Why Somatic Tools Are Essential in Money and Life.

written by Bari Tessler July 15, 2020
Why Somatic Tools Are Essential in Money and Life.

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I’ve shared many parts of my story that led me to get a Masters degree in Somatic Psychology. Then become a Financial Therapist. And, then create the Art of Money methodology which I have been teaching for two decades now.

The highlights of my story:

  • Danced all the emotions as a teenager in my bedroom.
  • Asked to go to therapy as a teen but was sent to a male talk therapist.
  • Realized talk therapy wasn’t going to help me but didn’t know another way.
  • Finished my BA in history and still had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or career.
  • Moved to Israel to take a year off and figure things out.
  • Lived on a kibbutz, milked cows, and had an epiphany on one of my runs that I wanted to integrate my interest in psychology with my dance-movement background.
  • In a flash of insight, I thought I made up the Dance-Movement Therapy field!
  • Moved to Jerusalem and learned there are graduate programs in Somatic Psychology and Dance-Movement Therapy.
  • Came back to the states and started graduate school in Somatic Psychology at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.
  • Did all my graduate course work. Studied authentic movement with Janice Beard Bull and Somatic Therapy with Christine Caldwell and Susan Aposhyan.
  • Completed my internships in the Mental Health field. Worked in Hospice (both bereavement and over-night care). Taught Authentic Movement groups. Wrote a 150-page thesis on Ritual, Movement, and helping young women step into adulthood.
  • Graduated with a Masters Degree in Somatic Psychology in 1998.
  • Initially, I thought my work as a therapist would focus on the themes of body, sexuality, food, intimacy, grief, and death.
  • But my school loan came due and in a moment of fear, shame and confusion, I realized that the topic of money was left out of my therapy training and entire graduate school curriculum.
  • Realized that financial literacy was a big missing piece in my education as a human, as a woman, and as a budding therapist.
  • Spent many years learning emotional literacy and now it was time to learn financial literacy. I decided to learn everything I could about money and started with bookkeeping.
  • Ran a bookkeeping business for therapists, coaches, artists, and contractors for a few years. I learned so much about people’s money patterns.
  • Realized it was time to integrate my training as a therapist with my bookkeeping and other budding financial management skills.
  • My husband helped name my work: Financial Therapy.
  • In 2001, I offered my first private financial therapy sessions and group programs teaching my 3-phase Art of Money methodology.

I always say graduate school in somatic psychology saved my life or saved me from myself. I learned how to be in my body and find safety—learned how to listen to my body’s sensations and emotions—learned how to move through the big emotions (the pain, the grief, and the joy). I learned how to fine-tune the grief practices I had been living since I experienced big losses in my early twenties. And, I learned how to understand and unravel some key addictive patterns which were all so important to my development.

What is Somatic Therapy?

“Somatic Psychology engages body awareness as an intervention in psychotherapy. Somatic interventions address the connections between the brain, the mind, and behavior. Therapists who emphasize “talk therapy” generally focus on the mind as influencing psychological health, however the somatically oriented therapist uses knowledge of the basic functions of the nervous system to greatly enhance the therapeutic process.” — “Somatic therapy also facilitates resolution of trauma and PTSD responses. We can’t always think our way out of traumatic experiences. One of the biggest issues that we face as human beings is that we can feel trapped by our own physical and emotional states. These are the times that we feel panicky and anxious, without the ability to calm down. Other times we feel depressed and unmotivated and can’t seem to accomplish simple tasks. The brilliance of somatic interventions is the ability to directly intervene by developing new neural pathways and behaviors that provide alternative ways of responding to your environment without getting stuck in the habits of the past.Arielle Schwartz

Yes, I was looking for this body-centered path early in my teens, but the hands-on and experiential somatic training I received in graduate school was life-changing for me. It helped me step into adulthood, knowing that I could take myself through the deep pain and joy of life and that I had the tools to support others through this process as well.

Once I realized that financial literacy was a missing piece in my education, I quickly learned that so many people (from all different lineage and economic backgrounds) also did not receive this education. How different would our world be if we had?!

When it became clear that I was going to create a methodology (I was asked to create my first teaching from a mentor early on), I knew I had to merge Financial Literacy and Emotional Literacy.

Learning to understand what our particular money emotions are from shame, anxiety, anger, fear, guilt, sadness –to joy, excitement, hope, confidence — to fight, flight, freeze — and everywhere in between are essential life skills. Learning to name these emotions, feel these emotions, and move them through our body are also essential life and money skills.

So, from day one as a Financial Therapist, it was so important for me to bring my somatic tools to the money work. The very first tool I brought to my Art of Money methodology is a simple tool that I lovingly call: “the body-check-in”.

The body check-in teaches us to slow down and notice our emotions, sensations, and breath during our daily money interactions. From there, if practiced over and over, it will expand into a deeper awareness, understanding, and change with our money interactions and conversations.

I invite my students to practice this over and over before money interactions, during money conversations and after as a debriefing. And, YES this simple tool can move mountains.

So, while I have gotten some eye-rolls when I mention the body check-in practice, many students come back to me down the road saying this was truly life-changing for them.

Some additional articles to support you on this journey:

The Antidote to Money Shame
What Your Body Says about Money
What To Do When You’re in a Flight, Flight Freeze: My Bathtub Story.
5 Somatic Tools (Somatic Experiencing)
Somatic + Trauma Book List

Of course, there is more to all of this. Depending on the level of grief and trauma in our bodies and our histories, this will determine if we need more in-depth support with a private somatic therapist or somatic-trauma therapist or if books or courses are sufficient. Many of us need a combination of both.

This is why I always have a Teaching Assistant inside the year-long Art of Money program who specializes in trauma and somatic therapy. This year we have Sonya Brewer and Andrea Gage. And, in previous years, Karin Robbins was our Somatic Therapist. Please reach out to them if you prefer to work 1:1 and need help customizing your somatic support tools. (+ they all work via zoom)

Wherever you are on your somatic journey, at the beginning, years in, or integrating it with your money life for the first time, please keep going. The world needs us to be embodied and to have the tools to stay present in the pain, conflict, challenges and the beauty, love and joy of this time.

With my support and dearest wishes,

Here’s a little workbook that can help you right now…

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