What does Odonata have to offer?

Are you experiencing any of the following?

  • a lack of engagement in life and a desire to feel more aliveness
  • lingering effects of childhood abuse
  • panic, nightmares, flashbacks after a traumatic event
  • struggles with self-esteem and self-image
  • life transitions (marriage/divorce, parenthood, career/school changes)

  • symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • feeling stuck in old patterns, thoughts, or feelings
  • relationship stress, conflict, or dissatisfaction
  • loss and grief

  • physical illness and its impact on the mind and emotions
  • eating issues
  • perfectionism or procrastination

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, I can help you to overcome those struggles and suffering and to ultimately come into a place of greater freedom, contentment, self-awareness, and empowerment. While I draw from many different therapeutic methods in my work, the following are my favorite modalities. All involve the whole person: mind, body, spirit, and environment. They can also bring lightness to often painful and frightening subjects by using exercises, imagery and sensory experiences.

Somatic Experiencing -Trauma Healing

Do you ever experience symptoms neither you nor anyone else can explain? Do you suffer from nightmares, flashbacks or startle responses? All of these could be symptoms of past traumatic events. Most people have been traumatized at some point in their lives. Accidents, sudden loss, serious illness, violence, surgical procedures, and abuse or attack can all be sources of trauma. While not everybody responds to traumatic events by developing symptoms, for those of us who do, there is good news: Trauma Can Be Healed.

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Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself, but rather by our reaction to it. Flight, fight and freeze are instincts all animals and humans use to get out of danger. When we humans become overpowered, we suppress fight and flight instincts and get stuck in freeze. Trauma is created.

Somatic Experiencing® is a body-awareness approach to trauma being taught throughout the world. It is the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands-on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma, Somatic Experiencing has touched the lives of many thousands. Somatic Experiencing employs the awareness of body sensation to help people renegotiate and heal their traumas rather than relive them. Not only can trauma be healed, but often it can be healed without endless sessions of therapy and a dependence on medication. When trauma occurs there is a disconnection between body and soul. Once you acknowledge the need to heal, Somatic Experiencing works to bring the body and soul back together.

Welcoming the Soul Back Into the Body

Peter Levine suggests this simple exercise as the first step in bridging the gap between mind, body, and spirit:

  1. For 10 minutes each day, take a gentle, pulsing shower at a cool or slightly warm temperature.
  2. Expose your entire body to the water and focus on the area the water is hitting.
  3. Hold the backs of your hands to the shower-head, then the palms and wrists, then both sides of your face, shoulders, etc. Focus the water on each part of your body and concentrate on the sensations you feel even if all you feel is numbness.
  4. While you are doing this, say, “This is my head, my neck,” etc. “I welcome you back.”
  5. You can also gently slap the different parts of your body briskly. When this is done on a regular basis, the skin sensations will help to reestablish a sense of body.
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Internal Family Systems Therapy

The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy recognizes that our psyches are made up of different parts, sometimes called sub-personalities. You can think of them as little people inside us. Each has its own perspective, feelings, memories, goals, and motivations. For example, one part of you might be trying to lose weight and another part might want to eat whatever you want. We all have parts like the inner critic, the abandoned child, the pleaser, the angry part, and the loving caretaker, each of which is designed to -- and wants to -- play a valuable role within. These parts are forced out of their valuable roles, however, by life experiences that can reorganize the system in unhealthy ways.

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A good analogy is an alcoholic family in which the children are forced into protective and stereotypical roles by the extreme dynamics of their family. While one finds similar sibling roles across alcoholic families (e.g., the scapegoat, mascot, lost child), one does not conclude that those roles represent the essence of those children. Instead, each child is unique and, once released from his or her role by intervention, can find interests and talents separate from the demands of the chaotic family.

The same process seems to hold true for internal families -- parts are forced into extreme roles by external circumstances and, once it seems safe, they gladly transform into valuable family members. In the IFS model, relating to our parts with openness and curiosity sets the stage for healing them.

The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy offers a clear, non-pathological, and empowering method of understanding human problems, as well as an innovative and enriching philosophy of practice that invites both therapist and client to enter into a transformational relationship in which healing can occur.

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Industrial Western culture has traditionally limited the concept of psychology to strictly human realms. From an Eco-psychological perspective, however, our emotional, physical and mental lives have both individual and collective dimensions. We do not live in isolation but in relationship with the earth, with water, animals, plants, rocks, clouds and stars.

Studies have shown that reconnecting with nature can help lift depression, improve energy, and boost overall well-being and mental health. This can be achieved by simply spending more time in nature, but even better by practicing nature meditations or by entering into a relationship with a specific natural feature.

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A path of true wellness is one that awakens our inherent sense of affiliation with the more-than-human nature and brings us into direct experience of deep connection with it. This perspective goes far beyond simply using nature as a tool for increasing a personal sense of well-being but also takes into account the wellness of the larger system. Following this concept, ecotherapy attempts to heal the deep wound of separation between human beings and the natural world by seeking to build greater emotional connections between people and the planet for betterment of both.

I am personally excited about this new approach to therapy. All through my life I have felt a special connection to plants and rocks and consider them my partners in healing. As a therapist, I focused on body-centred methods of counseling. While these methods allowed clients to experience healing energy through all their senses and afforded them a different sensation of well-being, I felt that my capacity as another human being in this process was limited. Through the concept of ecotherapy, I finally have the opportunity to tap into nature’s vast healing capacities in the therapeutic process.

For starters, here are 5 easy ways to get more nature into your life:

  1. Do outside whatever you usually do inside. Whether it’s your morning yoga routine or eating dinner in your kitchen, many of the things we do inside are easily transferable to the outdoors.
  2. Have a yard sale. Who couldn’t use a few extra bucks these days? Get to know your neighbors and unload some of the clutter in your life while spending time listening to the birds and smelling the flowers.
  3. Try a “moving meeting.” Recently, professors at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis came up with the idea of “Meetings on the Move” to get office workers out from behind their desks.
  4. To ramp up the nature quotient of your outdoor time, develop a hobby that will take you into a wilder place. Examples include hiking, bird-watching, and orienteering.
  5. Clean up a roadway or stretch of river. The best way to enjoy nature is to get involved in preserving it. The location can be as tame or as wild as you wish—just don’t forget the bug spray.
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Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control your body's functions, such as your heart rate. With biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio). This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the results you want, such as reducing stress. In essence, biofeedback gives you the power to use your thoughts to control your body, often to help with a health condition or physical performance. Biofeedback is often used as a relaxation technique.

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Biofeedback is particularly effective at treating conditions brought on by severe stress. When a person is stressed, their internal processes such as blood pressure can become irregular. Biofeedback therapy teaches you certain relaxation and mental exercises which can alleviate your symptoms.

Biofeedback can be used for a range of applications, including:
Treating tension headaches, migraines and other pain
Controlling high and low blood pressure
Helping patients control responses to stress or anxiety

I offer biofeedback as a self-administered option for clients who want to try it at $30 for a half hour session.

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Monika Wengler MA, LPCA
Eco-Therapy, Trauma Healing, Self-Care Counseling

70 Woodfin Place Suite: 326C, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: 828.777.8417


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