Stress management, resilience and trauma are getting more airtime these days, which is great! However, too often the solutions provided are neither trauma-informed, nor founded in the latest science about the human stress response. Too often, the tools offered are superficial, and even subtly blame the stressed-out person for their thinking, their “negativity” or for creating the stress in their lives.

This is not cool, and it doesn’t work! However, the Resilience Toolkit does.

I’m a Certified Facilitator of The Resilience Toolkit, a body-focused, trauma-informed, social justice-oriented set of eight practices that can calm the nervous system in under a minute. The practices are informed by 13 different scientific models, including research that is still ongoing. And they changed my life.

I’ve suffered from mental illnesses since childhood – depression, anxiety, trichotillomania, attachment disorder, developmental trauma – and I have an ACEs score of 3, which is high. My own life has been transformed since I learned these tools in January 2019. Not only am I now able to calm myself in ways I never could, I feel tremendously empowered by this ability! Over time, I’ve also seen subtle shifts in some of the lifelong patterns that have gotten in the way of me living as the healthiest, freest version of myself.

Since I became certified, I’ve taught the Toolkit to hundreds of people in multiple walks of life in 13 countries. I offer private individual sessions and group sessions both in-person and virtually. I also incorporate Resilience Toolkit practices and a trauma-informed approach into coaching sessions as needed.

stress and anxiety

Contact me now to explore wellness, resilience or stress management for you or your team.

Learn about upcoming “The Resilience Toolkit for Stress & Anxiety” online sessions.

What does body-focused mean?

Body-focused, or “somatic” means that the practices involve body movement and body awareness. This is because trauma and chronic stress mostly live in the nervous system below the neck! Years of talk therapy and thinking exercises can be transformative (I know, I’ve been healed by these methods and still am!), but they’re not the most effective way to calm anxiety and relieve stress in the moment. Also, talking and thinking aren’t the most efficient way to start to heal the dysfunctional pathways that form in the body in response to acute or ongoing stress.

What does “trauma-informed” mean?

This is another term that gets tossed about, but isn’t always understood, nor effectively applied.  “Trauma-informed” means that an approach, modality or program adheres to six key principles outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The six principles are:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness & transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration & mutuality
  5. Empowerment & choice
  6. Cultural, historical & gender issues

But I don’t have trauma!

Yay for you! And here are two ideas to consider:

One, most people do carry some level of trauma in their nervous system. Trauma isn’t just one horrible incident that happened to us in the past (although more people have had these experiences than we realize). It’s also the accumulated effect of little stressors, anxieties and hurts that build up over time. Working long hours for wages that don’t allow you to live comfortably creates trauma in the body. Growing up in a family that doesn’t meet your physical, emotional or psychological needs creates trauma in the body. Walking around the world in a female-presenting, black or brown body creates trauma in the body.

Two, I think of a trauma-informed approach like I think of the handicap ramp. The handicap ramp became a norm (and law) to accommodate persons in wheelchairs. Yet, how many of us have also used handicap ramps when we weren’t confined to a wheelchair? When I’ve been hauling a rollerbag, or when I’ve had a foot injury, I’m grateful for that ramp.  Similarly, a trauma-informed approach creates a more healing, equitable, respectful environment for everyone, not just those with a trauma history.

How is the Resilience Toolkit social justice-oriented?

Will you preach at me about racism and injustice during a session?

First of all, no! Second of all, integral to the Toolkit is the notion that we can’t self-care our way out of all our stressors! The Toolkit was created by Nkem Ndefo, a nurse midwife of color (and overall brilliant badass), and part of its framework is an ecological perspective. This means that the factors which stress and deplete us – and also support and resource us – are multiple. Some we can control, such as individual choice and aspects of our interpersonal relationships. Many we cannot control, such as our genetics, family and generational history, social relationships, the zip code where we grew up, the state of our neighborhood, the behavior of institutions around us, the social and economic policies of our nation, and the quality of the environment.

To paraphrase Nkem, we can’t self-help our way out of racism, sexism, oppressive policies in our workplace, or a lack of a social safety net. However, the Toolkit practices not only equip us to live healthier, happier lives by relieving the effects of these stressors, over time they also increase our bandwidth to transform the oppressive systems causing many of our stressors in the first place!

In short, a more relaxed, resourced person is better equipped to dismantle oppression, injustice and inequity.

Cool, huh?

Download the Resilience Toolkit Flyer

So, exactly what happens during a Toolkit session?

Depending on whether you participate in a private session or group session, your experience may include some or all of the following elements:

  • Reviewing your personal history and goals
  • Exploring definitions of stress and resilience
  • Developing awareness of your body’s messages
  • Learning the three core questions to assess your stress level
  • Understanding the basic science of the human stress response
  • Gaining tools to reduce stress in the moment
  • Defining next steps for change

Learn about upcoming “The Resilience Toolkit for Stress & Anxiety” online sessions.

Testimonials

I had the pleasure of participating in Susana's Resilience Toolkit and it was well worth the time. It was an insightful, reflective session filled with tools that can help you become a better you and manage your stress. The session introduced 3 simple tools that I use every day to help me stay focused, calm and most of all productive during these turbulent times. I highly recommend. Susana is a kind, generous and brilliant coach and facilitator. She cares deeply for people and brings her own vulnerability in to her work which adds to her credibility and compassion. Working with her during her sessions was a privilege for me.

Deborah Reilly

Susana demonstrates a quality of confidence and yet humility that made me feel comfortable and able to trust her quickly. Her supportive way of being with her attendees and her openness were very inviting and allowed me to absorb information more deeply. She is very trauma informed. Nothing felt forced, it was all very open participation and non-authoritative while still maintaining her expertise. Susana was very natural in her role as a facilitator and I got a lot out of this short time with her. I’m so grateful.

Jessica FerrettiFounder, HHC, and practitioner of healing at Meditation for Muscles

I thought your session was the best hour I have spent at work in weeks! I LOVE your style and the safe space you created.”

Virtual Group Session Participant

Wonderful webinar! Content was extremely relevant, and your facilitation was flawless. Thank you for your leadership on this important topic. I will be following up with you.

Virtual Group Session Participant

Thank you Susana – the content and presentation were FANTASTIC! I think this was sooo beneficial for everyone – both in terms of knowing that we’re all feeling stress in some form and that there are easy to use tools to deal with it.

Virtual Group Session Participant

As a leader in the organization often it’s hard to admit when we are getting overloaded. Today for the first time in 8 years I got to ‘level 3’. As a result of your call I was able to come down to ‘level 2’, and I took action on items that will move the project forward. Most importantly, I can close down my 14-hour day to go spend time with my family being present instead of ‘frozen’. I am truly grateful for your session, and I thank you for the confidentiality.

Virtual Group Session Participant

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