Joe Barnwell is a trauma therapist and counsellor providing therapy and counselling services in North Vancouver, BC

cell: 604·649·1126

email: joe@thewellnessfactor.ca

My Approach



image of mountains
nav button nav button nav button nav button nav button nav button

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy


Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton and others have developed Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) over the past few decades. This approach is a major player in the field of psychotherapy today helping to heal trauma in the body.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is the foundation of theory and practice that I use when working with trauma. Sometimes I find it helpful to blend in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy EMDR as a complimentary approach to support you in your therapy process.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy acknowledges the importance of direct work with body sensation, movement, and sense perception in combination with thought and emotion for trauma based issues. SP describes the theory of how the mind and body become split through trauma and the nervous system overrides reason when responding to situations.


What can you expect in a sensorimotor session?

The first step in a sensorimotor therapy session is to build a safe environment to work in. I will start out by asking you what your resources and strengths are. These will be resources inside and outside of yourself, for example an internal resolve to improve your situation and/or people in your social circle that are supportive. It may be something as simple as the comfort you feel when you rest your hand gently on your chest or stomach. Or it may be missing resources that are identified such as an exercise routine that you have let slide. These resources will provide an important foundation for the work we are to do together in therapy.

I will be asking you what body sensations and movements you are aware of at various points in psychotherapy. This awareness is central to the work. By bringing your awareness to your body we are building a platform for following what your body needs to do to discharge the trauma energy stuck in your nervous system.

I will introduce you to the "Modulation Model" as a tool for therapy and daily living. This is simply a model aimed at learning how to regulate activity levels in your nervous system.  By paying attention to your body responses such as heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, posture and other sensations you will learn to notice when your nervous system is over or under-activated and when it is at ideal levels for therapy and daily living. We will then identify the tools and resources that help you manage the level of activity in your nervous system.

With these various tools and resources in place I will be asking you about your trauma history. It is important not to become re-traumatized by recounting traumatic events in your life so this general history and any work we do entails working with the modulation model to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to improve processing.

As well, you can expect an opportunity to process specific traumatic memories in a safe manner. We will, again, carefully work in a way that maintains optimal levels of activity in your nervous system to avoid re-traumatization. Together we will find ways to create an opportunity for your body to release energy stuck from the trauma.

At times you may experience strong emotion in our psychotherapy sessions. We support the expression of your emotion when it is part of the resolution of trauma. You can expect to be challenging your beliefs as well, particularly beliefs of self-judgement and limitation as the trauma cycle is broken.  We will work together with these beliefs and help support the transformation into more positive views of yourself.

We will take time throughout therapy to help integrate the changes that are occurring in your awareness, in your body, thoughts and emotions. This will help reinforce the work you are doing along with the help of practical ways to translate the change into action in your daily life.

Through careful and sound practice placing your attention on the physical part of your experience is the key to resetting your nervous system. This then gives your brain an opportunity to process the overloads of information created at the time of the trauma. With a new found integration of the trauma experience symptoms of anxiety, depression and others resolve with the help of psychotherapy.

I am continually impressed with the transformations my clients experience through this very well organized and safe therapy.

The hallmark of Pat Ogden's work in Sensorimotor Therapy is, "if you pay attention to the body, amazing things can happen."

For an in-depth understanding of SP, I refer you to Trauma and the Body, by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton & Clare Pain.

If you want help in resolving your symptoms of trauma, please contact me for an appointment. I can be reached at:

604·649·1126 or joe@thewellnessfactor.ca

Joe Barnwell is a trauma therapist and Sensorimotor therapist. He provides counselling services for Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver, BC