Ep #37 How Psychedelics Practitioners Can Use Somatic Coaching for Safer Integration:Case Study with Shawna Pelton

by | Jul 11, 2024 | Coaching, Healing, SCA Podcast

The Somatic Coaching Academy Podcast

Transcript

Ani
hi, everybody, and welcome to the Somatic Coaching Academy podcast. We’re really excited to have you here for episode 37. We are back in the faculty lounge today. Hey there, Brian.

Brian
We needed snacks in the faculty lounge last time.

Ani
Oh, yeah, we didn’t bring them.

Brian
Oh, actually, no.

Ani
But we did bring a guest to this talk.

Brian
We did, yes. We were so excited.

Ani
Excited to have a member of our faculty here in the faculty lounge. Hey, Shawna Pelton. Welcome to The Faculty Lounge.

Shawna
Thank you. Hi. I’m so excited to be here with you all.

Ani
We’re excited to have you here. We’re excited to talk about your story because in the Faculty Lounge, we’re sharing case studies. I really enjoyed that last time, Brian, when we were sharing a case study, and I’m really looking forward to hearing about Shawna’s.

Brian
Yeah. Shawna is an expert in the world of using psychedelics and helping people work through trauma-sensitive issues and get their lives back. I’m going to let Shawna describe a little bit more about what she does in just a moment. We’re going to ask her to do that. But really today, what we’re talking about is how psychedelic practitioners can use somatic coaching skills and practices for safer integration with their client work.

Ani
Shawna, we talked to our students about how not a lot of our students are actually doing work with trauma, but you actually have been working with trauma content with folks for a long time. Would you give us a little insight into your background?

Shawna
Yeah, sure. I didn’t necessarily aim to work with trauma. It just so happened that a lot of people were finding me because they were experiencing the long term effects of complex childhood trauma, not even aware that that’s why they were experiencing the things that they were going through. My background started just over 20 years ago, and as a matter of fact, it started with energy medicine. But it was at a time when nobody knew what energy medicine was, never mind how much. It’s literally integrated now into the modern day medical model, with a lot of nurses using it in hospitals and all that. But that’s where I got my start. Then it moved from there. I just started to have a passion for learning how to help people heal and transform their most difficult patterns in life. It’s evolved over the years. I say that I’m a holistic health practitioner, but honestly, it’s really hard to pinpoint or put me in a box because it’s just been an evolution as a practitioner and a coach and a healer and consultant and so many different roles that I’ve shown up in service and teacher and trainer.

Shawna
There’s just been so many ways in which I’ve been able to support people on their development, healing, developing, and evolutionary journey. I started in energy medicine, worked through natural protocols as well with natural medicine and also herbs and nutrition and that thing. And then I moved into learning more. This was actually one of the biggest things that helped me understand bioenergetics, the understanding of what’s actually going on with the energy and physical body and mind and all that, was actually a study in bioentology. I was one of the first practitioners in the country to get trained by an institute over from Germany. This was back in, I think 2011. That really opened up my world to learning the science behind the bioenergetics. That was really, I think, a profound shift for me as a practitioner. Then I moved into doing… From there. Essentially, it just kept leading me on my own path of personal healing, but also what I loved to do for others, which was to support them in going deeper into what’s the root cause of why it is that you’re going through what you’re going through. And so, yeah, here I am 20 years later.

Shawna
Essentially, what I tell people is it’s like an amalgamation. You take everything that you’ve learned over the years and it becomes something else. And that’s essentially where I’m at now. It’s like something has emerged out of the decades of applying all these various modalities and into one beautiful comprehensive system for helping people transform on very deep levels. Did that even answer your question?

Ani
Yeah, you have a lot of training and different certifications that you’ve taken even before the Somatic Coaching Academy. Shawna is a graduate of each of our certification programs, and you come very highly credentialed. Actually, it’s funny, Shawna, because every time we talk, I learn about another certification that, I’ve known you for 12 years, but I didn’t know you had. But you got into all of this stuff because of personal trials, right?

Shawna
Yeah, for sure. Yes.

Ani
So tell us a little bit about your own story that led you to healing and looking deeper at yourself.

Shawna
Yeah, absolutely. So I was a young mom, and my son’s father was struggling and lost his battle with addiction. And my son was about two and a half years old at the time. And I actually had one of those surreal moments where you start blinking your eyes and you think, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is what I knew. It was like a realization. If I was to continue the path that I was on, I was going to follow suit and my struggles were going to take over, and then I would put my son in a position where he would be an orphan. That was my realization. I knew in that moment that I wanted to show him a model that was different, even though I didn’t know what that model was because I was like most people, especially my generation and above, we grew up with the medical model. I had gone to the doctors and she told me that, well, you’re going to need… When I said to her, “Something’s not right. I am not okay. I need help. And she said, well, you’re just going to need to be on medication for the rest of your life.

Shawna
You’re that person.” And it was just an absolute jaw dropping moment for me, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, because in that moment, I realized that I was barking up the wrong tree. And so I knew that I needed to change. I I just didn’t know what that was because there wasn’t anything really accessible. We didn’t have the Internet. We didn’t have TikTok and it was telling us all about somatic coaching. I had to go to this building. It was a big brick building. They called it the library. And you could get all kinds of things, books, audios, videos. I literally immersed myself in the healing and spiritual teaching and metaphysical. That was the other thing, like deep knowledge, deep esoteric wisdom teachings I explored. So that began my journey of my own personal healing. But on that note, I know this is long. I’m going to quicken it. On that note, I remember one day having a positive shift, and I knew I was on to something. I could feel my life was changing. It wasn’t where I’m at now, but I could tell there was something real. And I had a moment and I was staring out the window, and I thought to myself, I can see it so vividly right now, and I thought to myself, there are so many people like me who are struggling, and they don’t know there’s another way other than the traditional model of treating symptoms.

Shawna
And so with that, I made a commitment that I was going to be of service and make a difference in the world. And I literally said to myself, I don’t know how I’m going to do that. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just was committed to making an impact in people’s lives to help them, provide them with alternatives to what they were familiar with. And so that began my own quest for discovering all of this. Like I said, 20 years of nonstop pursuit of knowledge, but more than knowledge, this is important. Everyone needs to hear this. Knowledge is not equal to transformation. Knowledge is information. It’s what you do with that information that leads to breakthroughs that lead to change. And so with that, here we are today. Yeah.

Brian
Powerful wisdom there, Shawna. I mean, That’s amazing. This is a lot of what I appreciate about you being a part of the Somatic Coaching Academy and on faculty now with us and going through your cohort and bringing that grounded sense of your own personal transformation through the experience and then sharing that with all of your peers through that cohort experience that you went through when you went through the certification program. It just was really It was really impressive to me, and I really valued it and honored it so much for you, and it was always so enjoyable for me.

Ani
Yeah, your personal story is really inspiring, and I think it’s so relatable on so many levels. So you were doing the work and you were working with people. And I remember I talked to you. I mean, we’ve been friends for a number of years. And I remember it was actually the year before you came on to take the certification programs, I was starting to think, maybe Shana will come in and get certified with us. But I remember thinking, too, but I’m not exactly sure why. I just have a sense that maybe she’ll come and take the certifications, but I don’t exactly know why. But you started to actually see some things in your personal practice with your clients that you knew you wanted to do something different about, right?

Shawna
Absolutely, yes. I love that you were thinking of me because I did have that same… I was like, What’s Ani up to? I wonder. So it was like hmmm. But around the time that you were getting started with this iteration of your academy for training coaches, I was also going deeper into getting trained as a certified psychedelic therapist because I was seeing people, like I said, people would come with their complex trauma. And what I was doing on an energetic and working with them spiritually and working with just their energy and also nutrition, all that, whatever it was that I was helping them with, I wasn’t necessarily moving the needle on progress. It’s almost like I was also just alleviating symptoms, and that’s what I realized. I personally had profound experiences working with plant medicine for my own healing. They were catalysts for great change for me, but it wasn’t like, Oh, I’m just going to go do drugs. I had one experience that changed my life, and then I had to learn to integrate that experience, and then I’d go and have another like years later. With that, I knew that the medicine could be profound.

Shawna
I got trained as a certified psychedelic somatic interactional therapist. And in that, I was seeing people’s transformation. However, this is something that really stood out to me because I realized very quickly on that just because I was trauma-informed, it didn’t make me trauma-sensitive as a practitioner. I felt literally helpless when my client, specifically, I had one client, I had probably had a view that had challenges, but one particular comes to mind. She was so destabilized by the deep dive that she had with me. I didn’t have the tools or the resources or any ancillary support system in place to actually help her integrate the experience, to make sense of it, and to actually restabilize her nervous system, to get her back into her window of tolerance. I didn’t even have the language for these things. And yet here I am working directly with trauma, and I didn’t have the way in which you need to work with someone with trauma, the right capacity or ability or sensitivities. I mean, I had emotional sensitivities. I didn’t have the skills. Let’s put it that way. That was my eye opener after she had such a destabilization that affected her life and she couldn’t function and she had to take off of work.

Shawna
She was working with me for so long before that and said, I still trust you and I don’t blame you. I know that this is part of the thing that I signed up for, accessing deep trauma, of course, it’s going to really affect me. But then and there, I knew that I needed a better way, and I wasn’t sure what that better way was. Then somehow, someway, I found what you guys were doing, and I didn’t know. Honestly, I didn’t have a knowing in my head that you guys were going to offer me exactly what I needed. But there was something deep inside of me that just felt right. It was like, Oh, this is what you need, and you’ll figure it out later, how you know you need it. With that said, immediately, I started with the course centering with you guys, and then joined every other program that you had because I immediately started to apply core centering instantly. The second I got trained and certified in core centering, I put together a bi weekly class, and that’s been long-standing. And the clients that I’ve had in that program have not left. Years later, they still come, and they show up every week for these core centering practices because it’s making a huge difference in their life.

Shawna
And they invite people. This is definitely something is happening here. There’s an impact that’s had, that’s been made with the core centering. And I feel really… And also, and this is the other thing about the core centering, because it’s not just about what I do after a session, but it is. It’s like, oh, after a one-on-one session, I have group classes for course centering. And is it okay if I go down this path? I started a conversation and realized you didn’t ask. Yeah, sure. Yeah, please. That’s okay.

Ani
We’re just hanging out.

Shawna


Brian
Go for it.

Shawna
I actually started to incorporate the core centering in the sessions, my one-on-one sessions. And literally, people are saying to me, the other day, I had a client, after literally a mere four sessions, four one-on-one sessions, he literally said, first thing out of his mouth when we got on the phone, He was like, I am a changed man. I am a changed man. And he was like, You won’t believe what’s happened since the last time we met. I’d like to say that that’s like, Oh, it’s like, wow, what a random thing. Hooray. But it’s not random. It’s science. It’s very strategic. I have been incorporating these protocols since the couple of years, I think it I feel like three years. I feel like I’m almost coming up on three years since core centering I started.

Brian
I don’t know. Yeah, I would say that’s about right. That’s about right.

Shawna
Because I know Jamieson was a baby. That’s how I know because he was a baby. So here I am three years later, and I can tell you that I feel so confident knowing that I’m going to get people real solid results using these very gentle, very specific and very sensitive practices that work on an energetic level with trauma, that work on the core wound level, that work with all of these mental defenses, emotional defenses, and even relational pieces as well, which is something also, like I learned in the past, I do incorporate some interaction and relational stuff into my work. But all of it’s to say, without what you guys taught me, I would not feel as confident or even safe to facilitate these deep dive sessions with people, with or without psychedelics, even though psychedelics are a big part of what a lot of clients do with me. They’re not what everyone, not all clients do, the psychedelic medicine, the plant medicine. It’s about the actual ability to navigate that terrain of the unconscious, where all of the stuff is hidden in Pandora’s box. We have a way to very neatly unpack it and manage it and be able to integrate it into people’s lives so that they don’t get dysregulated and destabilized by the journey.

Ani
It’s that confidence, right? Because you and I have talked about this. It’s astounding that you don’t necessarily get that training just because you’re getting trained in psychedelics or integration coaching or anything. I mean, even doctors or nurses and therapists aren’t necessarily trauma-informed or like you’re saying, trauma sensitive, which means when things come up, you really know what to do. That has to be… Confidence almost isn’t enough. I know. Like the word, to be able to know that you can handle anything that comes up. But it sounds also like you’re able to proactively put some things in your program so that those things are actually less likely to happen anyway.

Shawna
Yes. And that’s the thing. That’s the case. That’s so cool. They’re less It’s likely to happen. And when they do happen, they’re not as dangerous. They’re not as dangerous because I have built in. I baked in what you guys created. I baked into my model that I was already running with. And so now it’s an even more robust model and methodology that is so profound in what people are experiencing. My heart is full. I love it. I love it so much. Yeah.

Brian
I would just want to touch on something, Shawna. You said so many amazing things there. I mean, I’m just making a list in my head of all the things I’d love to just go deeper into with you. I think it’s awesome. And I also just… I feel you, my sister, on what brought me actually to the trauma-sensitive work, too, was this very similar situation that you had with somebody. And so me, it was bodywork, doing bodywork with people 15, 20 years ago. And I distinctly remember doing a bodywork session with somebody who I knew very well. They were actually a friend that I would socialize with, those sorts of things, and came in for some work on their back. And during the session, had a retraumatization. And I was helpless. I felt absolutely helpless during that experience, and I swore to myself I never wanted that to happen to another client I was working with or to myself again. Because at that time, I was doing deeper work around connective tissue and I knew I was dabbling in some sensitive areas for people, but just a lot of naivety on my part of, Oh, let’s just release the trauma thing, and it’ll all be fine.

Ani
Like a balloon.

Shawna
It doesn’t work that way.

Brian
It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way. And so I would wish that no coach or therapist who even is dipping their toes in deeper work with people ever has that experience. And that’s a lot of the reason that we went all this all this time and this loving effort to put together these programs to help practitioners just like yourselves who are using plant medicine, who are doing deeper bodywork, who are doing spiritual practices, who are doing anything, breathwork practices, anything that will elicit a potential retraumatization, it’s so important to help the person integrate that work safely. We can have, whether it’s a plant medicine experience or it’s Kundalini experience. As humans, we can have these large energetic experiences, and whether we grade them or judge them as good or bad, what they really need to be integrated. Going back to what you said before, it’s not even about the knowledge or the experience, it’s about the integration of those experiences into our lives that really helps us with sustainable and profound growth in our lives. And so you’re just such a wonderful avatar, Shawna, of this work and how you’re using it in the world.

Brian
And it grew out of a painful spot for me. I feel so pleased and rewarded to see you taking this work out in the world, spearheading it in a way that I wish I would have had 20 years ago.

Shawna
I bet.

Ani
Now you’re really doing that because what’s your vision for the future for you and for integration coaching?

Shawna
Well, it’s interesting you should ask. I appreciate your story, Brian, because one of the things that I realized very early and why I stayed with the program is because I value… I’m a lover of learning, but I’m also, as you noted, 20 years of nonstop certification trainings and getting myself masterful. I very much am… I’m not a snob in terms of… I don’t think I’m better than anyone by any sense. Not at all. However, I do know a good teacher when I see one. And Brian and you provide still to this day, for me a model of excellence in teaching and facilitating and mentorship that I needed. And I didn’t even know I needed it. I was like, Oh, I love this. And so I found myself really just able to just soak in everything that you were doing through osmosis and be able to take it and transform it into my own expression as a teacher and a facilitator. And with that said, I’ve been inspired because I’ve recognized the need in the industry that I’m in with people who do journey into non-ordinary states of consciousness. Sometimes they go there using plant medicines.

Shawna
Other times they go there with maybe hypnosis or a deep, real visualization. And it’s inevitable, you’re going to run into those occasional Pandora’s box, the occasional activation of a trauma response. And once the floodgates open, if practitioners don’t know how to journey through that unconscious realm, they’re going to feel like us, very insecure. Maybe even, and this is my worst, imagining the worst case, people think, “I’m not going to do this anymore because I don’t like it or I’m not good at it”. It’s like, “Hey, no, all you need to do is learn a few things, protocols that can really support you in supporting others, and you feel fulfilled getting the results that people are looking for”. So with that said, I’m taking the work that I have done over the years and putting it into a framework for coaches to be able to journey into those non-ordinary states of consciousness, but also because on this path as a core centering certified facilitation trainer, I’m going to be incorporating that work so that people can actually be certified in integration with core centering as well so that they, too, can really see what results can come from that and feel supported and be able to…

Shawna
As a business, it’s also good to be able to have a business model that feels like, Oh, this is sustainable and I can grow here. So with that said, I decided that I’m going to be launching my training for that purpose this coming year. I’m very excited for that.

Ani
That’s awesome. Love it. We’re excited for you, too. I mean, the fact that non-ordinary states of consciousness in a number of different ways, including plant medicine, is really opening up quite wide right now. And the knowledge that people like yourself are going out there to help people with the integration work using trauma sensitive and safe skills so that people can really do the work and get the safety in it. I mean, that gives me so much hope for our world.

Brian
Absolutely. I love it.

Ani
Shawna, thank you so much sharing your time and for coming on into the faculty lounge with us today. Really appreciate it having you on.

Shawna
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. Thanks so much for having me.

Brian
It’s been a pleasure. Yeah.

Ani
Well, Shawna. We can’t wait to see you in class. And thanks so much for those of you listening and watching for joining us for this edition with the Faculty Lounge. And jeez, Brian, I wonder who we’re going to have next to be talking about case studies with us. But until then, we’ll see you next time.

Shawna
Bye-bye. Bye now.

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