“Kahlila Kramer believes in pulling from multiple modalities and putting together a personalized plan for each of her clients. She assists clients who have anxiety, a history of trauma or depression and when appropriate, collaborates with a Clinical Social Worker to make sure that her clients are getting all of their needs met. Through yoga, Pilates, movement, and meditation, she attempts to meet her clients where they are that day and create a personalized plan for them. Kahlila approaches each session from a place of equality with her client, where she can learn from them as well as bring her skill set to the session. She believes that each person is their own best teacher and while she can guide the session, she is always open to feedback and dialogue with her clients.”
Website: www.movewellbk.com | Practice Location: Brooklyn, NY
About Kahlila Kramer
I first started doing yoga as a child and became serious about it at age 16 when I studied with an amazing Hatha yoga teacher named Sita Rose, who was also a Phoenix Rising Yoga therapist. She gave me the first inklings of how one could combine talk therapy with body-based modalities. I moved to New York in 1998, during the AIDS epidemic, and worked in the Bronx as a medical assistant with Citywide Needle Exchange and Mt. Sinai Hospital. I was very interested in health care inequities and providing care to marginalized communities. I began working at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Manhattan, an LGBTQ clinic providing free services to low-income and uninsured people. There, I was an HIV counselor and case manager. The rates of HIV infections were very high and I found that I was working with people through a very pivotal moment in their lives and there was often trauma associated with the counseling session. I wanted to go deeper into understanding trauma so at age 30, I was admitted into John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and received my master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. During field work for my degree I worked with Safe Horizon in the Domestic Violence program, and for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. There, I provided counseling and victims services for the Sex Crimes and Crimes Against Children Bureaus.
After my son was born in 2007, I left the DA’s office, but still wanted a way to work with people but from a more body-centered approach. I remembered the work that I had done back in Berkeley with Sita Rose and started my own investigations into mind-body connections. I received my personal trainer certification through AFAA and went on to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training through YogaFit. I really enjoyed the YogaFit model because it starts from a place of working safely in the body—in each person’s individual body and not a one-size-fits-all model. After completing the 200-hour training I was working one-on-one with clients doing yoga, Pilates, and strength training and my interest in trauma-sensitive yoga deepened. I returned to YogaFit and completed their 100-hour Yoga for Warriors, a trauma-sensitive yoga certification. I am now studying Reiki and have completed my Reiki Level 1 certification. I also completed Movement for Trauma Level 1 with Jane Clapp.
I have worked with people who have experienced sexual violence and trauma through my work as an HIV counselor and case manager. Then after graduating with my master’s degree in Forensic Psychology I worked at Safe Horizon in the domestic violence program and then went to work at the Kings County District Attorney’s office as a counselor and advocate in the Sex Crimes and Crimes Against Children’s bureaus. I worked closely with people coming through the criminal justice system as survivors of recent sexual assault or intimate partner violence, providing counseling and advocacy. I assisted clients in navigating the grand jury and preparing to testify at trial. I also ran an alternative-to-incarceration group for women arrested for sex work. I saw first-hand the violence in their lives. The women I counseled were often victims of sex trafficking who had no autonomy over their bodies. We worked together on gentle yoga and movement and for one moment in the day, they felt in control of their bodies and breath.
Ultimately after the birth of my first child, which brought up some of my own past history of feeling unsafe and out of control in my own body, I felt the need to leave the DA’s office and find a new way to work with clients. I got my personal trainer certification and a 200-hour yoga teacher training. I began doing yoga and core work with small groups of new moms, some of whom were dealing with post-partum depression. This led to completing another 100-hour trauma-informed yoga training. I now work mostly with private clients, many of whom have histories of trauma, doing yoga, movement and meditation.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
I believe in social justice and ending violence against all people, but in particular I see the violence that marginalized people experience—women, people of color, the LGBTQ communities, immigrants, children. I want to provide an affordable healing space for my clients to work in their bodies and reconnect to parts of themselves that they may have had to shut off or avoid in order to feel safe or survive.
My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care
I continue to stay up to date on current theories and practices related to trauma-informed care and I come from a client-centered approach. I do not have an agenda. I follow the lead of my clients, and adapt the session as needed, making room for choices. The locus of control is in the clients hands. I continue my studies, referring often to best practice methods I learn from peer practitioners, and refer clients when needed to other healing professionals. I share my studio space with a LCSW with whom I collaborate in developing individualized healing strategies; and I continuously work on my own healing and growth.
Each of my sessions is curated to fit the needs of my client on that particular day. I utilize my training in yoga, Pilates, dance, and movement to create a personalized one-hour session. In my private studio space, my clients and I usually work barefoot on a mat with yoga props when appropriate. With some clients we do more strength training; for others, we do mostly gentle yoga and mindfulness practices. I am interested in the basics of functional movement and breath, believing in the power of simply sitting still, being open, asking questions, offering choices, and going slowly.
I provide one-on-one sessions, semi-privates, and small group classes. I work from my home, in clients’ homes, and at a yoga studio in Brooklyn. I approach each session from a place of compassion. I work in a non-judgmental way, helping my clients to have self-acceptance and love for their bodies. I work with clients who have experienced trauma and approach all sessions in a trauma-sensitive manner.
How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Trauma
During the course of my practice, I have worked with people who are dealing with serious issues, such as anxiety, depression or with a history of trauma and violence. I believe that my approach to holistic treatment involves creating a session that is personal to each client, and that encompasses different modalities. I use yoga, movement, mindfulness practices, meditation, dance and relaxation techniques, as well as my training in forensic psychology and counseling to make sure that I am creating a session that is as comprehensive as possible. I believe in respecting my clients’ needs and allowing room to change what we are doing or stop altogether.
Modifications for Survivors
I believe in transparency and open dialogue, and, I talk a lot about personal space and autonomy. Each client is ultimately in charge of their session, which can stop at any point or change directions. I provide a variety of options and modifications so that clients can make informed treatment choices, particularly if something does not feel right in their body. I always offer reasoning for the work that we do, using trauma-sensitive language, and I continually ask for feedback. I refer clients to another practitioner if it looks like their needs will be better met by a team. I discuss their past experiences with trauma as much as they would like to share and offer resources and books and referrals as needed. I discuss the session with them upfront and will ask them for feedback after so that I can always be improving and growing my skills.
Additional Areas of Interest and/or Expertise
I worked at the Brooklyn DA’s office providing counseling and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. Most of the women that were victims of trafficking were also undocumented immigrant women from all over the world, who had experienced multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence but also financial violence and using the fear of being deported to keep them captive. In my work with the LGBTQ community, I found that the discrimination and violence members of this community had experienced based on gender identity or sexual orientation was monumental. Often, I found that they had never had a positive experience with a health care provider or counselor. It felt paramount to create a space where they felt seen, heard, respected, and treated with dignity.
All of my sessions are sliding-scale, and I try to work with clients regardless of financial means. I have received grants through the Kings County DA’s office to offer free yoga to victims of domestic violence, trafficking, and staff members who work with these populations. I also work with other practitioners in my space and offer sliding-scale rental fees to them so that in turn can offer sliding-scale options to their clients. I believe so strongly that all of this work should accessible to all people, that healing and self-care is not for the rich and famous. It is for everybody and it is so important to me to make these practices available to marginalized people and those who really need it.