Episode 169 Integrating Trauma-Informed Yoga & Story Work For Healing In Holistic Counseling: Interview With Jenna Little

Feb 21, 2024

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What is trauma-informed yoga? How can story work be a therapeutic tool for overcoming trauma and personal struggles?

MEET Jenna Little

Jenna Little is a Somatic Therapist, trauma-informed Yoga Teacher, and Registered Dietitian who has a passion for integrative and holistic healing. She blends many modalities for a unique embodied healing process that supports and empowers clients to come home to their bodies, souls, spirit, and story for healing, wholeness, and freedom. She works with individuals and offers several groups and yoga classes including her signature Yoga For Healing intensive. She finds meaning in raising her 3 daughters, running her business, and balancing her sacred work in the world.

Find out more at Jenna Little and connect with Jenna on Instagram


  • What is Story Work? 3:00
  • What is trauma-informed yoga? 6:45
  • Integrating story work & other modalities 20:00
  • What are the benefits of starting an online course? 21:10

What Is Story Work?

  • How do yoga and story work interconnect?
  • The importance of going back to the beginning of your story
  • Psychodynamic therapy dynamic and somatic therapy
  • Using movement as your storyteller

What Is Trauma-Informed Yoga

  • The importance of giving your client autonomy
  • What is invitational language?
  • Finding a pace that allows you to stay connected with yourself
  • Integrating yoga into clinical sessions
  • Finding where your client is in their story

Integrating Story Work & Other Modalities

  • Educating clients through psychoeducation
  • What is the Window of Tolerance?
  • The importance of skill building with clients
  • Integrating nutrition with clients
  • The impact of integrating multiple modalities in session

Connect With Me

Instagram @holisticcounselingpodcast


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The Art of Breath: How to Integrate Breathwork Techniques for Effective Therapy Sessions with Chris McDonald, LCMHCS

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Jenna Little and connect with Jenna on Instagram


Chris McDonald: Did you know that our bodies tell a story about our trauma? In this episode, we'll guide you through the holistic synergy of trauma informed yoga and story work. We'll explore how the blend of yoga's mind body connection and story work can be the catalyst to profound healing. Get ready to unravel the stories you tell yourself and be open to the therapeutic embrace of yoga.

Fostering a deeper connection to your inner self. Tune in for insights and practical tips that will inspire you to integrate more of these holistic modalities into your practice. Don't miss it on today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast, where mind, body, and story converge for a transformative healing.

Here we go. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, Licensed Therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. And thank you listeners for joining me today. This is going to be an amazing episode. Today, we're going to delve into the realms of trauma informed yoga and story work, a combination that we have not addressed yet on the podcast. We're going to be looking at this powerful synergy between these therapeutic modalities.

And our expert today is going to guide us through the intricate dance of mind body connection, weaving together the ancient wisdom of yoga with the therapeutic power of story work. And together we'll explore how these practices create a safe and nurturing space for individuals to process and release trauma.

To help us on this journey today is Jenna Little. Jenna is a somatic therapist, trauma informed yoga teacher, and registered dietician who has a passion for integrative and holistic healing. She blends many modalities for a unique embodied healing process that supports and empowers clients to come into their body's souls, spirit, and story for healing.

Wholeness and freedom. Welcome to the holistic counseling podcast,

Jenna Little: Jenna. Thank you for having me. Can you

Chris McDonald: share how you became interested in trauma informed yoga

Jenna Little: and story work? I became interested in trauma informed yoga as I was actually a student and going through my own yoga practice and realizing that what I was doing in my own personal healing and grief work was showing up on my yoga mat.

And I found that to be incredibly helpful for me to process and to understand myself and understand what I was moving through in my emotions. And so I started to explore more of these pathways of how do our mind and body connect. And what was, I was really just thinking like what's happening inside of me while I'm in my yoga practice and realizing I would go to therapy and have.

Conversations and awareness is around my story. And then I was realizing how much of it was showing up on my yoga mat in my body and really began to get curious around how these connect and what are some of the modalities to help me further heal and grow in both areas of my life personally, and then also my yoga

Chris McDonald: practice.

Yes. And what about the story work? Is that something you've always used with clients?

Jenna Little: So, no, it wasn't a framework that I had. And what I realized, yeah, what I realized was going through my own personal counseling and therapeutic journey was that the thing I was processing in the present moment was actually something very old and something that had been with me my whole life and having more of a psychodynamic approach to the therapy experience.

Going back to the roots of my story and like how things began to come together. Belief systems come together and just even my identity, how my identity was formed and how that came together was a story I had been living for a long time and wanted to understand what is that trajectory? What does that lineage look like of going back to the beginning?

of the story of where it began and then how I arrived in that present moment of healing. And then the way that I use that with story work with the body was I found while I was on my yoga mat that my body was also telling the story. And as I connected to my body, you know, different parts of my body were holding different parts of my story.

And so it was this really organic process of doing psychodynamic therapy along with. A somatic practice of my yoga practice that I started to realize there's a story happening that's congruent in the therapy room and then also on the yoga mat. And that's kind of what I call story work. There is the, the form of narrative therapy.

That is more write out your story, name your story with, you know, through the lens of writing. But for me, mine came through the lens of movement. And so using movement as my. As a storyteller,

Chris McDonald: this is so unusual. I told Jennifer, we started that I had to look it up. I was like, I don't know what she means by story.

How am I going to ask her questions? I don't know what it means, but yeah, I really appreciate you getting clarity on that. Cause that, that to me is just fascinating to think about the story. Like, what do we embody and what is inside of us? Right. Yeah.

Jenna Little: And it really started to make sense as I went through yoga teacher training.

So all of this was happening before I became a yoga teacher. And so Oh, okay. Yeah, and even before I was a therapist, so this was really just me as a client sitting on the therapy couch and then me as a student going to the yoga studio and studying my experience of what am I experiencing? What is happening in both places and how are they connecting?

And I found that they were very complimentary. And so as I was able to name things in the therapy room, I was able to feel them and process them on my yoga mat. And so that then became the fuel that. lit my spirit up to go become a yoga teacher. At that time, I was already teaching group fitness and had a business as a dietitian.

My first career is a dietitian and nutrition in the nutrition world. And so I knew I wanted to add to that. And so yoga became the next step for me, adding to that practice and When I was studying yoga, I realized, Oh, they've been teaching this stuff for a long time. This is ancient in some ways that our body can hold our story and our body can hold emotions and our body can hold different layers of wisdom to help us heal.

And so I started to dive into those ancient practices as a yoga teacher, which helped clarify for me, there was a path of trauma informed yoga where we could really bring our trauma through the body and allowing it to release and move out versus getting stuck in our systems. So

Chris McDonald: how would you define trauma informed yoga?


Jenna Little: so I use the definition around trauma that says too much, too soon, too fast, meaning that our systems are overwhelmed and can't respond in a, in a way that leaves us empowered. And so trauma informed yoga is a way to use yoga where the client has power or the client has choice. The client has autonomy and independence.

I studied with David Emerson's work, trauma sensitive yoga. And so really allowing the client to explore the practice, even in how we teach. We don't command, we invite. And so really using invitational language that helps the client feel empowered and in tune with what's happening in their body. And so it's a different approach versus a traditional yoga teacher approach, which is command centered and kind of like expert top down centered versus curiosity

Chris McDonald: centered.

And I think it's slowing it down too, isn't it? It's not always, I don't know the yoga that you do, but it's really, for me, it's like nervous system regulation too, and just really slowing things down, not, not going to like a hundred sun salutations or something like that.

Jenna Little: Right. Yes, absolutely. And because we, you know, we're going so fast, we can't really.

Feel right, feel the nuances. Yeah. And I have taught all different types of yoga, so I do appreciate a variety of practices, but from a nervous system standpoint, we have to go at a pace that we can stay connected to ourselves. So if you can go fast and stay connected, that might be your sweet. spot. But I think for most of us, as we're learning to tune into ourselves, we have to go a little bit slower to feel.

Chris McDonald: So I'm curious how you integrate yoga with clinical sessions. What does that look like for

Jenna Little: you? Yeah. So my work as a therapist, I do somatic therapy. So body oriented processing, and I help explain that to the client. Cause a lot of clients are not familiar with even the word somatic. So I just helped them realize that our bodies have a lot of data and a lot of information.

And I really enjoy helping clients learn and feel and hear what is coming up and what's happening in the body. So the way that I bring yoga into a session might be some breath work, some mindfulness, some orienting to the ground, grounding practices, centering practices. And so in the beginning, I keep it pretty invitational and organic.

We'll be talking. And then all of a sudden I'll say, are you curious to explore here? And They'll say yes or no, and then we will move toward a practice of, you know, breath, work, meditation or grounding. And so a lot of nervous system work happens in those spaces, and it's really organic. It's not scripted.

It's really on the spot, me and the client working together to explore what's coming up for them. And so typically, especially when I'm working with trauma. We want to create a safe space first and a safe container. And so a lot of times I'll work with orienting them to what it's safe and what is available in the present moment, whether it's in my office or a happy place or in their body or memory.

So we'll just kind of create that container together to then feel into that and set the tone for that first. And then we'll move toward processing trauma or emotion or beliefs or memories, whatever is coming up for them.

Chris McDonald: So what, what kind of issues do you work on? Is it just trauma or do you work with other things, other diagnosis or problems?

Jenna Little: Yeah, I do a lot of, um, trauma work, a lot of complex trauma and developmental trauma, attachment work. I do a lot of relational processing. So helping people process their current relationships, attachment work, whether it's in marriage or family of origin work, processing their family of origin stories, I also do grief.

You know, I always say with trauma comes grief. So if you're a trauma therapist, you're a grief therapist, they go hand in hand. So I do a lot of grief work. And then I also do a lot of growth work with clients who are really wanting to step into their competency, their confidence. I call it adulthood work.

So really helping them step into that stage of adulthood where they still got

Chris McDonald: so much in common. I do a lot of that too. I was like, when Jenna reached out, I was like, Oh my gosh, there's someone else that's similar

Jenna Little: to me. Yeah, because it's like, I feel like I do the bookends, right? Like I do the psychodynamic approach, the early.

Stages. And then we also do the present day. So there's a lot that happens in the middle for clients, but I feel like I catch them in the beginning where what happened in the root and then what's happening right now, present day. And then I've learned and found that if we can hold those bookends, a lot of times things clear up in the middle, pretty organically.

So a lot of times I'm holding both. Both of those pieces for clients and I found that that's where they need a lot of containment to push into the safe container there to process to feel and then to also reach and grow for whatever it is that that is a full life for them, helping them live fully alive.

It's kind of my mission. And so it's. You know, they get to define what is a full life look like, what is being fully alive look like where we're not half alive or halfway ourselves, but fully our authentic

Chris McDonald: self. So how does it integrate? I'm just trying to picture how this works with story work and is it cues that you give them or how does that I'm trying to understand like clearly how you do this.

Jenna Little: So I, I can get really like logical with it and I will have clients do a timeline. Oh, okay. Okay. Yeah. Like I'll get really logical with it and say, timeline your story. That might be like step one of homework or two. Sometimes I'll give them some homework. If they don't want, sometimes that's hard, right?

That can be hard to go into all of that. So if they're not interested in that, I'll begin to timeline their story and my own kind of set of notes so I can start to track. And so it could be as simple as me starting to really get a picture for the story they've lived. Whether that is a story of abuse, a story of harm, a story of abandonment, a story of not being seen, being misunderstood, being forgotten, being exiled, lonely.

So I'll start to see these themes arrive from what they're telling me. And so as they're talking, I'll start to see the themes. Oh, this is a theme of abandonment. This is a theme of not being understood. This is a theme of unprocessed grief. Nobody met you in your pain or no one taught you how to feel pain.

So I'll just start to see themes arrive. And so through those themes, I will then invite them. Hey, does this, does this feel like what you've carried? Or does this feel like something that's been familiar to you your whole life? Or is this new? So I kind of gauge, like, am I, am I in the right zone? And then they'll say, yes, and I'll, this has been with me.

And I'll say, well, how long has it been with you? How, like, how long have you been in this place? Or how long have you known this about yourself? And they, they might say my whole life or since I was in elementary school. And so from that place, now we're building the story. Now we're building context for like, what have you been going through?

That hasn't been named, supported, or felt, or processed. And if we can understand that, then I then begin to see. Can you say that again? What has not been named. Named, okay. Named, understood, felt, or processed.

Chris McDonald: Named, understood, felt. I'm writing it down. Felt or processed. Okay. I think that's helpful for listeners too as they're working with clients.

Those are some really helpful areas to really get into with story work.

Jenna Little: Yeah, because if we begin to understand what's not been named, understood, felt or processed, we're gonna then have a lot of clues around what the nervous system is holding and how the nervous system has had to orient to protect itself and how the or the nervous system hasn't been able to co regulate.

Because it's, it's, it's had to stay in activation or, you know, fight or flight or fall or freeze. So I use a lot of polyvagal theory in my work and kind of assessing. Yeah, I knew that. I know. Yes, you got this. And so just assessing like, okay, well, if I feel misunderstood. What is my response going to be is to either like puff up and perform, or I'm going to shrink back and hide.

I'm not going to be able to come into my authenticity and into my voice and into my knowing, because I got to defend. Something, right? So that then helps me see how their defense structures got wired in the body to then move toward the body. So then from that place, I would then move toward where do you know that from in your body?

How is your body telling you that you've been misunderstood? Or when I say the word misunderstood, what do you feel in your body? So then I'll start to bring the body into it and start to weave this organic conversation between the head and the heart or the head and the gut. Right. A lot of times we're working with the head, the heart, the gut, the three big centers.

A lot of times we'll know things in our head or we'll, we'll know things in our heart, but we rarely let all three of them talk. And so a lot of times, Oh, I love

Chris McDonald: that. Rarely let all three of them talk.

Jenna Little: Yeah. And so a lot of times I'll say, well, okay, your head knows that. Now, can you let your heart know that?

Okay. Now, can you also bring your gut into it? What is your gut thing? What do you feel right? And so I'll start to build this line of energy of embodied connection back home to the center of them where there's congruence. And where there's congruence, so we can process and put things to rest or they can digest it.

So there's a, there's a literal sense of my heart has to feel it, but then there's also a sense of my gut has to process and digest. And this is where a lot of things get stuck for people. You know, I work with the energy centers. I work with the chakra system, and I think you might also work with the chakra system.

And so I have found in my work, you know, we are often up in our heads. We might even be in our throats and we might even feel our hearts, but to get embodied in our gut and our pelvic bowl and our pelvic floor, and then also in our roots, our feet is often the hardest. And so I'll work usually from the top down, depending on what's available in the client.

And we'll usually map out. Okay, well, you're right here at your heart, but you're not able to access your gut yet. Let's begin to get into your gut and notice what that feels like. So we'll kind of build this map of the body and where they have access to and where their story is coming from, where their emotions are coming from.

And then how do we bring this integrative, holistic, whole body approach? to the story and to the healing process. Building

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Jenna Little: That's incredible. Yeah. And you know, it's wild because I feel like what I really gathered, have gathered is, is what I learned and put together in myself and my own healing journey. And so. I've studied, you know, trauma for many years and studied different ways of working with trauma through trauma informed yoga.

And, you know, Peter Levine and Vessel Vanderkolk, all these big names that we learned from, but then at some point we have to kind of blend our own like integrating. Yeah. Yeah. We have to kind of make our own medicine. And so for me as a yoga teacher and then becoming a therapist. It was just this really like integrative space of just pulling all this wisdom together.

And sometimes I was like, am I even doing therapy, right? Is this therapy, you know, and, and then people were like, people were experiencing freedom and release and, and embodiment and feeling empowered in themselves. I also do a lot of voice work, helping people come into their authentic voice. And expressing their voice.

So I would, I would see the shifts in my office. I would see them get to experience magic. Yeah. Yeah. More freedom and more expression. Even, even in like anger, especially anger, like getting to be angry, getting to be safe and express your anger or your sadness or your grief or your fear. You know, as I just kept integrating and staying curious with clients and really trusting them with their story, which I think is huge is to to know that our clients are very wise and they are the experts of their lives.

Not us, we get to co create something really beautiful together in that therapeutic space. So it's been so much fun to weave it all

Chris McDonald: together. Yeah, sounds like it and yeah, it sounds like definitely it's all integrated and that whole body approach. Do you integrate the polyvagal ladder in with this? How do you do?

I'm just curious. How do you do that?

Jenna Little: So I like to do some psychoeducation with clients usually in the very beginning, but then I keep it really organic. I have Deb Dana's flip chart. I don't know if you follow her work. I've

Chris McDonald: heard of that. Yeah. Does that, is that


Jenna Little: to you? That's awesome. That's. It's helpful because clients can get a visual.

And so I'll pull out the flip chart and there's a ladder there, uh, dorsal shut down, fight or flight, and then also safe and connected. And so it kind of maps out the three different stages of the polyvagal theory and helps clients identify where they are. So I might know where they are, right. Just by kind of talking to them, cause I know the theory, but they don't.

So I'll bring the flip chart out as I'm teaching. And then I'll say, where do you think you are up here? And they'll name. Where they are, and they will process that and talk about it. So I'll do a little bit of psychoeducation that way. I also teach the window of tolerance, which is similar to that and helping them understand, you know, what are those edges where they're kind of getting out of their window of tolerance and feeling a little bit like more activation than that.

What they want are more shut down than what they want. And helping them have their own language around it. And it's different for everybody. Everyone kind of picks up on different parts that resonate with them. And so then I just use their language, like whatever works for them. I just then kind of take that and run with it instead of being a little bit clinical with it.

I try to stay more relational with it. And then also we'll map out like what. When you're in that place, what do you feel? And so somebody might say, okay, well, it's like I'm walking a tightrope or I'm walking on eggshells. Okay. Well, what happens in your body when you're in that place? I can't breathe. My head gets dizzy.

I start to feel light. Okay. So what do you think you need then? How do, how do we get out of that place and like into a more grounded and connected place? And so then we'll kind of build some skills and tools around that, around shifting when they're in that place that they can practice outside of the office, because we can regulate in the office, but can they regulate and do they know what to do outside of the office?

Yeah. So I do a lot of skill building in the office to help clients have resources outside. And again, it's a practice. I help them understand like, this is just like your yoga practice. It takes time and we have to practice our practice to build mastery in our nervous system. Ooh,

Chris McDonald: to build mastery. Wow.

That's empowering. Yes.

Jenna Little: Yes. Yes. So yeah. And then I have my yoga for healing intensive, which is this became my first baby is what I call it before I became a therapist. I was teaching yoga and building an experience for people to bring. themselves, their story, their pain to the yoga mat and in a safe community to process and heal.

And so I'm still teaching those intensives. It's called yoga for healing. We use yoga, yoga, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality to really empower clients to come fully alive from the inside out. So that's another place that clients get to meet and join in a group setting with me and really practice this work.


Chris McDonald: So how long is an intensive? So the

Jenna Little: intent sends are three days. Two and a half to three days. I do them every weekend in a yoga studio, and it's usually seven to eight people. I do have the groups. Usually it's mostly women that come that I've worked with. I have had all men's group before, and I have had blended groups.

And I found that working with trauma, it was helpful to name. Like kind of the space, depending on the types of trauma that we're showing up, but it's beautiful seven, eight people. And then we journey together for the weekend and we go through the body, through the chakra system, through the story, through trauma and grief.

I do teaching along the way. Um, and it's basically this journey of them meeting themselves on the mat and meeting different parts of themselves. That are wanting to heal and to grow and then integrate into, um, the present day. That's

Chris McDonald: so cool. I can tell your face lights up as you say that. So I know this is, this is your, in your glory with that, aren't you?

Jenna Little: Yeah, it's very, very sacred work. It's very sacred, very special. I've been leading it since 2018. So I've done 20 plus groups at this point around it. And every time I lead a group, it still kind of just takes my breath away. To watch it unfold and to see the journey and the courage and the healing that people get to experience.

It's pretty profound. Um, so it's very sacred. Yeah.

Chris McDonald: Can you share some successes you've had with

Jenna Little: your approach? Yeah. So one of my favorites was actually in my first group ever that I taught. And this is when you're like, Your kind of question, like, is this going to work? Is this really going to, you know, people are going to make a difference in people's lives.

And there was a client who came in, was going through a lot of relational trauma, betrayal, trauma, grief and loss around marriage, and also was having a hard time. With food and nutrition and digestion. And I'm a dietitian. So this is kind of part of my wisdom. I guess you could say that I have is understanding how the body responds to things like that, especially around food.

So she was having a hard time and couldn't eat, couldn't digest with having lots of autoimmune issues and flare ups and problems. And so her therapist actually recommended her to come in and. And do this work with me. And so as she went through it, she actually was in a group that let once a week for six weeks.

So the format used to be a six weeks group, and then I changed it to a three day intensive, but in the six weeks group, she did it. And she came in, stayed curious, connected to her body, did her healing work, did a lot of grief, did a lot of empowerment work coming back into her body, owning it as hers. And by the end of the group, her nutrition and autoimmune stuff had gone away.

Amazing. Yeah. She was like. Oh, my gosh, I could eat at my kid's birthday party. I could eat birthday cake for the first time in years. Like she, she was not even able to have like gluten and pizza and just some normal things that were that had been taken off the table and her gut inflammation had settled down and gone away.

And so. Yeah. So speaking to how our body holds our story, it's like our gut can only process so much. Right. And it can't keep taking in things. And, you know, our gut is our first brain. And so, you know, clearing out that space and being kind to that space as we heal. It's really, really beautiful. So that's one of my favorites that happened in one of my earliest groups that has just stayed with me just to talk about it.

as a testament to the power of the mind body connection.

Chris McDonald: And I guess just backtracking just you have nutrition too as a background. So I love that you can integrate that as well. So is this something you can integrate with clients as well? Usually is the nutrition part.

Jenna Little: Yes, I do. I work with eating disorder recovery a lot.

I help people with their relationship with food. So I don't do any. Meal planning or dietetic work around like breaking down the nutrients, I refer them out to a dietitian, but I can help them with their relationship with food and the patterns and the behaviors that go around the eating food process. Um, and I do a lot of that with clients because it comes up with trauma.

It comes up with grief. It comes up with identity work. And so, you know, eating is a big part of our world. And so it is for

Chris McDonald: sure. And that makes sense. Why you had the head, heart and gut. Yes.

Jenna Little: Yep. You got it. Yeah. So yes, that's 1 of my favorite success stories there. And then another 1 of my favorite stories is I have clients that come to this work with spiritual trauma where they have felt judged or misunderstood or traumatized by spirituality in different ways.

And they come in and this has a spiritual component to it. And come in and find their own authentic connection to spirit and to their higher power and their source. And so, you know, just speaking to the range of work that's come through, I've had anything from trauma and grief, betrayal, trauma, relational trauma, child abuse, eating disorder to spiritual trauma.

And just, again, we have the right condition set for us and we have an environment that's safe and loving and gives us our power back and empowers us to tune in to what we want and need to clear out. We find, we find what we've been looking for. And so this particular client was able to reconnect to her own spirit and had said, like, it felt like she was drinking fresh water and just like nourishing, you know, back to like fresh water and that she hadn't been able to access that part of herself and a very, very long time, decades.

It's just really beautiful to see and to watch the impact. And these are clients I work with. So they they'll come in for 3 days, but then I'll work with him for a couple of years right outside of the intensive. So I really get to see the long term sustainable impact where it's not just a weekend high of like, oh, I feel better.

It's like, no, these are changes that are sustained in their life and I see it play out. So. I tend to work with clients for several years. And so that's really, it's really beautiful to see the trajectory that they then embark on. And they're out in the healing. Can you share

Chris McDonald: a favorite yoga practice you like to use with clients?


Jenna Little: love visualization. I love visualization. I feel like I use that the most. I love grounding work, so of course we'll do grounding, but I

Chris McDonald: could tell you, it was hard for you to decide on one.

Jenna Little: Yeah, I, I tend to, in the therapy room, I tend to often go towards visualization a lot. And I think that's because I'm a visual person.

And so my system kind of naturally goes there. And so people often connect to a visual of the beach or the ocean, the mountains, a place in nature. And so that's one of my favorite skills is to be able to find that meditative space. And then to, to invite a visual to meditate with and to be with

Chris McDonald: there. So you, you use meditation as well with clients?

Jenna Little: Yeah, a lot of guided meditation and it's very organic. I do a lot of energy work, which I'm starting to just name, be more explicit with. I haven't called myself an energy work. Yeah. Come on out of that holistic closet. I know, right? I'm like, you know what? I really just do a lot of energy work. Um, is what I'm doing.

And I can often feel intuitively where clients are stuck or blocked. And so then I will just, I will just stay curious with that. I never assume that I know what's happening directly, but I can feel into the space. And so from that place, I will then. Either go into a meditation, go into a queuing breath, go into grounding based on what I'm sensing in the room.

I also work with sound healing. And so now I'm working with sound bowls and Koshi bells. And so I've been bringing in, I've been bringing in sound healing as well into my work with clients. And so when we're in that meditative space, If there's a sense of energy coming in, especially some trauma energy, I will then use sound to support that and to help the client titrate that out through the nervous system.

I also work with the safe and sound protocol, the SSP works. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that, but I do that in a group setting. So that's a lot of sound and vibrational energy healing. I work with that in groups, another group that I lead, but individual work, I've been bringing in sound healing as well, which has been really cool for

Chris McDonald: clients.

Yeah. Imagine. So, and I feel like all of these holistic modalities too, it kind of makes therapy more interesting to, for clients, I know for me, cause I have a. holistic therapist that I see. And it just, it kind of like brings a whole different energy in a good way. It really does. Instead of just talk therapy, which I know you and I were very different.

We expand our horizons on lots of different ways, but I guess, have you seen it though with holistic modalities, the impact with your clients

Jenna Little: overall? Yeah. And the clients that seek me out traditionally Are already in either a yoga practice, or they already crave that integrative, holistic medicine somewhere in their life.

And they're looking for a practitioner that's aligned or they've already done a lot of talk therapy and it's gotten them a little bit of places, but not more. And so a lot of times people are like, I'm stuck or I can't. Get to this next layer that they're wanting to get to. And I even have therapists that are, um, are colleagues and friends that are talk based therapists.

And they'll They'll know that there's stuff in the body that they can't get to. So then they'll refer them to me and I'll be like us, just the somatic therapist, and I'll do the somatic work with them. And then sometimes they stay with their primary therapist. Sometimes they wrap up their work with them and transition to me.

So I work really organically depending on the client's needs, but yes, clients really love it and they're always really grateful for having permission to like. Come back into their body and to know their body in a different

Chris McDonald: way. Yeah. So important. Cause like you said, I think we do work with the same kinds of clients because a lot of mine are the same and that they've tried traditional or, you know, they can only CBT so far and it's just not helpful.

Plus they have a lot of spiritual or holistic beliefs and. That, and I had a client recently say, you know, I never felt safe to talk about. She has a lot of intuition about my intuitive gifts and I do now. And I was like, Oh, yeah, but we need, they need those spaces. Don't they?

Jenna Little: And just good models, right?

Like models that like we all have gifts and we all have, you know, our own ways of connecting to our healing journeys and there's no one size fits all really. So there's many approaches. I say it takes a village to heal, just like it takes a village to raise. kids and raise a family. Like, so I help my clients understand, like there's a village to be had and felt around you.

And what does that look like to build it and to, to create that for yourself? So really helping them come into more of the communal healing process as well. Community is a big part of the work I do and helping clients feel held and surrounded and supported relationally is essential. I think. To their nervous systems

Chris McDonald: and so for the intensive.

So do they do interact with each other in there or how does

Jenna Little: that work? Yeah, so I call it the sacred circle. We sit in a circle and a yoga room on our mats and with our blankets and bolsters and for three days, we, they will, they get to know each other and really, really beautiful ways. Sometimes they know more about their.

Each other's grief and story than they even do what they do for a living. So it's like a reverse way of meeting somebody. They usually all show up as strangers and then we sit in a circle and they do interact with each other. So we do yoga, we do individual self reflection and guided journaling. And then we do group processing and I do, I facilitate the group process.

So I teach them how to connect to each other. Kind of like guidelines for connection in that space, but then I work with them through more somatic therapy lens, but then I also weave it in with group connection. So the group comes along for their journey and becomes, they become like mirrors for the client that's processing.

And they mirror back and reflect back what they're hearing and saying as a way to deepen into the work. That is so

Chris McDonald: cool. I just got to say, but you seem so confident in all that you're doing, and it's so innovative too. What would you say to other therapists who may be in the holistic closet and struggling to really embrace any of these holistic gifts they want to bring into the

Jenna Little: world?

Yeah, I think for me, I would encourage each person to tune into what works for them. I think when we have been the client and the student, we have a different level of knowing. And there's a different level of confidence that comes through when you have felt it and experienced it yourself. So if you're unsure or you're doubting an intervention or practice or a methodology, work with it, like be the student, find somebody who's doing it and sit under that and see what that feels like to receive and to explore and to connect with.

And so there's so many modalities out there. It can be a little bit overwhelming to find what's yours. It's almost like picking off the shelf. So you might just want to start with what feels interesting and curious and then see if you can explore that as a student. I think personally, that's the best way we learn is experiential knowledge versus book knowledge or cognitive knowledge.

I think experiencing something and moving it through your system, especially as a holistic and integrative provider is essential to the work that you bring to the world.

Chris McDonald: Wow. Thank you for that. And I know you have some other community events coming up. I don't know if you want to share those as well.


Jenna Little: I would love to. So I teach yoga once a month locally, um, in the Triangle area in North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina. I also do my intensives twice a year, twice a year in North Carolina. So I have one coming up in Wilmington in April, the end of April, we'll spend three days at the beach and a beautiful yoga studio there.

And so that is. Got available spots for anyone interested in doing their own body work, their own story work and their own healing. And then I also have some online groups that I run that people can find out about through my website.

Chris McDonald: And what's the best way for our listeners to find you?

Jenna Little: They can either reach out to me directly through my website at Jenna little.

com. I'm also very active on Instagram at Jenna little wellness.

Chris McDonald: Great. And what that'll be in the show notes as well. So people can access that there, but thank you so much for coming on the holistic counseling podcast. This has been great, Jenna.

Jenna Little: Thank you so much for having me.

Chris McDonald: I'm so excited to take your yoga class.

Jenna Little: Yay. I can't wait.

Chris McDonald: All right. And listeners, thank you for tuning in today. Do you always put others needs before your own? As counselors, we often prioritize the needs of others, but my book, Self Care for the Counselor, is your invitation to turn that nurturing energy inward. Discover practical self care rituals, ways to upgrade your daily transitions, and small gifts you can give yourself designed to replenish your energy and cultivate resilience.

It's not just a book, it's a companion for those moments when you need a gentle reminder to prioritize your own well being. So, go hcpodcast. org forward slash self care. That's hcpodcast. org forward slash self care. And once again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love until next time, take care.

Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal financial counseling or any other kind of professional advice. If you need a professional, please find the right one for you.

The holistic counseling podcast. is proudly part of the SiteCraft Network.

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Self-Care for the Counselor - a holistic guide for helping professionals by Christine McDonald , MS,NCC,LPCS