Body-Oriented Therapy
Christine M. Bouckaert, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist #18851
SE, Bodynamic, EFT couples and Sandplay Therapist

Therapies and Services

Individual Therapy

Life can be full of challenges. We have the choice to take them as opportunities to learn or reasons to be depressed and give up.

I agree that some circumstances in our life can be very difficult and challenging but I also believe that we can use them as opportunities to grow.

With patience and empathy, I will help you work on slowly finding how to bounce back while finding how to move on with your life in a meaningful way.

Couples Therapy

Improve partnered relationships. Deal with issues stemming from divorce, sexual orientation, pregnancy, birth, infertility, aging, alienation and isolation.

In working with couples, I stress that maintaining a successful relationship is an ongoing and challenging work. After the honeymoon period is over, couples start to see each other in a much more authentic way, each with their own needs and wishes and sometimes losing track of who their partner is and what their partner needs are.

"Forget about learning about how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making great romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, get the emotional underpinnings of your relationship by recognizing that you are emotional attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection." -Sue Johnson

Using Sue Johnson approach and mindfulness as a method of self-observation, I will try to help you recognize the "demon's" dance or dialogues, and find the raw spots in your relationship. I will explore what each partner's needs are and I will help each of them express these needs to the other while helping both partners to be able to listen better and understand each others needs. I will revise the rocky moments in your couple, try to help you to engage and reconnect again, help you to forgive injuries and help you bond through better understanding each other, using sex and touch among other things to revitalize your love again.

By opening up more appropriate ways to communicate you will learn how to handle communication challenges, how to ask for support in your life and in your job, deal with the problems you encounter in your couple, work out intimacy and sexual difficulties, discuss different parenting styles and understand multi cultural and spiritual differences.

For a very long time I have looked and taken trainings to find how I could help my couples only to be disappointed over and over again.

Finally I attended a workshop with Sue Johnson and there it was! Her method has been proven to have a very high percentage of success with couples.

Books written by Sue Johnson: "Hold Me Tight" — "Love Sense"

Child and Teen Therapy

I love working with children and teens.

I have always been amazed to see how resilient, courageous and honest they are. They are eager to feel better. They trust their capacity to heal and they will put all their energy in solving even the most painful wounds.

These young people taught me to be more patient and be more respectful in general.

In my work with children and teens I will let them choose how they want to engage with me. They can work in the Sand, use Expressive Arts (such as drawing, painting, clay, collages, mask making), work in the doll- house or choose to play games.

This way I create a safe and trustful relationship with them, what open up the way to work on the problem they are struggling with.

In my work with kids and teens, our focus is to help them:

  • Express themselves appropriately and develop more self-control
  • Develop a more positive self-image
  • Be more responsible for their behavior and respect and live with limits
  • Know and trust themselves better
  • Learn how to make decisions
  • Be more aware of how they relate to family members, peers and friends
  • When I work with teenagers, I help them sort out:
  • What kind of friends they need and what kind they don't
  • How drugs and alcohol affect them
  • How healthy sex is part of life and what choices they can make
  • What kind of future they want for themselves
  • What kind of person they want to be and what they stand for
  • How to express themselves while considering the opinions of others
  • How to express strong emotions and unresolved feelings

I worked for three years with children and teens in the “Child Therapy Institute of Marin” Director is the Brian Lukas. Our main Sandplay instructor were Tessamarie Capitolo and Maria Chiaia.

Family Therapy

According to Bowen, a family is a system in which each member had a role to play and rules to respect. Members of the system are expected to respond to each other in a certain way according to their role, which is determined by relationship agreements. Within the boundaries of the system, patterns develop as certain family member's behavior is caused by and causes other family member's behaviors in predictable ways. Maintaining the same pattern of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system, but also to dysfunction. For example, if a husband is depressive and cannot pull himself together, the wife may need to take up more responsibilities to pick up the slack. The change in roles may maintain the stability in the relationship, but it may also push the family towards a different equilibrium. This new equilibrium may lead to dysfunction, as the wife may not be able to maintain this overachieving role over a long period of time.

In my work with families I will try to let each member understand the role he plays in his family and how this affect the whole system. With attention and empathy I will help the family to work on what they need to restore safety and balance in their family.

Trauma, Depression and Anxiety

Trauma is the perception that one's survival is in question.

What one person perceives as normal another can perceive as trauma.

"Trauma is perhaps the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering. Although it is the source of tremendous distress and dysfunction, it is not an ailment or a disease - it is more a state of dis - ease, the by-product of an instinctively instigated, altered state of consciousness. Children, can be overwhelmed by what we regard as common, everyday events. So in a certain way, most of us have experienced trauma, either directly or indirectly." -Peter Levine

Wild animals in the bushes have an inborn immunity to trauma.

Otherwise they could not survive. After the fight (aggression) or flight (fear) and a possible freeze (numbness and dissociation), and when the danger is gone, animals will simply discharge all the accumulated energy by shaking it off.

Since our brains have the same instinctive response to threats we have the same options. Sadly, culturally we are taught to disregard our instincts and we allow our more developed rational brain or our neo-cortex to prevent us from taking on this important job of releasing energy.

When we do not discharge the activation and the threatening events in our lives, traumatic symptoms will arise. As a consequence our nervous system has been de-regulated.

We have lost our capacity to cope, to self regulate, and our ability to handle the difference between activation and relaxation. In order to heal we have to fully discharge the energy that we have accumulated in our bodies during the event.

Talk therapy is only a secondary intervention for trauma as well as any other disorder involving the nervous system be it anxiety, panic, PTSD, OCD or other disorders.

Using Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi, EMDR and hypnosis and by gently "titrating" the experience and avoiding catharsis or overwhelm, I will help you to slowly discharge high levels of energy trapped in the nervous system. I will also help you regain the capacity to live a balanced life in the present while not being stuck in the past.

Through our work you will regain your capacity to self regulate and handle the differences between feeling overwhelmed and feeling relaxed or just being able to enjoy the present.

Attachment Repair Therapy

My main education has been with Diane Poole Heller. I assist Diane at the moment in her DARE (The Dynamic Attachment Re-Patterning Experience) trainings.

Attachment in humans starts pre-verbally or in the first months and years of their lives.

In the first months on this earth only our reptilian brain is at work.

Unlike other mammals a child is unable to take care of himself when it is born!

For these reasons parents need to create a container of positive holdings for their children. Babies need to be touched, nurtured, pampered, fed, loved and given whatever they need in order to survive. This constant positive attention to their needs and the love we give them is necessary to create a "secure" attachment style.

If this is done properly, these children will be able to create fulfilling relationships in their lives.

  • When parents are unavailable, hostile or neglectful, children will develop an avoidant attachment style. People with this style will isolate themselves and will not expect that other people can be able to help them. This will result in feeling that relationships and intimacy are so difficult that they will avoid them. They feel that they can not trust other people and can only "count on themselves".
  • When parents are inconsistent in their behavior or "here today and gone tomorrow", children will develop an ambivalent attachment style. They will continue to walk on eggs shells, feeling incapable of being loved and being lovable. They will continue to struggle with "Can I truly be loved or am I lovable enough?" This results in "over focusing on others and under focusing on themselves".
  • When parents have been seriously hurt themselves in their lives and if their lives stays chaotic and fearful they will not be able to give any consistency to their children. Children from these parents become frightened and very confused, lacking a safe connection.
    These children will live constantly in a double bind situation: they will look for a safe attachment figure while protecting themselves. This upbringing will result in a disorganized attachment style.

In our attachment work I will try to repair what you have missed in your earlier years.

Books written by Diane Poole Heller: "Crash Course, a Self Guide to Auto Accident Trauma and Recovery"

Cross Cultural Issues

We underestimate what we pick up when we grow up.

The culture, habits and rituals of our daily life are part of who we are and how our lives are. Our background, be it racial, socioeconomic, educational or cultural leaves a mark on our later life.

For these reasons, moving to and living in another culture can be highly challenging.

Living in a new culture can question who we are, what our relationship with our partner is all about, how we will relate to our kids who attend a school with other habits and another educational system, and how we grow and can handle human interactions.

We can either feel lost in this new culture or we can try to find the differences in cultures and sensibilities as an opportunity to grow instead of jumping to assumptions about how other people feel and how they live.

I will help you see the differences in culture as an opportunity to make your life more interesting, feel more secure and mature instead of feeling threatened.

By doing this work you will become a human being who understands and respects people and accepts that people can live differently.

You will also start to see the world in a completely different way; living in peace in this world is possible if each of us would try to understand how other cultures live.

Being an immigrant myself and having struggled with being able to understand another culture and trying to integrate it in our daily lives I very well understand how difficult it is to live in another country.

Loss and Grief Counseling

The loss of a loved one, a partner, a parent, a child, a baby or an embryo, our health, a job, a way of living or even a pet can be a devastating experience for all of us.

With love, patience and nurturing support I will try to help you work through your feelings of denial, anger, unbelief, guilt, sadness, regrets and whatever comes up while trying to help you to recoup your power and motivation to find reasons to go on with your life and not give up. Through the therapy process I will help you transform this more than disturbing and devastating crisis is an experience that can help you grow spiritually.

I worked in the Hospice in Petaluma for one year mainly working with adults who had lost a loved one and volunteers for 3 months in the Lycee Francais La Perouse in San Francisco after the school lost a wonderful child in a ski accident.

Cancer, Chronic & Terminal illness, Failed Anesthesias

Having to live with a chronic illness, cancer or a terminal illness is overwhelming for all of us. People experiencing chronic illness, cancer, terminal illness, addictions, near death experiences and failed anesthesia's, feel often despair and hopelessness on a daily basis.

They can experience a lot of shame as their condition can be difficult to handle. Many will also feel that they are a burden for their environment and loved ones.

The nature of what they experience makes it difficult for a lot of them to experience some joy in their life. Near death experiences and failed anesthesia's can leave a person in a state of numbness, as both of these experiences were traumatic. Some chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines and other immune diseases have been related — in some research — to difficult childhood and traumatic experiences.

With patience and nurturing support, I will try to find out how I can help them manage their pain, while trying to find ways to help them feel better.

With all of them I will try to find what can be done to lighten the suffering and pain and how family and friends could be more supportive.

I will help set daily goals and try to find daily activities that my clients can do instead of focusing on what they cannot do. This way their self- esteem will be boosted and they will be more confident in being able to do more enjoyable things instead of becoming bitter and frustrated because they feel so stuck.

It can be a very lonely and hard road for a lot of them but being able to come in and find support while being able to talk about their frustrations and pains, while being able to cry and vent it all can make a difference in their lives.

Having had a pharmacist education and having owned a lab of medical analysis I have always been interested in helping people suffer less.

In my work as a psychologist Peter Levine, Steve Hoskinson, Maggie Kline, Raja Selvan and Maggie Phillips have thought me a lot on how to help people suffer less.

Near-Death Experiences

People experiencing near death experiences and failed anesthesia's, feel often despair and hopelessness on a daily basis.

The nature of what they experience makes it difficult for a lot of them to experience some joy in their life.

Near death experiences and failed anesthesia's can leave a person in a state of numbness, as both of these experiences were traumatic.

Main teacher: Peter Levine

Body-Centered Therapies

Our Western civilization seems to have forgotten that we have also a body…Focus is too much on our mind witch seems to be the only important part of our being in our society.

The Eastern world has since ages understood that our bodies are so much wiser. They are right. We don't solve trauma by talking. We have to integrate the body.

Body-Centered therapies will help you to rediscover the wisdom of the body. Our memory is contained for 95 % in our body and not in our mind. This means that the body remembers "exactly" what has happened with us throughout our life, contrarily to our mind witch changes the narratives. Your body knows what went on in the past, what you sensed or felt when facing a trauma or a discomfort well before your mind could put words on them.

In Body-Centered Therapies we help you track what is going on in your body in the HERE and NOW. Helping you to hang out with these sensations, feelings or memories result in the fact that the trauma's you endured in your life will be resolved and that you will feel more relaxed. This will help you also to enlarge your capacity to handle the stresses and hard times in your life.