Somatic wilderness therapy is a unique therapeutic approach, that is a marriage of two different kinds of therapy: somatic therapy and wilderness therapy!
On this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected Dr. Fedrick is joined by Katie Asmus. Katie is an MA, an LPC, a Psychotherapist, and she is the founder of the Somatic Wilderness Therapy Institute. She is here to give us the scoop!
Key Takeaways from Liz’s chat with Katie:
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
Find more information about the Somatic Wilderness Therapy Institute at: www.wildernesstherapyinstitute.com
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Dr. Liz: [00:00:00] Now more than ever. We have an opportunity to be a positive force in the world to help heal the divide, to treat each other and ourselves with respect. Well, there's so many tools out there from meditation to physical training, proper nutrition therapy, and so many others. We all need a little help navigating all the options.
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Hello and welcome to calm, cooling connected. I'm your host Dr.
Elizabeth bay. Somatic wilderness therapy is a unique therapeutic approach that consists of the conscious incorporation of the natural world into the therapeutic process. It might include things such as engaging in mindfulness practices in nature, moving our bodies and feeling our own breath and a liveliness and engaging in some challenges such as rock climbing, rafting, hiking.
Joining us today is Katie. Asthma's a [00:01:00] psychotherapist and founder and director of the sematic wilderness therapy Institute. Katie's here to chat with us all about somatic wilderness therapy, including the benefits of this approach. Hi, Katie, welcome to our show.
Katie Asmus: Thank you so much. Great to be here.
Dr. Liz: great to have you. So this is a really unique approach. This is something that even myself in the field for a very long time, I haven't heard of something like. Specific, tell us a little bit about, your background, what you do, who you are and how this relates to that.
Katie Asmus: Great. Well, so right.
There's a whole field of wilderness therapy, which is really looking at ways of consciously incorporating the natural world and, or being outside sometimes in adventure, sometimes in relationship with nature that supports the healing process. And then there's a whole nother field of sematic psychotherapy, which is really looking at the body-mind connection.
Right. I really have brought these two together through my background in [00:02:00] working in the first outdoor education field and then wilderness therapy fields for now over 30 years, combining that with my master's study in somatic psychology and have really been weaving those two pieces together, both in my own private practice.
And teaching others. And I've also taught at two universities in their masters, wilderness therapy, somatic therapy and adventure therapy programs. Wow.
Dr. Liz: So that is, I mean, it's sounds like you're really trying to get it more widespread, trying to get it more available to others. Tell us what exactly, how would you, if you put the description in the nutshell, the best you could, how would you best describe this?
Katie Asmus: Yes. Well, like I said, first looking at the wilderness piece, the conscious connection with the natural world. So there's so many things that can happen when we're in connection with nature. We are automatically doing something that is more embodied, right. We're in [00:03:00] active relationship. And so that could look like anything from.
Sitting and opening our senses and being present with the natural world to actually talking to a tree or to challenging ourselves by maybe taking a hike or climbing a peak that we didn't know that we can do. And all of this really bringing in also awareness of the impact of our sensations, our emotions, and how we feel and think about ourselves.
So really, it
Dr. Liz: sounds like getting out of autopilot, which most of us spend a majority of our lives in and really being present and connected to the bigger world around us that often we don't pay as much attention to. What are some of the benefits that you see with your clients
Katie Asmus: with this specific.
Oh, so many. So first of all, these ways of working are experiential. And when we do something that it's, that's experiencial again, we're [00:04:00] automatically bringing it into the body. We're also a mirror arises. There's a saying how we do anything is how we do everything. That the way we approach challenge shows up the way we approach rain coming in the middle of the session impact, you know, shows up in how we deal with challenge.
And so there's, and there's another really busy, another relationship in this space, which is nature, something that is dynamic. And so benefits of really just getting more clearer about our own strengths, our own challenges. And then there are so many studies now that. Show the benefits of being outside in the fresh air, in relationship to the natural world, as opposed to, you know, on the screens.
And there's better focus, more calm or regulated nervous system. The list goes on, but I think the movement piece and the experiential relationship piece brings so [00:05:00] much.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. And how would you suggest for, for other providers who maybe they're the basis of their practice is in an office how did they incorporate this approach even without doing it, you know, shifting their modality completely.
Katie Asmus: I love this question. It's actually one of my passions in life to support other practitioners in this way. The first thing is to say, anybody can sit outside with their client or walk outside. You don't need any special training or. Insurance to just be outside. So anyone can do that. And I've found, especially in the last couple of years through the pandemic, so many more of my clients have wanted to be outside and be in person.
And so that's been a great benefit. The other thing is the sensory awareness. Again, something you can do just sitting outside beginning to open the senses, which really can help bring people into the present moment, help regulate the nervous system. [00:06:00] And then there's a really simple practice, which is, you know, maybe finding a circle spot on the earth and spending time, noticing how much life is right there in that space.
So those are just some simple ways that people can begin right now. I
Dr. Liz: love that. And when I used to specialize in working with children and teens, I would intentionally take them outside so frequently during sessions. And for a lot of the reasons that you're saying there was something about the fresh air and the freedom of the space, and we were able to practice a lot of these mindfulness techniques because you can up the leaves and the rocks and take deep breaths and all of that.
So I imagined that. Similar to those
Katie Asmus: experiences. Yes, exactly. And, you know, there are so many interventions that we use anyway, to help people come into the present moment that are about senses and then so much more rich when we are looking around at the natural world. Oh, yeah. And [00:07:00] also you know, I teach people how to incorporate nature, even if they're working inside or online.
And that could be through having nature objects or nature beings or plants or animals in the space that you incorporate with the therapeutic process. Or I'll have people even look out their window and connect with nature, you know, as they look outside and just to see, you know, the sky, the trees, the clouds, what they can see right there, which can also bring in metaphor and other experiences.
Dr. Liz: that's all such a great point. How would you encourage somebody, maybe somebody listening who would want to find this type of practitioner who specializes in this approach? How would you suggest they go about doing that?
Katie Asmus: Oh, great question. Probably Google it.
There are more and more people doing it, especially I would say in the last few years I would look up adventure [00:08:00] therapy, wilderness therapy, ecotherapy nature-based therapy. There are different terms that people use. But I would say there's more and more people doing it around the country and around the world.
Actually, there's an international adventure therapy. Community where we're at, they do conferences every three years. So yeah,
Dr. Liz: it's becoming more widespread. Tell me, and you have your website and do you do only individual sessions or do you put on workshops or tell us a little bit about what you do personally.
Katie Asmus: Yes. Well, a big part of my work in addition to therapy is mentoring and training other practitioners. So I do a lot of mentoring and I teach a lot of courses, both in-person and online are renowned incorporating nature into the therapeutic process. I live in Colorado, so I do those in-person mostly in Colorado and I also offer.
Wilderness [00:09:00] retreats for women at this time to go spend time on the land and really do our own kind of work and reflection and that's for anyone, really many therapists come, but anybody can come to those. All
Dr. Liz: right. And where, what is your website? Where are you on social media? Tell us all about that.
How can you be found?
Katie Asmus: Yes. So as you said, our it's somatic wilderness therapy Institute, the website is wilderness therapy, institute.com. We're also on Instagram at, or Facebook is semantic wilderness therapy Institute. And Instagram is at somatic wilderness therapy. Very
Dr. Liz: good. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Katie.
This is really good information. I think a lot of people could benefit from.
Katie Asmus: Yes. Thank you so much, such an honor, and pleasure to be here. Thanks for all you do.
Dr. Liz: And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cooling, connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well.
[00:10:00] Thank you again for joining us on this episode or calm, cooling, connected.