Brighton woman’s mission helping people reclaim their bodies after sexual trauma
A survivor of childhood sexual trauma Michelle Roberton offers other survivors a chance to reclaim their bodies through a radical new method known as Authentic Roots: Body Movement Rehabilitation TM.
Michelle describes herself as a sexual trauma alchemist.
She is a licensed Councillor and specialised trauma therapist and body worker, certified by the association of somatic and integrated sexologists.
Drawing on her own experience of extreme sexual abuse as a child, Michelle identifies and focuses on the disconnection and dissociation experiences of childhood sexual and developmental trauma created within the body.
She wanted to provide an alternative therapy for people who have experienced childhood sexual trauma.
“When you go to your GP they advise you to get counselling but it doesn’t help everyone and sometimes it is a group session.
“But everyone is different. For some it may have been one person every day of their life or it may have been by a group of people or a one off and sharing that with others can be hard.
“GP and counselling attends to our mind and leaves out the trauma that has effected our bodies.
“With Somatics therapy I tried it but it was overwhelming. There is a lot of repetitive movement that can bring back memories.”
Authentic Roots – Body Movement Rehabilitation TM provides an alternative, gentle approach that’s personalised to each recipient.
It works with the idea of being present and whole when moving in the world.
This new approach to sexual and developmental trauma is in direct opposition to more traditional forms of sexual trauma therapy, which can overwhelm some recipients, and can actually
The aim of the process is to bring a person back into their body, focussing on their movements, and learning to trust the body’s sensory motor system, which is often disrupted as a result of abuse. It combines breathing, touch, creative exploration, setting boundaries, sexual power, sensory movement, intimacy, and self parenting to help rewire the pathways connecting the body and mind.
“I would feel like I was walking down the street but I was not aware of my legs, it was just a mechanical movement rather than being in tune with my body and many people that see me say that.
“I use my own experiences and experiment on myself to see what does and doesn’t work.
“Authentic Roots: Body Movement Rehabilitation is about connecting with those primal movements.
“When you are a child or baby you learn to roll, sit up or walk but if you have experienced sexual trauma you don’t want to move as you don’t want to draw attention to yourself so it is about connecting back to those moments.
“So it could be rolling from your from front to your back up to sitting, the movements are defined and refined and not rushed.”
A common symptom of a traumatic experience is a sense of being ‘outside’ or ‘above’ the body, unable to engage with sensations. This feeling affects every part of a person’s life, from the
way they relate to others, to the way they move, even the way they breathe.
Michelle adds that key to the method is experiencing a loving touch rather than something abusive.
Most people opt for three sessions, the first is about building trust between Michelle and the person, for them to know they are in a safe space.
Each session is one-to-one and people tend to have about six.
“Booking into more than one session is also about them making a commitment to coming each week,” she explains adding that she has worked with people from Ireland, Poland and France.
But sexual trauma isn’t just about abuse but can be linked to beliefs.
“Some sexual trauma can stem from beliefs I have seen people who’s religion has an impact on their sexuality and the way they feel about their body.
“Many girls are made to feel a certain way and it is about breaking down those taboos so people talk more opening about it.”
Michelle is also keen to bust myths and taboos around sex from how we talk about it to the stigma attached to tantra.
She is also doing extensive research and working with male shame around sex.