in intimate situations. I intellectually knew I wanted to be in a loving relationship, but I didn’t know HOW to do it.

I learned new skills and transformed my life.

Somatic work taught me that by putting my body into new practices I could learn new skills. I didn’t have to be hopeless or resigned. By bringing more awareness to automatic responses I could slow down enough to choose how I react. Through mindfulness, bodywork and meditation, I began to make peace with my body and let go of the belief that it was a site for pain to exist.

Creativity was a path towards healing myself and educating my community.

Writing creative nonfiction and monologues was another avenue for healing. Somatic work helped me feel confident and grounded enough to perform an autobiographical one-woman shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Every time I performed my show, audience members shared that they felt hopeful that they could heal too. They said the show changed how they experienced their bodies.

Today I feel safe in my body and in intimate relationships.

I discovered the joy of living in my body as a physical, emotional and spiritual being. I learned to ask for what I need, say “no” to things I don’t want and say “yes” to receiving love. I learned to trust men, forgive myself and those who allowed the abuse to happen, and transformed my relationship to my family. Most importantly, I realized I was not inherently anxious or bad. The anxiety was an effect of the trauma, not a characteristic of who I essentially am. I thawed out my nervous system and these shameful beliefs.

If the tools for healing were this effective how could I not offer them to others?

After experiencing such positive changes, I pursued becoming a body-centered psychotherapist with committed ease and excitement. Being of service and sharing my resources is something I’ve always naturally done. I combine my training in the principles of aikido, energy work, meditation and coaching, with somatic psychotherapy to encourage change on all levels.

When we heal ourselves, we reach far and wide.

Over the past 25+ years, I worked in a variety of schools and nonprofits as a teacher, trainer, counselor and workshop leader. I hold the vision of loving, embodied families that know how to communicate with care. When you change, the people around you are affected. It is an honor to facilitate your unwinding and help you embrace your life.

Credentials
  • Graduate of the Safe Embrace Trauma Healing program’s training of trainers

  • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with Board of Behavioral Sciences

  • M.A. in Counseling Psychology from CIIS

  • Advanced Somatics and Trauma graduate in Generative Somatics.

  • Certified Master Somatic Coach from the Strozzi Institute

Affiliations
  • Member of California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists

  • Strozzi Institute Associate

Experience
  • International Trauma and Resilience educator via the Global Gratitude Alliance’s SETH program

  • 25+ years counseling couples, adults and youth

  • Co-leader of Stepping Stones girl’s group

  • Counselor at Holden High school

  • Leader of body wisdom workshop at Julia Morgan

  • Trained as a Generation Five community leader

  • Guest lecturer in Human Sexuality class at Marin City college

  • Extensive training and experience in sexuality education

  • Taught and counseled at Wellesley College summer program for Teens

Testimonials

“When I started seeing Charna I had a list of health issues and I was contemplating divorce.  I had been living under a veil of anxiety and fear and felt extremely stuck in all aspects of my life. She helped me create the courage and space within myself to uncover and work through my childhood sexual trauma, and ultimately save my marriage.Charna was always energetic, inspiring and warm.  She created a safe closeness that allowed me to feel nurtured as if by an old friend. The Aikido work we did together allowed me to connect with and feel my inner strength in a way I had never experienced before. She helped me learn how to create boundaries and gain the confidence to tell those around me what I needed.”

 

 Environmental planner, 38

“Through my work with Charna I was able to free myself from an unfulfilling relationship, set new boundaries, strengthen my voice, and discover new passions. We chiseled away layers of fear that had a physical and emotional grip on me from past traumatic experiences. I am now significantly more aware of my emotions, my body’s physical reactions to situations, and how the two are connected. I found this work to be incredibly healing, educational, transformative, and liberating.

Director of Operations, 42

“ I was stuck in many patterns of a lifetime of situational anxiety. Life was passing me by and I was not truly happy. I had just assumed it would always be this way, but was hoping to make some changes.   Charna’s gentle bodywork and caring somatic sessions especially resonated with me, more than I expected. During a session there would often be something buried that needed to surface. Things that didn't I really didn't truly want to address would be the real heart of the matter, and she would gently encourage them to be seen and acknowledged by me. I had been in traditional talk therapy before, years ago,but felt I had said all that needed to be said. I really believe the bodywork sessions uncovered these gems that helped me see more clearly, and lead me and her in a direction of things to really work on! Charna was very thoughtful in suggestions outside of the session for me to follow up on, I feel grateful she thinks of her clients outside the allotted sessions, and many of her recommendations were real breakthroughs for me.  She has helped me shine my own light.”

 

Gardener, 45

“I first met with Charna about 8 months after losing my boyfriend to a tragic death. I had terrible anxiety and had no idea where to even begin to get myself out of panic attacks. She worked with me in really unique ways, teaching me coping mechanisms and giving me realistic advice. She helped me work through not only my boyfriends death and how to cope with that, but also other things from my past. I feel like she impacted the way I live in such a positive way.”

 

Nurse, 25

"When I first met Charna, I was undergoing a very painful end of a long term relationship. Through our work together, I got more than I ever would have imagined: I moved through the grief process, let go, and opened myself up for the wonderful things to come. Through her tender and insightful somatic practice, I found a new place to stand in the world - one of self-compassion, embodied leadership, and healthy boundaries. I am now in a place where I experience joy so much more freely and regularly. Our work together was truly a gift."

 

Academic, 35

“Charna helped me navigate a major transition in my professional and personal life. Her no-nonsense, results-oriented style was exactly what I was looking for and never able to find in a traditional therapist. She helped me tap into the intelligence of my body and trust my inner wisdom and truth like no other healer I've ever worked with, and I've worked with a lot of healers! Our work together cleared major blockages that had been holding me back my entire life and empowered me to heal myself through practical, powerful practices that I still use every day. Her breadth of experience and knowledge is immense and she is just as much a teacher as she is a therapist. If you are really, really done with needless suffering and ready to get out of your own way and start true healing, Charna is your guide.”  

 

Writer, 41