Andrew Harkin’s Body Centred Trauma Work – September 2016

Andrew Harkin is a clear thinking practitioner with decades of experience as a GP and psychotherapist in Ireland, Europe and America. He now works at a clinic in Western Australia. He is devoted to body centred practice, a bottom up collection of practices that can be used to complement existing top down therapies to support integration for clients who experience hyper or hypo arousal. Andrew is committed to helping clients learn more about their symptoms and use body work to help shift trauma. He works to help them expand their window of tolerance and increase the quality of their daily lived experience.

Andrew Harkin pictured here with RANT CEO, Marie Morrison

Andrew and Marie

He presented a 3 day training Darwin in early March 2016 Working with Trauma – An Advanced Therapeutic Workshop for Counsellors. On the first day Andrew covered the theoretical frameworks, understandings on which we could then base some more practice centred ideas. He is a unique practitioner in that he has the education, experience, and knowledge to scientifically prove why and how previously thought ‘alternative’ therapies including tapping, meditation and mindfulness tangibly help clients. He skilfully lead us through exercises we could practice first for ourselves, then with our clients.

As a body centred trauma practitioner, his focus is on symptoms and evidence. His favourite question is How do you know that? He then investigates further…What in your body tells you? Where exactly do you feel it? How does it feel? What would you describe it as? Pain, emptiness, pressure? Heavy or light? dark or bright? Round or square? Smooth or rough? In this way, he helps the client very specifically describe the sensation in the body where the trauma is being held. This awareness helps the body begin to know how to heal itself. The body work can help the client to start to integrate the traumatic experience without having to talk about the trauma itself.

Andrew is a charismatic and dynamic presenter with a humour all his own, from fire fighting stories to bird metaphors. Clinical staff attending said the training was “inspirational” and exceeded their expectations. Participants said they enjoyed the opportunity to look at trauma through a body centred lens. Useful learning included the biology of trauma, symptom tracking, mindfulness, experiential exercises and the window of tolerance as a tool for work with clients. One participant noted

“I will pay more attention to what is happening in my body as well as the body in front of me in the counselling room.”

In addition to relevant theory, the training was full of practical tips and suggestions for ways to work with clients living with the effects of trauma. Clinical staff spoke of deep insights and a fresh understanding of the value of body work. Many expressed their enthusiasm for Andrew to come back to present phase 2 work for us. Bringing Andrew to Darwin to share his knowledge with us was a valuable exercise and we would recommend Andrew Harkin to any other Relationships Australia.