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“Bouncing Back From Adversity” - Leslie Gould-Barkman

“Bouncing Back From Adversity” - Leslie Gould-Barkman

MysticMag has the pleasure of chatting with Leslie Gould-Barkman, MSW, CLC, LMT, NCBMT, CHC, SIH, a seasoned practitioner known for her comprehensive and empathetic approach to holistic healing. A Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Bodyworker, Leslie formerly owned and operated “In Good Hands Therapeutic Massage,” until a debilitating injury led her to shift gears pursue a Master of Social Work degree in 2017. She’s since become certified as a Spiritual Intuitive & Healer, a Certified Life Coach, and a Clinical Heart-Centered Hypnotherapist, and continues to offer Somato Emotional Release, a form of Cranio Sacral Therapy. Drawing from personal adversities, including triumphing over cancer, Leslie compassionately guides adults through life’s challenges. Her integrative healing method addresses the mind-body-spirit connection, fostering genuine and enduring transformations for those seeking resolution, growth, and a brighter path forward.

Your holistic approach to therapy encompasses various modalities, from somatic experiencing to energy medicine and hypnotherapy. How do these integrative techniques synergize to help clients resolve emotional traumas and foster healing on multiple levels?

It takes a multipronged approach because we’re multi-pronged beings. People often think we’re just a body with a brain in charge, but I see our bodies more like the conscious versus the subconscious iceberg analogy. The brain is just the tip; the rest, the subconscious and inner wisdom, is held within our bodies. Getting present in our bodies allows us to tap into this vast pool of information stored in our sensations.

When it comes to the mind, cognitive behavioral techniques help make thoughts productive instead of spinning in circles. Traditional talk therapy equips us with tools to manage our symptoms, but to delve deeper into trauma or understand the root causes, our bodies hold crucial information. Using an approach called Somatic Experiencing, as well as Mindfulness, we can notice bodily sensations related to certain experiences which inevitably allow us to uncover valuable insights that are not accessible using only the mind, and talk therapy. The core belief in my practice is, “You gotta feel it, to heal it” so I often ask people what sensations they feel when discussing a specific memory or emotion. By connecting to our bodies, using our imagination and following where it leads, we come to a deeper understanding of our emotional triggers and pain, while allowing the body to process and metabolize the essence of the issue, thus reducing the intensity of it and shifting our relationship to it.

Then there’s the energy approach, which I refer to as “practical magic” because it is so simple yet so profound. Our bodies and energy fields store an immense amount of information about our history, and our potential. Energy medicine, or Matrix Energetics which is what I use, involves working in one’s energy field, sensing blockages or patterns while discussing their experiences. Sometimes, it triggers unexpected memories in the form of images like suddenly feeling or seeing someone’s long hair (when they don’t have long hair) while working with them and realizing it connects to a past experience that is pertinent to the work at hand. By sharing the information, I receive with the client via images, words, or even sensations in my body, we begin to explore what is being presented and how it connects with their goals for the session – which they always do! These “particles of information and potential” that are in all our energy fields are simply waiting to be discovered and hold immense opportunities for growth and healing, all we need to do is observe them and follow where they lead. Much like how nature provides us with everything we need (food, water, air, medicinal plants), the particles in our energy fields contain everything we need to help us heal and return to wholeness.

The subconscious, deeply embedded within us, finds expression in Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is most helpful when someone feels stuck in recurrent emotions and behavioral patterns that are connected to certain beliefs often created in childhood that no longer serve them but can’t seem to change. By guiding clients through a hypnotic state, and using information gathered surrounding a specific emotion, we go back in time to the moment the belief was created. These moments can be from childhood, or even when in utero, or from a past life. The revelations that occur as we enter these moments and express what was not expressed, often provide crucial insights for resetting and updating these beliefs at the very moment the beliefs were created.

I also offer Somato Emotional Release, an advanced form of CranioSacral Therapy (CST) that allows us to work with “energy cysts” in the body that contain a high emotional charge and represent unexpressed emotion. This is a hands-on approach, performed fully clothed on a massage table that starts by gently balancing the cranial bones and the spine and listening to the body as it guides us to the source of emotional pain to address it and release it from the body. This is a beautiful way to combine therapy and bodywork and further make the connection between body and mind.

So, depending on what we’re looking to address—be it trauma, a deeper understanding, energy blockages, or subconscious beliefs, unwanted behaviors, or physical pain or illness—any of these approaches can be utilized to navigate the complex depths of human experience and to discover and use our own innate healing abilities.

Your emphasis on spiritual and intuitive counseling extends beyond traditional talk therapy. Could you share how incorporating these elements, such as soul readings and energy therapy, helps individuals tap into deeper insights and shifts in perspective during their healing journey?

It’s easy for people to get stuck in their own heads, bogged down by the day-to-day details of life. But exploring the Akashic Records offers a completely different perspective. These records contain a wealth of information about our soul’s journey by allowing us access to our own “Book” through the guides whose job it is to help us find answers within those books to the questions that the client presents. Opening someone’s “book” in this library of records, often reveals fascinating details about them, sometimes even reflected on the cover of their book at the beginning of a reading. As the reading continues, it leads to more insights into the essence of who they really are and why they are here. As we delve into this work, I often notice how the appearance of the book can change from when we start the session to when we close. During the session our self-perception broadens, and we start to see ourselves as souls on a journey, expansive and with purpose, challenging the notion that we are small and limited, or that everything revolves solely around us. We get to see the big picture which often introduces concepts like divine timing, and the idea that we’re more than flesh and blood, and helps us understand things like repeating patterns in our live, our meaning, the reason for our struggles and challenges, and can allow us to more easily accept and make peace with difficult aspects of our lives. It’s about connecting to something larger than ourselves, reminding us of the expansiveness of life beyond our immediate experiences.

With guidance from the Lords, Masters, Teachers, and Loved Ones who guard the “library”, They take us on a journey that assists us in embracing this broader perspective and then using this newfound information to catalyze personal shifts. Oracle card readings, a simple yet profound tool, often form part of this process. They offer insights into problems, potential solutions, and the likely outcome. Both Readings are accompanied by energy work as we integrate the information learned and insights gained.

Doing energy work, by itslef or during an Akashic record Reading or an Oracle Card Reading, is strikingly simple yet profoundly impactful. People often feel remarkably relieved and grounded after a session, shedding stress and worry. By allowing the energy to guide the process, we uncover blockages and address them, letting these particles of potential lead the way to healing.

This approach aligns with scientific concepts, echoed in Quantum Physics, yet it’s a science some are hesitant to embrace fully as it challenges traditional views by emphasizing the role of energy in our existence. It’s not about textbooks or degrees; it’s about engaging with the energy as well as the client, being open to improvisation, and embracing a “yes, and” mentality. While scientists may be knowledgeable, they tend to be rigid and cerebral, and can’t help but see this approach as “woo woo” regrdless of it’s effectiveness. Einstein, the most famous and accomplished of all Quantum Physicists, was a huge proponent of energy (even coining the phrase “everything is energy”), as well as the use of imagination, so it’s always a bit baffling as to why mainstream scientists are so reluctant to embrace it.

Dr. Dan Siegel, a well-known psychiatrist, neuroscientist, lecturer and author, ventured into exploring the topic of energy throughout his career and has become an expert in the field. He speaks of encountering resistance from his colleagues when trying to merge these concepts into scientific fields. It seems like Dr. Siegal, Einstein, myself and other energy workers are on a mission in sharing the undeniable truth that everything is energy and to ignore or deny this truth removes one of the most powerful opportunities to heal ourselves. By seeing ourselves as “energy beings with a body”, we can begin to recognize this fundamental truth and bridge the gap between traditional scientific viewpoints and the profound insights offered by energy work and the exploration of the self beyond the physical and mental realms.

Your Trim-Life program focuses on subconscious reprogramming for weight management and mindfulness. How does this approach delve into the emotional triggers behind unhealthy eating patterns, and how does it aid participants in creating a healthier relationship with food and their bodies?

So, with the Trim-Life program, our primary focus is on unraveling the messaging many of us absorbed about food when growing up. It often ties back to a lack of nourishment in the form of the love we never got, what I refer to as a “nourishment barrier.” When we don’t receive the love we need, we inadvertently create a block, and food steps in as a surrogate source of comfort. It becomes how we “nourish” ourselves, seeking that emotional fulfillment we missed out on.

Weight can also act as a barrier, sometimes becoming an excuse for not feeling loved or for various other reasons. It’s about understanding what weight represents uniquely to each person—exploring eating habits, the messages ingrained in us, and our personal histories.

We also dive into the physiological aspects like metabolism and hormones that might contribute to food issues. Hypnotherapy plays a role here. For instance, we can create a “hunger gauge” from zero to ten, using brief hypnotherapy sessions that individuals listen to repeatedly. This helps reprogram habits by aiming for a feeling of satisfaction around five on the hunger scale, neither too hungry nor too full. The goal is to learn where hunger truly starts, distinguishing between different levels of hunger and tuning into our bodies’ cues.

Another significant part involves revisiting the past, seeking out the moments where certain beliefs about ourselves were formed—like feeling unloved or flawed, or our caregivers using food as a reward, or as a substitute for their emotional presence. These beliefs shape our behaviors, sometimes leading to patterns like overeating as a means of self-comfort. It’s not always directly related to food; sometimes, it’s a belief about ourselves that causes us unintentional harm.

As part of the program, we explore various eating strategies—like eating blindfolded or using smaller plates—transitioning from practical techniques to addressing subconscious memories and everything in between. It’s a comprehensive approach to untangling the complex relationship we have with food and our emotions.

As someone who has faced personal adversity and triumphed over challenges like cancer, how has this experience influenced your approach to therapy, especially in helping clients navigate their own adversities and personal setbacks?

When it comes to emotional or physical pain, illness, and suffering in life, we can either see it as something happening “to us”, or “for us”. By seeing it through the latter lens, it becomes an opportunity for learning and healing. Without challenges, we wouldn’t be driven to improve or understand ourselves better. Each of us enters this world with a purpose or challenge to work through. For instance, some highly sensitive people might be born into families that are insensitive, almost like a test to make us stronger and more resilient. Many empaths have this experience. It’s like a struggle to prove ourselves, so we have the opportunity to learn to fight for, accept and love who we are and create strong boundaries between ourselves and others. This reframes the situation so that it is happening “for us” instead of “to us”, and helps us to step out of feeling like a victim, and into a more powerful and enlightened version of ourselves as we find resources, out of necessity, that we never knew we had.

Disease and illness, as I see them, often have emotional components. There’s a growing understanding in the mental health community linking emotional experiences to physical health. Theres a test that the mental health community uses called the “Adverse Childhood Experiences”, or ACE test. The brief test asks questions about our early childhoods in the categories of trauma, poverty, abuse, racism, and neglect, and can determine the impact these adverse experiences have on health outcomes. This well respected and researched test proves that these untreated, negative emotional experiences in childhood can have detrimental effects on one’s health, causing everything from heart or pulmonary conditions, to chronic illnesses. Some people get defensive about the notion that our unexplored or unexpressed emotions may be the cause of their physical ailments. But it’s not about blaming oneself, it’s simply a way that can encourage us to explore the emotional aspects tied to these conditions and accept the invitation to physical and emotional healing that it is being presented to us.

My own journey through cancer and a severe back injury pushed me toward a great deal of emotional healing. I realized my body was signaling a need for emotional resolutions in many areas of my life, which I may not have been aware of if not for these physical challenges. I’ve learned to listen more carefully to my body and respond to its’ “ whisper” (ie a minor pain), before it gets louder which has helped to prevent other potential health problems. The louder the warnings must get, and the longer it takes for us to take notice, the more likely an imbalance will become an illness or disease, so best to listen to and heed our body’s warnings as much, and as soon, as possible.

Sometimes, illness can serve as a distraction from emotional pain. Dr. John Sarno’s book, “The Divided Mind,” delves into this concept—how our bodies might create pain or illness to avoid emotional distress. Chronic illnesses often become this way of coping with unexpressed or unexplored emotional pain, albeit unconsciously. It’s a complex interplay between our emotional states, our bodies, and our overall experiences.

Sometimes people ask me why I chose to call my practice “Ladybug Body-Mind Healing. During my battle with cancer, the presence of ladybugs became a symbol for me. These little creatures typically stick to the ceiling in winter but that year, they surrounded my nightstand and covered everything on it as I lied in bed recovering. They seemed to hover around me, almost like tiny angels offering support and comfort through a challenging time and thus become the inspiration for my healing practice.

So, suffering, illness, and emotional struggles are all intertwined aspects of our journey. They prompt us to look deeper within, to address emotional wounds, and sometimes, unexpected symbols or moments remind us that we’re not alone in this process.

Your belief in the mind-body connection is evident in your approach to therapy. Can you elaborate on how unresolved emotions and imbalances within the body can impact mental and physical health, and how your methods aim to address these underlying issues for overall well-being?

Our beings are multifaceted—we’re essentially energy beings inhabiting physical bodies. The subconscious, this incredible reservoir within us, not only lets us access any moment in our lives but also extends to past lives and the journeys of other souls. When it comes to trauma, it’s deeper than what our minds can resolve alone. The body plays a crucial role; it knows what we need, guiding us through the healing process.
In approaching traumatic experiences, there are methods in Somatic Experiencing called titration and pendulation. Titration involves gradually touching on the trauma, starting with small doses. It’s about not overwhelming the body, which tends to fight or shut down when confronted with intense experiences. For instance, we might guide someone to mentally reach back and just grab a molecule of that traumatic experience, while observing its effects on them but with less intensity. By keeping it manageable and incremental, it feels less overwhelming and makes healing possible.

Pendulation, another technique, involves oscillating between the “red” (trauma) and the “blue” (a safe, happy place). By navigating back and forth, from the traumatic memory to a comforting one, the integration begins. This process helps ease the intensity of the trauma gradually, making it more approachable and less distressing over time.
Crucially, the therapist or facilitator’s presence is vital. Trauma often happens without witnesses, leaving us isolated and alone. Having someone there to witness and create connection is immensely powerful. It fosters a sense of support and safety, while changing the circumstances around the event as the client uses their imagination to relive the moment but with a caring and supportive advocate by their side. This allows for resolution of the trauma, and for healing to begin

Connection lies at the heart of this work. Often, childhood experiences that are devoid of connection lead to a disconnection with oneself and others. The healing journey involves reestablishing this internal bond, embracing, and reintegrating all the parts of ourselves that experienced pain or trauma. It’s about reconnecting with the wounded 11-year-old, or any other wounded part of ourselves that needs acknowledgment and care. This process of reconnection forms the crux of healing and growth as we reunite these parts and find our wholeness again.

If you would like to find out more about Leslie Gould-Barkman, please visit https://www.ladybugbodymindhealing.com/

Ladybug Body-Mind Healing
Integrative Body-Mind Counseling and Coaching
Spiritual & Intuitive Guidance
Akashic Record Reading
Energy Healing
Somato Emotional Release
Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy.

We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links. Advertising Disclosure
MysticMag contains reviews that were written by our experts and follow the strict reviewing standards, including ethical standards, that we have adopted. Such standards require that each review will take into consideration independent, honest and professional examination of the reviewer. That being said, we may earn a commission when a user completes an action using our links, at no additional cost to them. On listicle pages, we rank vendors based on a system that prioritizes the reviewer’s examination of each service but also considers feedback received from our readers and our commercial agreements with providers.This site may not review all available service providers, and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
About the author
Sarah Kirton
Sarah is a keen and passionate advocate of the spiritual and healing components within the mystical realm of the world we live in. She resides in Cape Town, South Africa, where she enjoys spending time in the outdoors, kite surfing, and playing guitar.