Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathryn Chaya Lubow.
Kathryn Chaya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
A Cincinnati native, I spent four years living abroad in Rio de Janeiro and London, until I settled down in LA with my husband in 2004. I had PTSD from a near death experience as a passenger in a car that drove off a pier and had been scouring the globe to find ways of healing, whether through music, dance, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, therapy or other alternative therapies.
After my daughter was born in 2009, I decided to return back to school for psychology but wasn’t sure what path to pursue as I knew I was not interested in traditional talk therapy. An intuitive pull urged me forward that there was another way to heal than I had ever been exposed to before.
One of my first classes at graduate school introduced me to the ways that trauma gets stuck in the brain and in the body. I realized that as a result of the car accident, my nervous system had gotten stuck on high in the fight/flight/freeze response. I was then exposed to two approaches- EMDR and Somatic Experiencing- which could help me to desensitize and reprocess traumatic memories as well as regulate my nervous system. In essence, I could go from feeling chronically anxious and on high alert, to feeling more calm, resilient and connected. After experiencing EMDR and SE as a client, I became trained in both of them and now focus on both in my psychotherapy practice.
Hand in hand with going to school, raising my daughter, and getting licensed, I have also been committed to my meditation and compassion practices. It has been a challenge in the sense that I couldn’t just run off on retreat like I used to do before having a child. It has been wildly important for me to carve out ways to also practice informally, stealing small moments during the day to reconnect.
This balance also inspired me to create a podcast with my friend Ruby Mercado, Awakenings In Real Life, where we interviewed other women and mothers about the challenges and awakenings they experienced in the midst of their day to day life.
Has it been a smooth road?
If it was a smooth road, I’m not sure there would be much of a story to tell. Part of my inspiration in life is to forge gold from the coal, to transform pain to create something meaningful. A true awakening in real life. Driving off a pier at 19 years old certainly set my life on a different course than I could have predicted. It has been a hero’s journey in the sense that I view have come to view challenging events as an opportunity for growth, and it also expands my compassion for others going through similar pain.
The recent loss of a dear friend opens my heart to all those who grieve and wake up to find their world shattered. Our human hearts are fragile as well as indestructible, and the pain that we experience need not be shied away from. It can become a doorway which opens us up to a much vaster experience of life. However, I also learned that we don’t need to stick our hand straight into the fire to heal our pain. When we reprocess trauma in little doses at a time, and with the help of another person to witness it, it isn’t as painful as you might imagine. In fact, it can feel quite liberating!
I also find that I often encounter clients that are going through something similar to what I may have experienced in the past, and part of my own healing then is able to benefit another in their journey. One of those themes is around the struggle with being an empath. I tend to resonate and literally feel another’s suffering in my own body which can then lead to burnout. It has been and continues to be a practice over time (one I’m still learning about) to rest in the seat of compassion, rather than empathy. A place where I can wish for someone to be free of their suffering, but I am not “feeling with” them, or taking on their pain. The weight of the pain of this world is a massive one, and sometimes setting boundaries becomes an important lesson in this process. For empaths, we must often learn when to say no, and when to recognize when we are taking on too much and heading down that fast road to burnout. Creating space where I can slow down and recharge, even in small moments, has a ripple effect which has been an important skill to cultivate, especially as a parent and working mom.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am an integrative mind body psychotherapist that utilizes mindfulness and compassion based approaches informed by Somatic Experiencing and EMDR.
EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and Somatic Experiencing are both methods for processing trauma. With EMDR, we use bilateral stimulation through eye movements, theratapper (see photo), or headphones, to access memory networks in which trauma is stored so that they can be reprocessed. Somatic Experiencing facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses, such as fight, flight and freeze which allows for a release of energy that has been stored in the body.
In addition to reprocessing trauma, both of these modalities, Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, also helps us to forge new neural pathways which can foster more mindfulness, compassion, well being and joy. Even though we are hard wired to focus on the negatives, we can rewire our brain and body by highlighting our resources, or positive experiences. It is a skill that we can build over time and I have watched countless clients step out of their old, habitual patterns through reprocessing past trauma. This can create an internal freedom as we may respond differently to stress, and make new, more resilient choices. For example, instead of getting sucked into a fight with a friend or coworker, we may pause first and recognize how we could respond differently, perhaps by not taking their behavior so personally. We can remember that everyone is doing the best they can, and we can only control our own reactions. I have also found that integrating some form of meditation with the therapy process, to assist clients with the skills in learning to understand their own minds, their beliefs, their past as well as their reactions, so that they can respond to challenging events with more flexibility, choice and compassion.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There are always new modalities arising within the field of psychotherapy as well as new research arising in the fields of neuroscience. I am hopeful that we will continue to see a rise in a mind body approach to therapy, and to move beyond the talk therapy model which isn’t able to reprocess trauma in as effective a way. Modalities like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems to name a few, truly offer us keys to unlock the hidden memory networks of ours brains where trauma is stored and to desensitize and reprocess these memories. This gives us a chance to have an experience of ourselves, both our mind and our bodies, which is often something vastly different than what we have known before.
- Address: 8170 Beverly Blvd Suite 207
Los Angeles, CA 90048
- Website: www.kathrynchayalubow.com
- Phone: 323-332-9852
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @kathrynchayalubow