Maria Connolly, LPC

Maria’s Approach

to Somatic Coaching and Counseling

This page is designed to answer your questions before we begin working together. You’ll learn about my approach to somatic coaching as well as the different therapeutic approaches I offer to meet your specific needs.

How would you describe your approach?

My approach as a coach is best described as integrative. This means I bring together a number of therapeutic approaches and unify them into a unique working model just for you.

My approach to somatic coaching is also very holistic. My goal is to help you channel your inner driving force in a harmonious direction. This can be likened to a stream that flows between rocks. Your inner force is the water that is constantly rushing forward. By carefully placing rocks in that stream—these rocks can be physical, spiritual, mental or emotional—you can learn to channel your inner force in a positive, healthy and ever forward moving direction.

What areas can I address in somatic coaching?

In coaching we address specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in your personal life, relationships or profession such as:

  • Relationships and Intimacy
  • Stress Management and Balance
  • Spirituality and Personal Growth
  • Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development
  • Career Planning and Development
  • Motivation and Time Management
  • Creativity for Artists
  • Health, Aging, Lifestyle and Self-Care
  • And much more
How do we work together in a coaching partnership?

We start by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life what you want it to be.

When clients begin coaching with me they usually want help in revamping some aspect of themselves they find deficient. I invariably suggest they begin their process of change by first examining their current strategies – either they are life-enhancing or not. Once people have a better idea of how they predictably generate responses to life’s challenges, they can begin to generate new ideas and new responses to get new outcomes. Rather than focusing on what’s “wrong” I help people understand what’s working well, and then what they need to be doing differently.

During our work together I’ll encourage you to set targets and a series of actions to help you reach them. The actions will be a step-by-step approach. For example, if you are stressed from overworking you may set a target of reducing the amount of hours you spend on work-related tasks by 20% within three months. I would then assist you in learning strategies to achieve that goal.

What is your approach to goal setting?

As useful as focusing on goals is, it’s important to recognize that we aim for goals in order to satisfy needs. For instance, in the example of the goal to reduce your time spent working. What might be the underlying need? Could it be in order to give you more time to satisfy your love and belonging needs by improving your relationships? Or perhaps in order to help you satisfy your self-actualization needs and achieve fulfillment in an area of personal importance?

Another way of exploring underlying needs is to ask ourselves – What are the outcomes that I want to achieve? In other words, what is the end result you are hoping to achieve with your particular goal? That outcome will usually be something related to a personal need expressed in terms of fulfillment or satisfaction.

Outcomes could include one or more of the following:

  • Greater job satisfaction
  • A more harmonious relationship with less conflict in it
  • Feeling better about yourself and more confident
  • A more healthy and balanced lifestyle

For example, if you are thinking of setting a goal for yourself of running your own business within two years, the positive outcomes could include:

  • Greater independence
  • More satisfaction with your job
  • A sense of personal fulfillment

It’s also important to clarify whether there will be potential negative outcomes from achieving your goal and weigh these against the positive outcomes. You might reflect that achieving the goal of running your own business could produce some negative outcomes, such as:

  • Less security and stability
  • Pressure on your relationships
Understanding the outcomes supports the process of setting goals in a number of ways:
  1. By clarifying what benefits you are hoping to achieve with your goals.
  2. By clarifying potential downsides from achieving the goals.
  3. By helping you to explore whether the goals you initially set are in fact the best way of creating the outcome that you want.

When you’re having difficulty motivating yourself to achieve your goals, my support as your coach can be invaluable in helping you to refine them, to help achieve the outcomes you desire and plan how to deal with potential negative outcomes.

What do you bring to this coaching relationship?
  • My background gives me insight into distinct cultures as well as the challenges and transitions they often create.
  • I bring a passion for learning as I’m always expanding my horizons through classes, training and reading and I’ll encourage you to do the same.
  • I love people. I’m curious to learn who they are, how they operate and what their personal belief system and personal strategies are.
  • I model a welcoming attitude to life by being open and flexible and creating meaningful rituals.
  • I am also fearless. This quality is often necessary when we need to push through obstacles that may appear insurmountable.
  • I use mindfulness as a way to stay present and conscious in all that I do, including coaching.
  • I get to the “heart” of the matter so that your goals are aligned with your needs.
  • My training as a therapist gives me additional insight and tools to work with.

Click here to learn more about me.

Are you a psychotherapist as well as a coach?

I have many years of experience as a psychotherapist with training in a variety of techniques such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Hypnotherapy. However, in 2015 I began a shift away from traditional therapy and into Somatic Coaching. Rather than focusing on past problems my focus with clients is now on future goals and the overall development and growth of the individual. Basically, this coaching approach encompasses your entire body and is much more results-driven and future oriented than traditional therapy. While I still benefit from my years of experience as a therapist, I find that Somatic Coaching attracts clients that are committed to meaningful and purposeful lives.

What are some of the methods or approaches you utilize?

My approach to somatic coaching creates a much higher self-awareness than traditional psychotherapy and personal-development coaching. This is because rather than focusing solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching incorporates your entire body.

As a somatic coach I use a variety of approaches. This enables us to have great flexibility as we collaborate together to choose a method that feels comfortable and will best meet your needs.

Self-relations (or Generative Coaching) serves as a foundation for my work. Self-relations focuses on the crucial relationship between a person and their own self with the primary objective to awaken and promote a unique intimate relationship in a person’s experience. You heal in relationships—your relationship with yourself, with your loved ones and with the world around you. Relationships allow you to “reconnect” with your inner-self.

Some of the methods I’ve studied in-depth and often use in my approach to somatic coaching include:

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – This is a set of guiding principles, attitudes and techniques about real life behavior. NLP allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors as you desire. It also gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of well-being.

Hypnotherapy – I found that hypnosis facilitates emotional and or behavioral change. It creates a deeply relaxed state in which mental stress and bodily tension is reduced. In this greater state of learning, the mind is more open to the process of change because the analytical mind is far less active. In this way, you and I can safely work together to enhance mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Hakomi – Mindfulness based self study is one of the pioneering forms of body-centered therapies. Hakomi relies on mindfulness of body sensations, emotions, and memories to establish and enhance communication between conscious and unconscious, and between mind and body.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – is a body-centered psychotherapy that makes it possible for clients to discover the habitual and automatic attitudes, both physical and psychological, by which they generate patterns of experience. This gentle therapy teaches clients to follow the inherently intelligent processes of body and mind to promote healing. It is particularly helpful in working with the effects of trauma and abuse, emotional pain, and limiting belief systems. Through the use of simple experiments, unconscious attitudes are brought to consciousness where they can be examined, understood, and changed. A synthesis of somatic therapy and the Hakomi Method of Body-Centered Psychotherapy developed by Ron Kurtz in the 1980’s, and from which it evolved, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy has gained international acclaim.

The Feldenkrais Method ~ Awareness Through Movement – I have been studying and practicing the somatic reeducation method since 2010. With the Feldenkrais Method I use gentle movement and directed attention with the aim of increasing ease and range of motion, improving flexibility and coordination and ultimately rediscovering an innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. It is especially successful in training the nervous system to find new pathways around areas of damage and or disconnection.

What is your philosophy on healing?

Our society seems to view healing as a matter of fixing what’s broken. I believe that everyone has the inner resources within themselves to heal. No one is broken but there are times when we’re disconnected from ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually or emotionally.

Which is why I love somatic coaching, a process that enhances our strengths. I believe we all come equipped with an exceptional sense of inner intuition, a sense of knowing that is intimately linked to our physical experience. Unfortunately, due to our upbringing and life experiences we often learn to disconnect from that in order to adapt and survive in our environment.

As your coach my job is to help you  reconnect with your own inner experience embracing whatever arises within, with peaceful awareness and clear intention. In the process, you have the freedom to  experience joy, grief, anger, amusement, pain, energy – the full emotional range. And discover the strength of developing and cultivating a patient attitude that allows the emotions to flow according to their own natural rhythm.I believe healing can be a lifelong process as we continue to look for ways to function at a higher level in relation to our world.

Does your approach to Somatic Coaching address physical complaints?

Yes. I utilize body-centered coaching because I firmly believe there is a strong connection between mind and body. Often, the sensation of pain acts as our body’s warning sign that something is off balance and needs immediate attention.  Also, most people find that the pain experience is worse if they are anxious. I find Hypnotherapy to be very effective in decreasing pain. The hypnotic inductions gently guide you into a deeper state of relaxation, progressively relaxing muscles and nerves, while promoting a deep sense of inner calm.

With repeated use, individuals learn how to do their self-hypnosis, and their body accumulates their own form of memory for the relaxation experience. Hypnotic suggestions are also included to promote a deeper healing sleep and to enhance the positive effects of exercise, nutrition, and any medications you are using. Physical problems often lessen dramatically when we are able to relax and tap into the underlying issues.

Answers to Your Questions on Coaching

Below are my answers to the questions I hear most frequently from new coaching clients. Please take a look and discover how coaching will help you achieve your goals. If there are any questions you still need answered please feel free to click here .

Where is your office located? What is it like?

My office is located in downtown Ashland, Oregon. You’ll walk into an office with a beautiful fountain and lots of greenery. I’ve designed my office with warm colors and dark woods to enhance the sense of comfort and serenity.

Do I have to meet with you in-person or can we work together online via Skype?

Yes, your sessions can be held via Zoom. This works well for clients that don’t live near office in Ashland, Oregon or for those that like the added convenience of meeting online.

How often should I schedule my visits? Can I reach you between sessions?

Generally I recommend that we start with weekly 60 minute sessions to establish our rapport and build some momentum in our work together. Later, we may decide to meet once or twice a month depending on your circumstances. I also offer different packages depending on your needs.

I understand that it’s important that I be available between sessions. I use a voice mail system and return calls within 24 hours.

How long does coaching last?

Meaningful results require a commitment. If you hire me to be your coaching partner, you’ll be making a commitment of at least three months to yourself and to the coaching process. I’ve created three packages to accommodate different clients and their specific needs. 

Once you have achieved your desired big goals, you may wish to transition into “maintenance coaching” to ensure ongoing progress. This program offers monthly email, a 60-minute session each quarter, and additional benefits tailored for each client. 

Do you have a guarantee?

No one can guarantee the specific results a person will get from coaching, but I do guarantee your satisfaction with the coaching process. If at any time you’re not content with the direction of coaching, simply let me know and we’ll take the steps needed to return power to the coaching relationship. Your openness about what you want for your life and from coaching is vital to our continuing success.

If you feel our restructuring is not effective and at the end of our initial three months together you’ve taken all the actions you agreed to, you’ve followed through with a 100% commitment to your progress, and you are not satisfied with how you were coached, I will return the coaching fees you’ve paid to me. Bottom line: I want you to be a happy and successful client.

I’m dedicated to guiding you through the process of learning new or refining old skills to develop optimal strategies for everyday success. Together we will expand your ability to consistently make choices that contribute to your happiness and that of those around you. 

Do you offer duo or group coaching?

Being coached alongside a motivated friend, or several of them, is like having a wonderful mirror held before you. Being coached alongside your buddy(s) often improves motivation, commitment and follow-through. As your friends are coached, you’ll see your own journey reflected and discover yourself. You’ll also be sharing the fun and joy of coaching. Click here to learn more about group coaching. If you and your friends would like group coaching, contact me to learn more and how to benefit from my deep discount for group coaching.

Do you have a referral program?

After coaching begins, I would greatly appreciate a testimonial and referrals from you. If you arrange for a friend to begin coaching with me, you’ll each receive 15% off during every month you’re both being coached.


Let's get started with 30 free minutes

I invite you to learn more about me and my coaching and counseling services. Please contact me to schedule an “It starts with you!” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me, in-person, by phone or via video consultation, so we can explore our partnership.

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