Catherine Rowan

Catherine Rowan picture

I originally trained as an occupational therapist and then went onto to specialise in long term rehabilitation for people who had suffered an acquired brain injury. In the 1990s I did a training as a Gestalt psychotherapist to augment my work in the field of ABI.

In 1999 I was involved in a car accident which left me with a severe chronic pain condition and visual vertigo. I was unable to work and for over decade life was about micro-managing my pain. Then in 2010 I discovered the work of Dr Robert Scaer who had, inspired by the Poly-Vagal theory of Stephen Porges, identified that the autonomic nervous system (ANS), stuck in fight/flight/freeze played a crucial role in the continuation of conditions like mine.

Scaer recognised that people with these conditions all had one thing in common: they had suffered from trauma in their pasts, particularly in their childhoods. To heal meant working with the ANS in the body to help the nervous system create new neural pathways that created that state of homeostasis or what Porges calls social engagement.

Simultaneously in 2010 I also discovered Focusing and in so doing I had then found a new way forward to working somatically with my very stuck ANS.

Focusing has changed my life. Whilst I still have problems with pain my life is very different now. I am passionate about Focusing and have found it is a great way to work with trauma in a way that no other somatic therapy offered me. I believe this is because Focusing offers the Focuser total control, which is so important for those of us who suffered childhood trauma with no escape and no control.

It also offers a way to go precisely at the speed of the body’s requirements to heal and, as I have gone deeper into my trauma, I have found Wholebody Focusing approach, which builds on deepening embodied presence, is offering me a way to be with pre-verbal trauma safely.

I trained as a Focusing Practitioner with Fiona Parr and I am currently training in Wholebody Focusing with Addie van der Kooy.