Somatics with Kathy Kerber Dec. 12

The Certified Hanna Somatic Educator with Holland Somatics talked about her distinctive service addressing muscle pain.

Katherine Kerber, a Certified Hanna Somatic Educator with Holland Somatics , talked about her distinctive service addressing muscle pain during a Dec. 12, 2019 appearance.

Holland business offers alternative physical therapy

Katherine Kerber left Silicon Valley job to become certified practitioner in somatics.

Katherine Kerber was suffering from debilitating back pain for more than two decades with no recovery success.

The pain came from scoliosis that would cause flareups every six months or so that put her out of commission for four days.

Exhausting all other resources, Kerber met with a somatics practitioner for eight sessions over three months in 1999. She said those sessions resulted in years with no discomfort that continues today.

After years without pain, Kerber left a Silicon Valley corporate marketing career of 25 years to embark on an intensive three-year training course to become a certified practitioner with the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training.

In 2016, she moved to West Michigan and launched Holland Somatics, located at 291 W. Lakewood Blvd. in Holland. She has been practicing somatics for 11 years.

Somatics is a type of movement-based physical therapy based upon neurophysiology, the science of how the brain, muscles and skeleton interact. It stresses “internal physical perception and experience” as opposed to pain-killing drugs and surgery.

Kerber said the therapy focuses on root causes of pain — which could be any number of injuries or stress from throughout one’s entire life — rather than treating the pain symptoms.

“It works for those who want to do the things that they would normally do without fear of an opioid addiction, undergoing surgeries or accepting a lifetime of suffering,” Kerber said. Before pursuing such options as joint surgery and going into debt, Kerber would encourage patients to first seek her help.

Kerber said the therapy looks at posture and considers how the brain creates holding patterns in the body based on standing and sitting patterns throughout the day, whether sitting at a computer or using a standing desk.

“If you hold a certain way of sitting for hours, your brain will keep you in that condition even when you’re done working,” Kerber said. “You’ve trained it, and you don’t even know you’re doing it.”

She said the movement exercises she prescribes are meant to reset those patterns, such as slouching, and free the body of the pain and tension.

“Everyone’s looking for a magic pill or a magic way to hack through a problem,” Kerber said. “I would say that this technique is probably the best.”

Kerber said some of her clients have been dealing with pain for 10 or 20 years without knowing where it’s coming from. She calls herself a “muscle detective” because she works to figure out where it’s coming from and how to fix it.

“When you have a big muscle tension problem in one area of the body, the other side of the body eventually gets into like a tug of war to try to hold you up. And so, we need to address all the players, and that’s where the muscle detective work comes in,” Kerber said. “You can’t read a book to figure it out.”

Kerber said she believes her own pain came from a car accident she was in when she was 3 years old. She said she experienced immediate results after the first session, which released the tension in her back, allowing her spine to straighten and her left hip to fall into line with her right hip, therefore lengthening her left leg.

“You can actually have a fall out of a tree as a kid and you don’t break any bones, and you think you’re okay,” Kerber said. “That could be the start of some tension problem you’ll have with you most of your life.”

One of Kerber’s patients, Holland interior designer Mary LaBarge, realized something was wrong when her shoulder and right arm stopped working as well as they had. The discomfort eventually became an unbearable pain that had her pursuing every treatment imaginable.

LaBarge then met Kerber, who prescribed some regular movement exercises. LaBarge said she experienced full recovery after four sessions with Kerber in 2017. She went from thinking about early retirement to returning to the work she loves.

Each patient usually visits Kerber for several sessions. Following a 60-minute session, Kerber crafts a homework curriculum of low-intensity daily exercises to encourage further improvement.

Kerber is gifting a limited number of free 20-minute consultations at her practice. Those interested may visit Holland Somatics online at 

Kerber welcomes corporate clients, as well.

See original article here.

Holland Somatics

Holland’s Muscle Detective conquers chronic pain from within. We welcome a conversation with the CEO of Holland Somatics, Katherine Kerber. She joins us to discuss this only certified Somatic practice to offer treatment in the Great Lakes region.

See original article here.

Adding Biofeedback Training to Hanna Somatics

I have completed a 5-day biofeedback training course held by Stens Corp. It was an exciting learning experience! I was very motivated to take this training, as I’ve found that some clients have difficulty with the releasing phase of their somatic movements. Almost everyone is really good at contracting muscles, but for some, the release part isn’t easy and can in some cases result in further tightening.

Adding muscle biofeedback information during a somatics session enables you to see on a computer screen how effectively you are slowly putting the “brakes on” your contracted muscle(s). Once you start to “see” and “feel” what’s going on, you may better understand, “oh, this is how it feels to slowly release tension. I wasn’t aware of that before.” Once the background tension level is low enough, you don’t need the biofeedback tools because you’ll be able to sense it for yourself. I look forward to helping my clients build more confidence when doing their movements. More to follow as I get closer to announcing the release of this new service!

What I’m Learning from Doing Hanna Somatics with Horses, Part 2

Since beginning my Equine Hanna Somatics training 2015, I’ve become aware that my work with horses has positively impacted my entire practice. In Part 2 of my 3-part series on how horses are enriching my experience as a Hanna Somatics practitioner, I’ll explore something I need to do more in my work with horses and also with human clients.

Part 2 – Slow down.

In Equine Hanna Somatics, we do not want to lift a horse’s leg, but rather to suggest the intended movement and have them follow our lead. Early on, I actually tried to help the horses lift their legs, but quickly realized that my back was no where near strong enough to accomplish this on a regular basis, (haha), nor was it very effective for the horse.

I’m now learning to work more in “horse-time.” They will get to it when they are ready. And like when I suggest a movement for humans, sometimes they need a few moments to “process” what I’ve asked them to do. Horses also need processing time, and often they need more time than humans.

One of the more challenging parts of a session can be after the horse releases the leg we are working with but doesn’t fully step its weight through that leg. This is a necessary part of an equine session. I can coax them to do this, or the owner can walk the horse a bit, but this part of a session can add quite a bit of time – especially when we have quite a few different lifts to accomplish. Now, I watch for signs of what may be happening as they are standing there and approach it with a more curious mind before encouraging them to shift their weight. This can also be seen as “processing” time, which can provide all sorts of interesting clues as to why they are doing what they are doing.  

I believe that these experiences with horses have helped me provide extra time for relaxation during sessions with my human clients. We’ve all had moments during a session when we have a “big” release. It’s good to slow down and let yourself luxuriate in this experience, to feel the change and just “be.” I can now sense some of these subtle cues from clients’, as I’ve learned to do with the horses.

What I’m Learning from Doing Hanna Somatics with Horses, Part 1

Since beginning my training last May in Equine Hanna Somatics, I’ve learned so much and have become aware that my work with horses has positively impacted my entire practice. In this 3-part series, I’ll explore how my Hanna Somatics work with horses has enriched my understanding of the potential provided by Hanna Somatics and how I believe it has improved my overall effectiveness as a practitioner.

Part 1 – Check your agenda at the door.

When I first began doing Somatics with horses, I often had a goal in mind. For example, I might arrive with the intention of practicing a particular protocol learned in the training. And, sometimes I could make that happen. Other times, the horse had his/her own ideas, and I finally realized that’s quite alright.

Now, I’m learning that if I enter each session with an open and calm mind, I may pick up on subtle (and also not-so-subtle) directional movements that a horse communicates while we’re working together. It’s not unusual to find that horses move easily into their “tension patterns,” clearly showing where they need help. For example, if their back legs are “cow-hocked” (i.e., the main joint halfway down the back legs is bent and angled toward the other), they may move in that direction when I initiate a move with that leg. And, this may have nothing to do with the protocol that I had in mind for that session. Every horse has unique muscular tension patterns, and they need to be addressed. I’m now more willing to go with the flow and focus on what the horse needs most, and then come back and do the other moves in the protocol later on in that session.

This learning has had a profound effect on my sessions with human clients. While it’s very helpful to ask my client questions during intake to help guide our approach for the session, the initial movement assessment I do with them on the table gives me similar, subtle information that I’ve learned to take in with the horses. Recently, I’ve found that this part of my Hanna Somatics work is so very important, as patterns can be quite unique to individuals. If I take the time to explore a bit, I can often uncover the mystery of that client’s pattern, and help him/her learn to release it and re-establish more efficient movement.

In my next post in this series, I’ll explore how my learnings regarding the timing and flow of my sessions with horses have helped my overall practice.

Feeling Stressed? Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body!

When the world seems to move too fast and you feel like things are getting out of control, you may find that a simple change of focus helps. Often it’s our mind that gets overwhelmed with the endless chatter of “to do” lists. It’s probably one of the main reasons people have trouble sleeping. Here’s a tip for changing your focus. Get out of your head and check in with your body. What do I mean? Well, stop thinking for a few minutes and turn your attention inward.

  • Is your breathing rate calm or does it seem faster than it needs to be for the activity you’re doing?
  • Can you sense your heart beat, does it feel too fast?
  • How about your muscles, do you feel pain, tension anywhere?
  • Do you feel like you want to run?
  • Do your palms feel sweaty?
  • How about the temperature of your hands/feet, colder than you’d like?

These are all simple ways to determine if your nervous system is tuned up, as if reacting to a stress stimulus. Living in this state 24/7 can exhaust your mind and body, yet many of us live this way without any knowledge that this is occurring.

After your inward body assessment, lie on your back with your knees bent, arms alongside your body. Breathe in and out a few times. Begin to feel what moves in your body as you breathe. Can you feel your ribcage moving? Do you notice that with each inhale your lower back slightly arches and then as you breathe out, your back flattens? Gradually try to assist this movement, slightly exaggerating that move. Consciously arch your lower back, lifting it about an inch or so, as you inhale and then gradually let your back relax as you exhale. Do this for move for about 8-10 minutes. Then, check in with your body again as you did with the assessment above. If you heard your belly make digestive noises, this is a very positive sign. It means you’ve switched over from the “stressed” side of your autonomic nervous system (sympathetic) to parasympathetic, which is the rest/recovery zone (which also turns on digestion). You might feel more relaxed overall. The best part about doing this is that you will relax your low back muscles, lengthening them, which eases overall movement in your body. And, hopefully, you will have left your head for awhile to focus on your body.

I hope you can try this the next time you feel stressed out. And, afterward, take a few moments to look out the window or go outside and observe something natural that catches your attention, a bird, flower, or perhaps just the clouds moving across the sky.

Do Somatic Movements Make You Happy?

I’m going to reference a study from Dec of 2005 that I recently ran across. The study involved people with chronic depression and looked at the effect of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy conducted over a 3-month timeframe (

VNS involves “applying mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. These pulses are supplied by a device something like a pacemaker,” (

They measured hormones to determine effects of the VNS therapy. They found that “some measures of cortisol response were elevated before treatment and were reduced to normal over the study period.” In addition, they found “significant reductions in depression scores over the study period.”

While a reduction in depression scores doesn’t automatically result in happiness, one could imagine that living with a lighter sense of being opens up the possibility to experience more happiness in daily life.

How does Somatics fit into this? The way we do our Somatics involves specific breathing and muscle movement that stimulates the vagus nerve. If you are doing your movements and you experience a sense of calmness, digestive sounds from your stomach, longer exhales than inhales, calmer heart beat, you are most likely entering the parasympathetic side of your autonomic nervous system. This is not so much a happy state, although it is the rest, recovery side of the nervous system and can help improve your immune response, digestive issues, reproductive issues, etc. It’s really nice to let your body operate in that mode for some time each day, as a sort of self-healing process. The minute you go into the stress response (sympathetic activation), you turn on all the chemical and physical responses that go along with that state, which are the reverse of the parasympathetic activation.  I’d also like to mention that helping your body go into the parasympathetic state can be achieved by doing Somatic movements, without requiring the VNS electrical impulse therapy mentioned above (thereby also reducing your carbon footprint as there is no electricity required, haha). I cannot promise that doing your Somatics will improve your happiness quotient, but let’s just imagine that the cells within your body may feel at least a little bit happier 🙂


Rethinking “thinking” for the New Year

I listened to a podcast recently that really captured my attention. In it, Tim Ferriss, noted bio/work/life hacker interviewed Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and economist. Right off the bat, Eric said, “The world is meant to be jail broken.” I don’t think he was talking about opening all prisons, but rather freeing us from mundane thinking because of our experiences and beliefs in “how things should work.” My brain heard, “don’t limit your thinking,” which I really like. Eric referred to people “creating prisons of their own making.” I get that. If we are locked in our thinking and can’t come up with an original thought, we become reliant on others and stymied in our potential, both in home and work life, and the world suffers too.

He went onto talk about our culture’s obsession with reaching consensus. “There is a Washington consensus, a climate consensus. There’s no arithmetic consensus,” it just is… Consensus building-thinking is the antithesis of original thought. Perhaps that’s why I find Facebook boring. For me, I see unending patterns of people trying to reach consensus with each other (Like “me” or Like “this,” over and over…bleh). Being credentialed with multiple degrees and years of experience in the same field can lead to even greater consensus building. Yikes! The world needs more “Renaissance” people!

How can we hope to solve the tough problems of our world with consensus-building thinking leading the way? Do you think Steve Jobs used consensus-building to create the iPhone? No way. Do people intentionally think original thoughts these days? I’ve decided to make it my New Year’s resolution to spend at least a few minutes every day doing some original thinking, on any topic I desire. I’m sure that will be good for me, and who knows, maybe I’ll build my anti-consensus building thinking muscles! Wouldn’t it be great it if lead me to make a new discovery in my Somatics practice? Enjoy the year ahead and hope you can break free of your thinking boundaries!

Wishing Much Comfort for You this Christmas!

Wishing you a season of peacefulness, warmth and love for you and your family!