Somatic parts work therapy provided by a registered social worker

so you can recover from stress and anxiety and reclaim your life.

Does this sound familiar?

  • You’re experiencing overwhelming stress and anxiety.
  • Constant worries and a racing mind are getting the best of you.
  • You had it together but now you’ve hit a rough patch.
  • Your nerves are fried and you don’t know what to do.
  • You know things need to change.

    You want relief from any number of symptoms, including:

    • insomnia
    • constant worrying
    • racing mind
    • feeling tense all the time
    • having a short fuse
    • constant criticism in your head
    • confusion, difficulty concentrating or getting things done
    • overwhelming emotions

    It’s time for you to address these issues and enjoy your life again. 

    Somatic parts work therapy for stress and anxiety can help.

    Somatic parts work therapy with Shulamit

    Hi there! I'm Shulamit Ber Levtov, MA, RSW, CCTP, CFSW. 

    You can call me Shula for short and my pronouns are she/her.

    • I understand how anxiety and stress affect you and your life.
    • I know why stress symptoms seem to stick around forever.
    • I know how to work with your anxiety and other symptoms, so you can feel good, relax and respond effectively when the crap hits the fan.
    • I have the compassion that comes from knowing what it’s like to live through stress of all kinds and recover from it.

    I have applied somatic parts work in my own life since 2006 as part of my recovery from stress and trauma, and it is a central part of my self care to this day. I was certified as a somatic parts work professional in 2009. I have a Masters degree in Counselling and Spirituality from Saint Paul University, and am a registered social worker in the province of Ontario

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is somatic parts work?

    First and foremost parts work is a conversation, mostly between you and yourself, with company from me. I'll offer prompts to support you in making contact with your inner experiencing. You'll report what you notice. I'll offer suggestions for ways to relate to that experiencing, using parts language. I'll support you in cultivating the capacity for self-in-presence, a sense of yourself that can relate to your stressed and anxious parts, so they can receive the care they need.

    I also offer what's called reflective listening. When you’re talking, sometimes you say something really insightful, and you say to yourself, “Hey! Did I just say that? I didn’t know that was going to come out of my mouth!” But sometimes you can talk so fast you fly right by your own insights and wisdom. My role is to listen for what you say that is important, insightful or wise, and say it back to you, so you can be sure to take it in.

    Somatic means body. But don't worry if you're like, "Body? What body??" or "I have no interest in what's happening in my body." or "I'm scared to go there because of what might happen." In somatic parts work, we work first with inner consent. You, your body and your parts get to say how far and how fast (or how not far and how slow) we go. If you're feeling anxious (for example), that's where will start, attending to and caring for your anxious parts so they get what they need.

    In somatic parts work therapy, we work with sensory or felt information. Together, we attend to any sensations you notice, and in the process, you develop the capacity to describe and accompany those sensations in a way that allows them the time and space to unfold and reveal their wisdom.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    How is working with Shulamit going to help me with stress and anxiety?

    One of the things that makes difficult experiences or hard times worse is having to carry it all by yourself. A lot of the people who come to me are the go-to people for their families, friends and co-workers… and just about everyone else in their lives! They have always been strong, capable, competent people. That means they are carrying not only their own stuff, in a strong, competent, capable way, but also everyone else’s. But then, who’s in your corner? That’s where psychotherapy comes in. I can help you carry the emotional weight of what’s going on in your life.

    Holding an emotion in increases the demand on your capacity—it takes energy to “put on a happy face”—and over time that can lead to symptoms like a shorter fuse, irritability, headaches, and trouble sleeping. If you have a place where you can let the emotions out, that is going to decrease your stress.

    You might have lots of people you can talk to in your life, and they might be very kind, helpful and understanding, but when you share heavy things with them, you might get a variety of reactions. They might get mad, or frustrated, or give you advice. Or maybe what you’ve shared comes back to you later, in a way you don’t really want it to.

    My stance is a neutral one, so when you talk to me, I’m not going to get mad or upset, and I’m not going to get my nose in your business. You can leave your heavy stuff in my office and there’s not going to be any negative impact on the rest of your life because I’m not connected to it. That’s the advantage of therapy: you get to bring it, say it, and if you want to leave it, it can stay in my office. It won’t cause ripples in the rest of your life unless you choose to make those changes yourself.

    When you’re stressed, you might feel emotionally overwhelmed and anxious. Maybe tears come out at the most inappropriate time, or maybe you snap when you shouldn’t. When this happens, it’s hard to think straight and problem-solve. This is a problem with how every human brain functions. When it’s emotionally overwhelmed, it can’t think. With somatic parts work therapy, we will relate to your emotions (so you don't drown in them). By developing a relationship with your emotions, you can begin to address them, reduce your anxiety, and regain your problem-solving capacity.

    Being hard on yourself is a hallmark of stress and trauma. We all have a tendency to be self-critical, but when stress is high, then the “itty, bitty shitty committee” in your head can make a lot of noise. I can teach you tools that will help you be kinder to yourself. The inner bullying of that “itty, bitty shitty committee” is as harmful, over time, as being bullied from the outside. You may not be able to change your external conditions, but you sure can be kinder to yourself, and that removes one stressor from your plate. Plus, being nice to yourself, even if it’s only in your thoughts, counters the effects of external stressors. Whatever you have the power to change that reduces your stress is going to help you feel better.

    The ultimate result of ongoing, constant stress is that your nervous system gets fried. To recover, it needs rest, soothing and nourishing. Just like a runner, the nervous system needs rest and recovery time between marathons if it’s going to get up and run another. And, let’s face it, life is full of stressors. Learning the signs so you can detect them early and act quickly to regulate your nervous system will help you cope better with stress and anxiety, and prevent you from crashing and burning.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    What happens in session?

    In your first session, the first step is to talk about policies: cancellation, payment, communication, confidentiality and safety. It's also an opportunity for you to tell your story.

    The first thing most people say is, “I don’t even know where to start,” so usually in the first session, the first question I ask is, “What was happening that day that made you pick up the phone?" or "What made you say, 'Holy crap, I have to talk to someone!'?" After that, you talk and I listen, and we engage in somatic parts work therapy as described above.

    So many people come to me wondering, “Am I nuts?” or “What’s the matter with me?” because the thoughts and feelings that can come up as a result of stress can be confusing and upsetting.

    A big part of my job is to reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with you.

    My education and training has taught me what is “normal” (in other words, what is to be expected when a person is experiencing overwhelming stress). Part of my job is to share that knowledge with you. You might not be feeling great about things, you might be stressed to the max, you might feel like you’re “going crazy,” but you’re OK.  What you’re experiencing is normal, given what you’re going through.

    “Every bad feeling is a potential energy towards a more right way of being
    if you just give it space to move towards its rightness.”
    Gene Gendlin

    I will support you in bringing an open and curious attitude toward what you’re saying and experiencing, and in slowing down to really hear it. You’ll hear me say things like, “Maybe we could pause here. What you just said sounds like it might be important.” Going slowly and being curious are tools that support paying attention, so you can get to know what’s happening now, thus making change possible. In fact, paying attention in an open and curious way can itself be change.

    “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am,
    then I can change.”
    Carl Rogers

    I can also play a consulting role. You’re coming to me because you’ve hit a wall. You’ve got all kinds of skills and resources but somehow they’re not working any more. You’re saying, to yourself “I know all this good stuff, but it’s not getting me anywhere anymore.” In situations like that, I can be a consultant or a sounding board to help you troubleshoot and/or identify missing pieces.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    How do I know I’m ready for somatic parts work therapy?

    Some signs you may be ready for somatic parts work therapy:

    • You realize that you keep trying the same things and they do not work.
    • What you are doing to cope is interfering with some aspect of your life.
    • When you want to change your life and move forward.

    Paradoxically, you may also be ready when you want to learn to accept and be compassionate toward yourself.

    Is this you?

    • You feel like you’ve hit a wall somehow.
    • The things that you used to do aren’t working any more.
    • You’re feeling confused or like things don’t make sense.
    • You’re thinking something like, “I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life and I’ve always done fine until now, so what the hell is going on???”
    • You want to understand what’s happening to you so you can do something about it.
    • Other people have told you you’ve changed, that you’re not yourself, or not the way you used to be.
    • You’re snappier, angrier, sadder, more irritable, hard to be around, more down than you used to be.
    • You used to be a happy person and now you don’t laugh any more.
    • You feel tense all the time.

    Maybe this is you:

    • Your physical symptoms have gotten to a point where you say, “I have to do something.”
    • You can’t sleep and you’ve tried everything.
    • You have headaches and can’t seem to do anything about them.
    • You have digestive issues, you’ve tried everything but still they’re not resolved.

    Or maybe this is you?

    • You’ve done it on your own so well for so long, but now you’re thinking, “Listen, I can’t do it on my own anymore. I want some help.”
    • Or maybe you don’t want to do it on your own anymore. You’re thinking, “I’m sick and tired of doing it all on my own and I freaking deserve some help.”

    Or maybe you’ve experienced one of the following:

    • high-demand work or workplace
    • demanding or difficult family situations
    • workplace bullying or harassment
    • a difficult childhood
    • an abusive relationship

    If you said yes to one of more of the items above, somatic parts work psychotherapy might be helpful.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    How long will it take to achieve my goals?

    I hate to sound wishy-washy but it depends.

    Your goal might be something like, “I want to be happy” and that could take quite a while. But we can also take a look at how you know you’ll be happy and you might start noticing some of those things in a short amount of time.

    Maybe you have a very clear and specific goal. We can break it into small, manageable, do-able steps and you can make progress from week to week.

    Some people are like a seed, where you plant the seed and it has to decay before it can sprout and grow, so you might experience what we could call a front end load, where you need to put some time in. But then, seemingly all of a sudden, something happens.

    Reaching your goal is a very individual thing.

    It also depends on how open and ready you are to notice what is happening now and look at paths for change. Habitual patterns once served a good purpose, and they can also keep us from moving forward. Realizing how these patterns once kept you safe, as well as how they are now keeping you way from the life you want to lead is part of the process.

    You may also want to spend time with your fear of letting go of habitual patterns, since the part of you that is afraid may feel stronger than your wish to let go. It makes sense that part of you wants to let go and part of you doesn’t. Those habits originally had a good reason for being here. It can take time to see their good reason, or the needs they were intended to meet, and discover fresh ways to meet those needs.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    What will happen when I contact Shulamit?

    When you book your free call here, you'll be asked to complete a call preparation questionnaire. The you'll get an email confirming I've received your booking. I'll respond within regular business hours to confirm your free call. In the free call you will have the opportunity to interview me (because after all, you're considering hiring me). We'll also review your questionnaire responses, and discuss next steps.

    Will anyone know that I am working with Shulamit?

    No. This is especially important in a small town where everybody knows everybody. People know who you are and who I am. It’s part of my ethical and legal responsibilities to protect your privacy, so (you might hear me say this in your first session) what that comes down to is, in public, unless you say hi to me first, I will act as if I don’t know you. This is because our relationship is not a social one, it’s a counselling relationship, a therapeutic one, a sacred one, and that doesn’t necessarily involve talking about the weather out in public.

    Another way you’re protected is under Canadian and Ontario privacy laws, and under the law that governs the practice of social work. As a registered social worker, I comply with these legal and ethical privacy requirements. There are only certain very specific and extremely limited conditions under which I can share your information without your permission: immediate danger to you or another adult, risk to someone who is under 16, or if the court subpoenas my files. If any of these occurred, we would talk about them at that time and decide what to do together.

    My ability to make the contribution I want to make in the world, to help make the world a better place, and make people’s lives more wonderful, depends entirely upon this sacred trust of confidentiality and privacy. Continuing to do this work really matters to me and your trust really matters to me. Therefore everything is confidential, including everything you say and even the fact that you’re a client.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    What if I start working with Shulamit, something comes up and I can’t continue?

    It’s no problem. If it’s a money issue, we can discuss a variety of options and the resources available so you can have ways to keep moving forward if money is a problem. If it has to do with issues like timing or life circumstances, we can troubleshoot together. Even if you decide counselling is not for you, that’s totally cool. Part of my job is to be a resource-person so I can direct you to all kinds of different resources for personal growth and support that are available in this area. 

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together. 

    Payment

    Sessions last 50 minutes. As of 2024, fees start at $250 per session (no HST).

    Receipts can be issued for reimbursement from insurance companies and for income tax deductions.

    Payment can be made with your credit card or Visa debit.

    Where can I have appointments?

    We can meet in person in Ottawa (near the Ikea) or in my home office, located about 8 minutes from either Smiths Falls or Merrickville.

    Virtual appointments can be held by phone, or by video using a free, secure, telehealth video platform that opens in your browser. Details will be provided when you schedule an appointment.

    If it feels right, book your free call here to get started working together.

    Phone

    For virtual sessions by phone, I will call you at the time of your appointment.

    If you have headphones with a microphone, you may find it’s more comfortable to use that than to hold the phone in your hand the whole time. If you have privacy, the speaker option can also work well.

    Video

    For virtual sessions by video, both a webcam and microphone are required. You can use your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Please also have your phone on hand in case for some reason there are technical challenges.

    Our secure video platform is even easier to use than Skype or Zoom because there is no software to download or install.

    For a virtual session by video, I will email you a link. About 5 minutes before your appointment, click the link. This will open a page in your browser.

    When you land on that page, type in your name and hit enter or click the check-in button. That will place you into a waiting room.

    From there, I will control starting/stopping the meeting.

    Note: when you first load the virtual waiting room, the browser has a popup message that asks you to allow access to your camera and microphone. Please use your mouse to click ‘allow’.

    But I don’t like myself on video

    I don’t like seeing myself on video either, for long periods of time. If you’re feeling uneasy about seeing yourself on video, there is a way to hide your preview so you don‘t see yourself. I can tell you how to use it when we meet. You could also place a small sticky note on your screen to cover your preview.

    If you really don’t want to use video, phone is a great option. In fact, some people find themselves more at ease when they are on the phone.

    But I don’t have a private place

    For some people, ensuring privacy may mean taking the meeting in the bathroom or in the car (in good weather). I won’t judge your location.
    Some people prefer to have phone appointments and go for a walk outdoors… even in winter!