Donna Brooks is a somatic movement educator and therapist, Yogi, and embodied meditator who has 35 years of experience teaching, counseling and coaching in movement and the healing arts.

A guiding support for processing grief…

BE HEALTHY HEALING AND WHOLE

Somatic Movement Therapy for Trauma, Loss and Grief.

To grieve is a very human experience. In many traditional cultures, there is an abundance of rituals and wisdom to guide us, but in our modern world, we have lost the art and knowledge of how to grieve.

Without guidance on how to be with our grief, many of us just fumble through. We may even add more challenges with bad habits that can affect our physical and mental health, long into the future.

To make things worse, society quickly forgets our tragedy. The compassion fades and if you haven’t moved on, you may start to feel judged. For many, it seems like there is an unspoken grief timeline that you are failing to keep up with.

Do you feel?

  • Forced to suppress your feelings of loss to fit back into your previous life.
  • Isolated, misunderstood or hurried to “get over it.”
  • A disconnection between mind and body.
  • The need to seek relief with drugs, alcohol, food, or exercise.
  • Angry, bitter, depressed, or numb with shock.

I understand grief and loss, and I am ready to help you through the depths of your loss.
I also offer profoundly supportive tools to guide you in the new world you have found yourself in.

Somatic Movement Therapy for Trauma, Grief or Loss - in Pioneer Valley and Online

My name is Donna Brooks, and for over 25 years, I have been helping people process grief because of traumas, loss of loved ones, illnesses such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke and MS, loss of body function or feelings of loss due to aging, climate change and covid.

I have grieved my own losses in life, including the sudden death of my 36-year-old son.

When my son died, I actually felt I was at a fork in the road… I could either collapse into unending suffering or find the richness of life in the shadows.

I chose the latter, my daily embodiment practise allows me to feel my emotions while also having my life.

For you, I combine this embodiment therapy practice with decades of experience, intuition and therapeutic techniques to help you integrate your experience of grief. It is gentle, compassionate, and liberating.

It may mean the difference between thriving or collapsing. For many of my clients, it is the first time they have allowed themselves to be truly present in body and mind.

Somatic movement therapy connects your body and brain. It is an experience of feeling alive, aware, present, and whole. It is gentle, powerful, grounding, and healing.

"Facing grief is not about ending the sadness, 
it is about allowing the grief to be present in your mind,
allowing the grief to be present in your body 
and allowing the grief to be present in your soul.
Only when we truly stop resisting and avoiding,
do we open the door to awakening."

- Donna Brooks

In my grief journey, I traveled through different states mentally, emotionally, and in my body. When my son died, the first state I encountered was a frozen, suspended reality. I was completely disoriented and felt detached from myself.

Now, I understand that this freeze response was my nervous system protecting me from the avalanche of feelings to come, and with the feelings came an activation of fight and flight. I wanted to jump out of my body or go into it so deeply that I could only tire out with extreme exercise.

Accepting, modulating, and recognizing this experience as part of my response to grief saved me. Since the death of my son, I have realized that my voice was crucial to my healing. Crying, wailing, and speaking about him keeps my emotions flowing to this day. It is important to remember that sadness is part of loss, but depression is not.

An embodiment practice coupled with the expression of sounds and emotions helps my sadness move and flow. It moves through me in waves.

Finally, the experience of stillness and space has been a profound healer for me. It allows me to feel connected to a greater unity - one that encompasses life and death. I have found that it is only by allowing the other stages to come and go that I deepen my access to this stillness.

You can have a full and happy life,
even while you experience grief. 
You can feel joy, even as you are suffering. 

Grief does not have to look a certain way. You can experience happiness and grief at the same time. With movement therapy, you will learn how to create the space for peace and joy to co-exist with the intense pain of loss and grief.

If you or someone close to you has had a loss, please reach out to me.
You can start with a discovery session...

Let’s see if we are a good fit.

Discovery session

  • One-on-one with Donna
  • Online worldwide via Zoom
  • In-person: Easthampton, MA

$140

Single Session

  • One-on-one with Donna
  • Online worldwide via Zoom
  • In-Person: Easthampton, MA

$100

5 Session Package

  • 5 sessions with Donna
  • Expires after 2 months
  • Save $20

$480

12 Session Package

  • 12 sessions over 12 weeks
  • Online or in Easthampton
  • Save $100!

$1100

"The body is the place, the only place, where we live —,
it is the seat of consciousness, without which there is nothing.
And yet we spend our lives turning away from this elemental fact — with distraction, with addiction, with the trance of busyness —
until suddenly something beyond our control —
a diagnosis, a heartbreak, a pandemic —
staggers us awake."

- Maria Popova

Frequently Asked Questions

Yoga and somatic movement therapy Western Massachusetts, MA & online

I offer yoga for grief and somatic movement therapy for trauma, grief and loss in Northampton, MA, servicing clients in Easthampton, Pioneer Valley, Amherst, South Hadley, Greenfield, Whately, Hatfield, Sunderland, Deerfield, Holyoke & Haydenville.

I also offer yoga therapy and somatic movement therapy online for clients nationwide via Zoom.

You can choose whether to meet in-person or online depending on your needs, comfort and location. 

What is embodiment therapy or somatic movement therapy?

“Somatic Movement Therapy” also known as “Embodiment Therapy”, combined with yoga therapy allows you to access wisdom stored in the body by freeing the body from stress, trauma, constraints and habitual tensions. These tensions are often created by adverse experiences, physical injuries, trauma, illness, grief, cultural and personal habits and even developmental stages that you may have skipped as a baby.

Embodiment therapy involves making intentional, gentle movements while focusing on the internal experience of the movement. This process unifies your body and mind and attunes you to your physical, emotional and mental needs.

It is a chance to relieve habitual and long-held blockages and constrictions, creating clarity and helping you make better choices about your well-being.

You will experience being alive, aware and present in your body. A way to think of it is… Embodiment is to the body what meditation is to the mind.

Embodiment therapy is a gentle yet effective healing modality and I specialize in working with:

  • Somatic movement therapy and yoga for grief and loss
  • Yoga therapy for Parkinsons Disease
  • Embodiment for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
  • Embodiment therapy for chronic pain relief naturally
How does somatic movement therapy work with talk therapy or grief counselling?

Somatic movement therapy allows clients to process information as a whole-body experience. As an embodiment expert, I bring the whole sensory embodiment process to allow clients to anchor themselves. Change happens in this space.

My clients report that this kind of somatic movement therapy work is the perfect companion to the therapy or grief counselling they are doing. Also that conscious embodiment helps bear the difficulty of facing and transcending the pain, strain, and trauma.

How do I prepare for somatic therapy for trauma, grief or loss?

For both online and in-person somatic therapy sessions, please wear comfortable clothing. If you can bring something that belonged to the deceased, please do.

For embodiment therapy online sessions, choose a room where you feel comfortable and safe, where you can talk freely and where you can be seated and work on the floor. 

Ideally, you will have a computer positioned with a microphone and camera so that we can see each other during the session.

What kind of loss do you work with?

I have helped people who are experiencing many types of loss throughout my career. 

  • Some grieving for loved ones who have passed away. 
  • Some who have a loss of function because of stroke or Parkinson’s disease. 
  • Some who have experienced a loss in relationships, loss of freedom or loss of youth. 
  • Some who are facing terminal illness or injuries. 

I have worked with people who have big difficulties - HIV-Aids (in the 1980"s), people who experience a traumatic brain injury, or who have met loss because of an accident, injury, aging or death.

It is important to know there is no right kind of loss. Loss affects us all in different ways, but the tools of embodiment and somatic therapy are universal in their ability to offer freedom and space inside of loss.

What is the experience of a somatic movement session with you?

Every client and movement therapy session is different because we go where you need to go on any given day.

I will gently guide you to open up to the impulses triggered by your grief - shock, collapse, freeze, fight, flight in your body. Together, we work to engage the visceral, nervous system, mental and emotional challenges of your trauma or loss. For some client sessions, this is based on conversation, embodied meditations, and listening. For others, we may focus on gentle movement.

But you will always experience being seen, understood and respected. My clients report our sessions to be comforting, insightful and give them space to “catch their bearings”.

What is unique about how you work with people?

Like everything else I do - it’s very gentle, and you set the pace. The first step is to feel safe and grounded. We focus on embodied safety rather than rational safety, which is a new concept for many people! Depending on the person, this can take time to develop and usually it is not a linear process.

I use a combination of gentle-yet-powerful techniques and focus on listening for where you are at right now. There is no prescription and no plan. We listen to your body. And you will learn how to listen to your body.

How emotional will somatic movement therapy sessions be?

It depends on the client. If emotion happens, it happens… it is experienced and released. There is no right way to be. We go where you need to go. Regardless of where the session takes us, by the end you will feel more centered and accepting. Many times, you may experience a sense of space, freedom, hope, or even joy.

You may also be more appreciative of life and have a better understanding of how your life, happiness and grief can all co-exist.

Will processing the grief shut the door on my loved one?

The quick answer is no! Somatic movement therapy for trauma, grief and loss actually allows you to experience the grief and experience the feelings that perhaps you were previously afraid to allow. It is deeply moving and extremely liberating and allows you to keep the bonds of love alive in a healthy way.

Many people repress the feelings of loss, and it gets pushed into the body. If you repress emotion for enough time, it can affect the health of your body significantly. It causes premature aging, chronic ailments and/or chronic pain.

I see many clients who come to me for chronic pain. Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, etc. But it is not uncommon when we start the work to find the old emotions from past grief arise. Emotions that never had the chance to be experienced and heal. Somatic therapy for trauma, grief and loss teaches you how to be with whatever comes up for you, even if it is the worst pain imaginable.