Theory & Philosophy


Relational Somatic Healing is grounded in the principles of:

What is Relational Somatic Healing

Relational Somatic Healing is a therapeutic modality that fully immerses the client in a new experience of a healthy, authentic, real, loving relationship with the therapist in the here and now. This enables clients to experience a healthy relationship with themselves, and the world.

We focus on healing Relational Developmental Trauma (RDT), which is trauma that happens within the first years of life, within the child-parent relationship. Because RDT happens in relationship, healing RDT also happens within the client-therapist relationship.

Relational Somatic Healing understands that relational developmental trauma could have its roots in intergenerational trauma- trauma that was passed down from generation to generation.

Relational Somatic Healing aims to heal developmental trauma while also recognizing the client’s wholeness, resilience, and life force.

RSH’s intention is to help one another to awaken through healthy, loving, authentic relationships. Embodying our humanity one relationship at a time.

What We Offer

We offer classes centered on healing developmental trauma.

We understand RDT through the lens of the developmental character map. With this map, you’ll learn how to work relationally with clients and work with relational touch to heal relational trauma.

Our training programs are immersive experiences that facilitate embodied learning from the inside out. Through the use of live demonstrations, supported dyad practices, reflective artwork, and expressive and developmental movement exercises, our internal experiences become the source of our understanding. 

Who We Are

Relational Somatic Healing is a women-led organization that was founded by Shirley Dvir – the lead teacher, along with Traci Uchida, Jacki Hall, Lawanda Jackson, and Yevgenia Kirnos Bocceri. With the support of Eugenia Guidi and Erica Berman.  

Our Influences

  • Hakomi, craniosacral hands-on work, feminist psychology, black psychology, Indigenous psychology and wisdom.
  • Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, the founder of Body-Mind Centering and author of Sensing Feeling and Action & Basic Nerocellular Patterns.
  • Rae Johnson – researcher and teacher of embodied activism and author of Embodied activism- engaging the body to cultivate liberation, justice, and authentic connection.
  • Hanna Levenson – author of Brief Dynamic Therapy.
  • Allison Post – somatic educator and author of Unwinding the Belly & Gut Wellness Guide.

RSH Theory

We work relationally since Relational Somatic Healing is directed to heal Relational Developmental Trauma.

Knowing that we are always in relationships with one another. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen coined the term SelfOther – there is no self without the other, no other without self. We study how the client is doing relationship with us and how they are connecting with us as a platform for transformation.


Relational Developmental Trauma not only has an emotional imprint on the client, but it also has a somatic marker. In RSH, we attend to the body and let the body guide us toward healing.

The Therapist’s Internal State

We emphasize the therapist’s internal state at the work center. Cultivating the therapists’ embodiment through movement, exploration, awareness, and breath.  

Being vs. Doing

We emphasize the being vs doing. Knowing that secure bonding is a somatic, physiologic, energetic state, as Mary Ainsworth, the mother of attachment theory, said: it’s the “how” of the mother holding her baby that creates secure bonding. We are relearning the how— by slowing down and being able to be with our clients so we can receive them.

Receiving vs Tracking

We encourage therapists to slow down and receive their clients vs tracking them. In receiving, we get to let clients come to us, and we can see the wholeness of their expression. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen says: “healing happens when another person is fully receiving us.”

Providing A New Way of Relating

In RSH, we are directed to follow the client’s somatic, emotional, and relational longing. Bringing our awareness toward what they are longing for, in the here and now with you. Humans long for simple things such as to be seen, to be met, held, loved, and so on.

Social activism

We are inspired by Rae Johnson’s work on embodied social activism. Creating human-to-human relationships. Healing microaggressions with micro-interactions, connections, and relationships.

Intergenerational lenses

While we see the impact of intergenerational trauma on the client’s current struggles, we don’t blame the mother or the parents. As Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen says, our mothers did the best they could.  

Character Map

The character map originated from William Reich, we updated the map according to our perspective, which aims to be non-pathologizing and more relational. Understanding the map helps us to meet our clients where they are and provide healing new experiences in relationships.

Five Stages of Development 

  1.   Safety: Newborn – 3 months arriving in the world. Feeling safe, existence, and belonging.  
  2.   Connection: 6 months -1 year. Nourishment, feeling nourished and that needs are met.   
  3.   Freedom: 1.5 years -3 years old.  Autonomy and space – having freedom and space to be myself.
  4.   Trust, Truth, and Authenticity: 1.5 years – 3 years old. Providing trust to be vulnerable.
  5.   Play, Love: 3 years – 6 years old. Having the ability to relax, play, and be loved.

Relational Touch

Relational touch is a touch that centers on the relationship between therapist and client. It is a safe, ethical, embodied, non-doing type of touch within psychotherapy. Ongoing verbal and nonverbal consent is essential and of the utmost importance. This form of hands-on touch happens in conjunction with ongoing verbal exchange to support the unfolding emotional process. Using relational touch, we can directly contact the psychology that lives in our clients’ physiology. We’re able to let our clients know, somatically, that we are here.

Touch is done while the client is fully clothed, and primarily for the comfort of the therapist, a massage table is typically used.

Quotes From Students

“I learned how much I love this work and how important the non-doing or being state is to facilitate the wisdom of the body and aliveness”

“It’s about deep healing of the being and the body – a meeting of the soul and inviting it home.”
“Using the relationship is the primary resource to allow completion of survival responses that have already been interrupted”

“Healing is possible.”

“A blissful and transcendent experience of giving and receiving which lets me feel the power of this way of working.”

“Life is so complex – but often the most powerful healing is simple.”

“Love is so abundant. Wise guidance can allow dry rivers to fill again. “

“It’s sacred and mundane- following the every day physical realm of the body to the realm of sacred healing.”
“Hard to summarize, very deep, profound, like a coming home.”

“This work is a profound way to do deep healing in a way that fuels both client and practitioner.”

“I am loved and lovable, I am ok, I get to choose, I can trust myself and God.”

“Relational Somatic Healing is the missing link between relationship, words and the body – the part that has no words, but never forgets.”