“Erin Finck has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. She is a certified TCTSY-F through the 300 hour Trauma Center – Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) certification program. She has over 200 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, and additional training in addiction, mental health, criminal justice, stress relief, prenatal yoga, and the Yoga of 12 Steps Recovery. She has a BA in Psychology from Ohio University. She is in pursuit of a Master’s in Integral Health with a concentration in Yoga Therapy.”
About Erin Finck
Erin Finck has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. She is a certified TCTSY-F through the 300 hour Trauma Center – Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) certification program. She has over 200 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, and additional training in addiction, mental health, criminal justice, stress relief, prenatal yoga, and the Yoga of 12 Steps Recovery. She has a BA in Psychology from Ohio University. She is in pursuit of a Master’s in Integral Health with a concentration in Yoga Therapy.
Erin’s sessions are typically more gentle in nature. Some classes are more alignment based and others are more centered around what it’s like to be in a certain shape, rather than trying to get into a certain shape. She invites participants to cultivate a balance between steadiness and ease using the breath as a pathway between mind and body; unifying mind, body, and spirit – the essence of yoga.
I offer Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) for participants at a state behavioral health hospital and to women in recovery. I also offer a weekly Yoga for Stress Relief session intended to support those with chronic stress, anxiety, and similar conditions. I have been studying yoga independently since 2014 and formally since 2017. I began teaching in 2018. I have been practicing yoga since I was a young teenager, not even old enough to drive.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
My passion for sharing the gift of yoga has become my life’s work and purpose. My lived experience has provided me with an innate understanding of how growing one’s practice yields fruits of wellbeing. I believe that the physical practice and philosophy of yoga can cultivate the foundation upon which one can rebuild a sense of safety, autonomy, and trust within one’s body. The more I learned about the science of how yoga works, the physiological, psychological, and neurobiological underpinnings, the deeper and more wide-spread the roots of my beliefs became. It can be a powerful tool for learning how to develop skills for healing and recovery.
Yoga is a mind-body-spirit practice, whereas many of the western medical modalities are limited to cognitive-only, or physical-only. We are integrated beings. Healing and recovery require integrated, holistic methodologies if we want to be able to truly thrive. This is both the how and the why that the practice of yoga is so powerful. This is not to say that western modalities are ineffective. However, it is why I say that yoga can cultivate the foundation for one on their healing journey. Once the foundation is established, the work can begin.
My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care
I would define my approach to trauma-informed care as acknowledging the soul within the survivor. This is an awareness of the human being that survived; that this is an individual who has had an individual experience, and so what one person may need might be different from what another person might need. This is seeing a person as a person, and not as a statistic or as something that should fit into a box that describes what a survivor is.
I offer Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY). TCTSY is an evidence-based adjunctive treatment for complex, developmental trauma or chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. The TCTSY program qualified for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) database published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition to yoga, TCTSY has foundations in Trauma Theory, Attachment Theory, and Neuroscience.
The TCTSY methodology is based on central components of the hatha style of yoga, where participants engage in a series of physical forms and movements. Elements of standard hatha yoga are modified to maximize experiences of empowerment and to cultivate a more positive relationship to one’s body. TCTSY does not use physical hands-on adjustments to influence a participant’s physical form. Rather, TCTSY presents opportunities for participants to be in charge of themselves based on a felt sense of their own body.
Although TCTSY employs physical forms and movements, the emphasis is not on the external expression or appearance (i.e. doing it “right”), or receiving the approval of an external authority. Rather, the focus is on the internal experience of the participant. This shift in orientation, from the external to the internal, is a key attribute of TCTSY as a complementary treatment for complex trauma. With this approach, the power resides within the individual, not the TCTSY facilitator (TCTSY-F). Further, by focusing on the felt sense of the body to inform choice-making, TCTSY allows participants to restore their connection of mind and body and cultivate a sense of agency that is often compromised as a result of trauma.
How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Sexual Trauma
TCTSY is specially for survivors of complex trauma, which is often related to sexual abuse but also encompasses any forms of abuse and neglect that may have happened by someone they had a relationship with over a long period of time. The participant can make choices about what types of movements to make, how quickly or slowly they’d like to move, or if they’d like to move at all; restoring a sense of autonomy.
The participant is invited to notice what type of sensation they are experiencing while in the form. This process, called interoception, is what brings online regions of the brain that may have been diminished or shut down as a result of trauma. Through time and practice, the participant can get better at making choices that are best for their body, can become more adept at being able to experience and interpret sensations, thereby becoming more skillful at being able to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Modifications for Survivors
The entire approach is geared around generating safety. Doors and windows are accessible. Participants, if in a group setting, are in a circle and not side by side, with no one behind them. The facilitator does not leave their mat and will not be physically adjusting the participants. The participant is offered choice after choice after choice. They are welcomed to practice in their own way. Suggestions are offered to increase a sense of security, such as the option to adjust their posture, practice with a wall behind them, become aware of their body on the ground, etc. Additional practices such as resourcing, self-compassion, body-scans, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises are sometimes offered before, during, or after sessions.
I am required to meet certain criteria to maintain in good standing with TCTSY. Some of these requirements involve continued education. I have been under the guidance of a mentor (experienced TCTSY facilitator), and I have a supervisor at the hospital I work in.
TCTSY individual rates begin at $65 per session. Or, you can buy 5 for $250, bringing the rate down to $50 per session. TCTSY for small groups begin at $85. Yoga for Stress Relief has a scholarship fund through the studio, so this is always an option if someone needs a free class, no questions asked. Classes are offered in-person and online through Bodhi Tree Studio in Athens, OH. If you would like to have a session in-person at a particular facility or organization, I am happy to travel. Please contact me so we can discuss this further.