Emily Dougherty, Founder

I’m Emily, a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga & Mindfulness Facilitator

If you identify as a survivor of Complex Trauma, I want to welcome you here and acknowledge the courageous brilliance it takes to be on a journey of self-healing. There are many traumatic experiences that can cause symptoms of complex-PTSD to show up in a person’s life, and the effects can be far-reaching and widely-varied. One of the commonalities they share; however, is that trauma is stored in the body’s nervous system, or better said “The issues are in the tissues.” Movement practices like trauma-sensitive yoga, when practiced in a safe environment, can create opportunities for a person to make their own choices for how to move based on the felt sense of one’s own body. When a person begins to understand their internal world and make choices based on that experience, self-empowerment, connection, and self-healing becomes possible.

Our practices are offered in small, closed groups or one-on-one sessions. Groups are open to anyone who identifies as a survivor of complex trauma living with symptoms of complex-PTSD. Practice is offered in a safe space where survivors can empower themselves in their present lives instead of suffering from the past. I believe everyone has the innate right to gain freedom from surviving and know what it feels like to embody their healing and thrive as their truly brilliant selves.

Connect with Emily

What is Trauma-Sensitive Yoga?

Programs

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

Offering Self-empowerment and Connection

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is an internally focused movement practice used to help those who are living from complex-PTSD by re-establishing an empowered connection between mind, body, and spirit.

Group Trauma Sensitive Yoga Classes

. In these Trauma-Sensitive Yoga group series, you have the opportunity to practice with others in a safe and welcoming environment. TCTSY combines a hatha style practice, but does not use physical hands-on adjustments to influence your form. Classes are 6-8 week series where you will meet 1-2 times per week. Group size is between 4-8 people. Groups are closed. You must sign up for the series ahead of time. Price is based on a sliding scale.

It is recommended that participants are presently seeing a therapist while practicing TCTSY. If hospitalization is a part of your story, it is recommended to wait at least 6 months before starting sessions. 

Individual Sessions

If practicing in a group is not something you find to be supportive for your healing journey, private individual sessions are available. Together we can create what our time may include: TCTSY trauma-sensitive yoga, mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork, yoga nidra, and more. All practices are offered through a trauma-informed lens. Price of individual sessions are on a sliding scale.

It is recommended that participants are presently seeing a therapist while practicing TCTSY. If hospitalization is a part of your story, it is recommended to wait at least 6 months before starting sessions

Partner with Me

Looking for a trauma-sensitive yoga and mindfulness facilitator to come teach in your organization or partner with? I love meeting others working in the field of trauma care, social work, yoga and mindfulness, and other healing art practices and am always seeking ways to partner and serve our communities better.

Trauma-informed Yoga & Mindfulness

For anyone seeking yoga and mindfulness practices outside of the TCTSY trauma-sensitive yoga model, I can offer support and guidance in practices from the 8 limbs of yoga such as movement/asana, breath work/pranayama, meditation/dhyana, yoga nidra, yamas and niyamas, etc. I consider myself a student first and foremost of the traditional practices of yoga, so I offer and share what I know in gratitude and appreciation for the spiritual seekers and teachers from India who developed and codified these practices.

Contemporary mindfulness practices work to focus your awareness on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. There are so many ways we can incorporate mindfulness into our lives, from the practices listed above to things we do all throughout our days, like walking, eating, listening, and communicating. All practices are offered through a trauma-informed lens.

What is Trauma Sensitive Yoga and how can it help?

Rooted in yoga philosophy, the practice is based on hatha style yoga. It consists of a series of physical forms and movements that are modified to make the practice accessible and empowering. The focus of the practice is not on the appearance of a form or whether the person is doing it right, but rather focusing on cultivating the felt sense of one’s own body and allowing that to inform how one may want to move. These and other core principles of the practice are designed to maximize experiences of empowerment and to cultivate a more positive relationship to one’s own body. To learn more about Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) and its benefits, visit the TCTSY website.

Complex Trauma & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. ” – Judith Herman “Trauma and Recovery”

Even when a person is no longer in immediate danger, symptoms of the traumas persist, typically causing a huge array of disruption and chaos in every aspect of living: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is a type of trauma that occurs repetitively and cumulatively over a longer period of time, and it occurs within the context of relationships where an abuse of power exists. It describes both the exposure to repetitive traumatic events- often of an invasive, interpersonal nature- and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of the chronic exposure. This differs from a single incident trauma which is defined as any traumatic event that threatens a person in a single point in time- like being in a car accident, being the victim or witness to a violent crime, pregnancy / birth traumas, etc.

Complex-trauma can occur in childhood from chronic abuse and/or neglect by a caregiver. When occurring earlier in life, it can cause attachment trauma which disrupts many aspects of a child’s development and the formation of a sense of self. More information on childhood complex trauma can be found at The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Complex-trauma can also occur at any age through experiences like violence in a community, racial trauma, domestic and family violence, civil unrest, war trauma or genocide, refugee and asylum seeker trauma, sexual exploitation and trafficking, and extreme medical trauma and/or re-traumatization. 

Complex PTSD

Symptoms of Complex PTSD can manifest in many different ways depending on a wide variety of factors. When there is childhood attachment trauma for example, adulthood might look like someone who’s sense of self was lost or never developed in the first place.  It might include severe social anxiety and isolation, difficulty managing and regulating emotions, living in a continual spiral of sadness, anger, shame and/or hopelessness, feeling stuck in the past or worry about the future making living in the present seemingly impossible. It can feel like a lot of things depending on a survivor’s experience- and all are valid. Some common ways that complex PTSD can show up in someone’s life may include one or more of the following:

  • Mood swings/ often resulting in depression and/or anxiety
  • Low self worth with feelings of shame and self-blame
  • Significant shifts in personality / not having a clear sense of self
  • Difficulty in relationships with others: issues with trust, isolation, codependency, looking for someone to save them
  • Troubles taking care of one’s self
  • High risk, self-destructive, and impulsive behaviors
  • Somatic (body) complications like pain, disease, etc.
  • Dissociation or mentally separating one’s self from an experience, often appearing checked out or frozen
  • Behavior lacking impulse control, may react defensively and aggressively in response to perceived blame or attack, or alternately, may at times be overcontrolled, rigid, and unusually compliant with perceived authority figures
  • Issues with cognition like thinking and learning

More information on effects of complex trauma can be found at The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

 

About Emily Dougherty

Certified in Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY), an empirically validated, clinical intervention for Complex Trauma or treatment resistant complex-PTSD

Since taking my first trauma-sensitive yoga training in 2018, I have facilitated classes in addiction treatment facilities, psychiatric facilities, and other social service agencies. I continue to seek out opportunities to offer yoga to communities and spaces where access to the practice is limited. I’ve completed several trainings including my most recent 300 hour teacher training with the Center for Trauma and Embodiment which certifies me as a facilitator in TCTSY (Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga www.traumasensitiveyoga.com). Like many practitioners in this field, my passion for supporting others with complex-PTSD comes from my own lived experience of survivorship. My hope is that I can provide a compassionate, embodied level of support for those I work with. I love what I do and how I arrived here. Today I have the ability to connect to others genuinely, something I thought would never be possible.

In my free-time, I love to be outside in nature and have found camping and hiking to be incredibly fulfilling and a source of healing. I’m a singer and aspiring songwriter, but you can find me mostly listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I am always trying out different ways of expression, including my most recent endeavors drawing, writing, and drumming. I live in Landenberg, PA with my best friend and husband, Pat and our two fur children, Peebs and Lulu.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

-Pema Chodran, American Tibetan Buddhist

Testimonials

“Emily is not only a unique and incredible Trauma Sensitive Yoga Instructor, she is an amazing person. Emily’s approach to Yoga is different than any other yoga I have experienced. Through her teachings, I learned ways to increase my spiritual connection, to stay present in my body, and to FEEL EMPOWERED to make choices that

Michelle McCann

“Love working with Emily!!! She is enthusiastic and passionate about her work, always bringing in new resources and ideas. She is able to meet her students wherever they are in their journey, caring for and teaching them as individuals. She is pleasant, patient, calm, and helpful in leading her classes. Time with Emily is time

Colleen L.

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