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4 Aug 2023 | 11:11 | Emma Girling

My name is Kelly and I am a Trauma informed Yoga teacher and Somatic Therapist in Bournemouth and specialise in pre and post-natal yoga. I have been invited by DorPIP to write a blog post about my experiences and how Somatic therapy can aid parents with attachment struggles. 


I had my daughter later in life at the age of 41 and sadly suffered from post-natal depression. The only help offered was hospitalisation at one point and medication. Now, varied routes of support are available for parents like the services that DorPIP provides -  


Since then, I have been on a deeper dive into the body, mind and somatic work (body-based help for trauma). In his well-known book, “The Body Keeps the Score” Psychiatrist, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, illustrates recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.  


He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research of over three decades working with survivors and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives (taken from Amazon book preview). 


In my deep dive into trauma this was one of the books that really got me interested in my own self help with depression and anxiety and a family history of mental illness.  As I have suffered with chronic pain, with no lasting help from the usual routes, I also came across the work of Dr Sarno on TMS syndrome (unexplainable pain and the link to emotions). Later I discovered Dr Peter Levine, who has researched and written on trauma extensively and somatic release as well as Dr Gabor Mate who saw the links early on in his busy GP practice of trauma and developing addictions.  These all really opened my eyes into the root of a lot of illnesses and link to suppressed/repressed motions and trauma. 


When my mother had both myself and my brother she sadly suffered from post natal depression and anxiety and never pursued therapy for long or other help offered. This has continued on and off throughout her life and she has been on the more traditional route of a lot of medication. 


It is now more well known how attachment disorders affect bonding. When we do not feel safe secure or held in our emotions, our nervous system response system state changes. This response causes someone to be on hyper alert and then results in dorsal shut down or a mixture of the two states (frozen with an overactive mind that will not switch off and goes round in loops of worry, adding to the anxiety, and/or stuck in depression and low mood. These nervous system state changes have now been extensively studied in polyvagal theory, ref Dr Stephen Porges. who has also shown how as mammals we need to feel safe and secure (in Ventral Vagal) for our our emotional health regulated as both infants and adults. Where this has not happened for a baby (due to no fault for the mum who is usually suffering as a result of nervous system dysregulation from her conditions also), it then gets passed on through to the baby through neuroception and entraining of breath and nervous system state.  This predisposition is also showing up genetically through intergenerational trauma and traumas of our ancestry.  

The good news is the way by working with the body and nervous system, we can understand these state changes and re-learn to regulate, establish safety and develop nervous system resilience. Depending on the level of trauma, this can take time to shift but with time and gentleness, small and lasting changes are possible.  

DorPIP offer IAIM attachment-led infant massage courses, which provide an enjoyable opportunity to spend one-to-one time connecting with your baby through the warm interactions and gentle communication of positive nurturing touch. In this calm, nurturing space, infant massage can help you to encourage calm and relaxation for both parent and baby.  

More somatic modalities are slowing coming in, to accompany the talking therapies, like the ones DorPIP offer here:, and also with helpful support for the nervous system to resource and regulate and build capacity and resilience.  It is in this field I now find myself, having learnt and understood how to better help myself and become more alive and aware in my relationships, including as a mother and to others I work with.   

More information about me, my classes and somatic work can be found here: and more information about DorPIP’s services can be found here: