Holistic Depth Psychotherapy - Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC

Integrative Therapeutic Approaches


"Body-oriented work has the potential to put us in direct contact with long disowned parts of the self: sensations of hurt, movements and sounds of anger, trauma, and helplessness of past experience... The contribution of body-oriented work to the process of change in psychotherapy is to 'flesh out' our words and images with sensations, movement, and the concreteness of our bodily existence."

~ James Kepner

Experiential Approaches:

Human growth and transformation is generally facilitated only to a limited extent through the application of conceptual approaches to insight. Intellectual knowledge and rational explanations are not enough by themselves to undo lifelong, entrenched patterns of thinking and feeling. Insight must be energized by emotions that wear flesh, bones, muscles and nerves in order to effect deep characterological changes that endure. I introduce an enlivening menu of experiential processes so as to inspire emotionally charged shifts in the person's conscious awareness of herself, her relationships, and the larger human condition. Experiential approaches to healing help another connect and embody his feelings, thoughts, sensations, and perceptions from the inside out. Thus, in keeping with my integrative philosophy, I incorporate strands from many experiential schools of psychotherapy to create a tangible environment in which people can fully inhabit themselves through what the poet Rilke called "blood learning".

My orientation as a relational psychotherapist creates a larger context in which intimate ongoing participation in an authentic therapeutic relationship provides new corrective emotional experiences that counter and disconfirm the client's old beliefs and expectations. This is an experiential womb in which time and time again the individual receives attention, empathy, understanding, respect and affirmation of his personhood. Little by little, these new relational experiences change the person’s felt sense of herself from the cellular level outward, whittling away old rusty myths such as that of the "unlovable child trapped in a hostile and uncaring world". These benevolent blood experiences engender hope and a new marrow- deep experiential understanding of how healthy connections can feel. Within the safe therapeutic relationship, a client's old dysfunctional and defensive patterns of reacting and behaving—which are often reenacted with the therapist—are gently confronted, explored, and transformed in the here-and-now.

Body-oriented or somatic psychotherapy is one of the experiential schools whose approaches I weave into my healing art. This theoretical orientation embraces the holistic concept of the mind-body connection and believes that our psychological, mental, and emotional processes are simultaneously experienced within our somatic selves as energy, sensation, tension, breath, posture, movement and gesture. Trauma, emotional pain, conflicts and characterological defense strategies are expressed in various somatic organizations such as chronic muscular contraction and physical armoring, shallow or irregular breathing, collapsed postures, rigid or agitated movements, and psychosomatic symptoms. Body-centered psychotherapy understands that we cannot be fully alive and healthy without being vitally connected in a balanced flow within our embodied selves.

Although I have received post graduate training in Bioenergetic Analysis and have also studied the schools of somatic experiencing as well as sensorimotor approaches to psychotherapy, I utilize a more integrative style of body-oriented therapy that incorporates techniques and theories from a wider berth of contemporary schools of somatic psychotherapy. I particularly utilize body-oriented approaches to healing PTSD and trauma. It is well known now that complex trauma often causes wide ranging brain, automatic nervous system and physiological dysregulation accompanied by a plethora of dissociative and defensive reactions that are impossible to process and heal through cognitive analysis alone. Therefore body oriented psychotherapy practices have become a fundamental part of my approach to helping clients both access split off traumatic experiences as well as ‘rewire’, stabilize and soothe their overwhelmed, disorganized and shut down brains and nervous systems.



"Some survivors live in a metaphoric silence expressed by polished verbal proficiency reflecting highly intellectualized defenses. Words, although skillfully employed, say little about real inner thoughts and feelings. Language is a protective shield against the possibility of rejection, hurt, or exposure that intimacy has brought in the past. Drawings and body movement can open a window upon the true self, which has been hidden since childhood."

~ Susan L. Simons

I utilize a whole range of Expressive Arts approaches to enhance healing, internal integration and self-revelation. Creative processes such as drawing, painting, scupture, music, movement, imagery, writing, storytelling and psychodrama encourage the emergence of long suppressed aspects of the self, traumatic memories, and dissociated experiences. The resultant exposure of honest but hidden facets of the person allows for deeper exploration and understanding as well as integration of fragmented experiences into a more conscious and coherent Self. The expressive arts thus are a vehicle of empowerment in which subjective impressions, emotions, sensations, and intuitions are transformed via creativity into stronger, louder, embodied voices for one's formerly shunned and silenced interior places.

An experiential approach that I employ frequently is work with multifaceted inner sub selves of the individual's psyche. This approach is based on theories of internal multiplicity or the belief that the normal Self is a plural construction made up of a number of parts, characters, voices or cognitive processes that form an interactive system capable of reorganization. Theories of multiplicity are supported by contemporary research in many disciplines including the cognitive neurosciences, quantum physics, social constructivism, Buddhist meditation, and various psychological schools.

Within my psychotherapeutic practice I synthesize several experiential methods to working with sub parts of the self such as internal family systems and voice dialogue. My intention is to promote intimate awareness of varied self-states, internal connection between dissociated sub parts as well as the establishment of an Adult Self in charge of supporting and eventually healing emotionally dysregulated and traumatized subparts such as child parts and the internal self-critic. Disharmony in a person's internal self system can lead to numerous painful symptoms, states of chronic emotional overwhelm as well as compulsive behaviors and interpersonal dysfunction. I place special emphasis on helping my survivors of trauma develop a stronger and wiser adult state that can provide stability, guidance, empathy, soothing, protection and reparenting for more developmentally vulnerable and emotionally wounded subselves, often envisioned as "inner children".

In addition to the above experiential modalities, I also utilize a myriad of active techniques from several other experiential schools of psychotherapy. A sampling of these diverse approaches includes Gestalt Therapy improvisational role plays and awareness experiments, Hakomi Methods for mindfully processing core material, Focusing techniques aimed at holistic attention to bodily felt senses, Jungian Active Imagination methods for awakening unconscious wisdom, and a variety of experiential approaches to dream work.

Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC, Holistic Depth Psychotherapist

Voice Mail: (401) 573-6396  Email: info@holisticdepththerapy.com

Serving Rhode Island and Southeastern Connecticut