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Hugh Churchward


Hugh Churchward is a Somatic Psychotherapist and Advanced Practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy® who is based in Sydney and Wollongong and is also part of the Body-Focused Team at STARTTS.

Hugh has had an enduring interest in trauma and the ways in which it can be embodied after living and studying nursing in the UK. There he was involved with refugees from the former Yugoslavia, British army peace-keepers and journalists covering the conflict and witnessing the effects those experiences had on them. On returning to Australia in the mid 1990’s Hugh undertook a five year training in Somatic Psychotherapy. He then studied further to become a practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy® as he sought to deepen his understanding of the effects of trauma and how we can harness the physiological resources people have as they resolve and integrate their traumatic experiences.  Since then Hugh has been exploring how the techniques and principles can inform our work in both trauma and acute/chronic pain.  Ortho-Bionomy® is the cornerstone of his approach in working towards trauma resolution – informed by his experience and training as a somatic psychotherapist.

As well as working with STARTTS he maintains a private practice in Thirroul and Bondi Junction. Hugh is a member of Society of Ortho-Bionomy® Australia (SOBA) and PACFA.

Abstract – Clinical Master Class – 13 May 2020

The Effects of Chronic Pain

Many of our clients present with chronic pain that can include headaches, general aches and muscular tension which may be the result of injury – traumatic or otherwise – torture or with no specific physical cause. It is often accompanied by other health conditions such as diabetes, cardiac and gastro-intestinal issues and auto-immune conditions.

Perhaps because of the complexity of the picture it is common for our clients to focus strongly on what they know to be the physical cause of their pain while ignoring the many other factors that are contributing to it – such as the effects of their traumatic experiences, dislocation and loss, adjustment to a new cultural milieu and language as well as financial and other daily stressors. These factors and the capacity that the client has for integrating what are often overwhelming experiences will have an impact on how the tissues of the body organise. The ways in which the tissues respond often reflects the person’s capacity for emotional regulation and expression – which also affects their cognition.

By drawing on the experiences of one Iraqi woman this presentation will discuss how paying attention to the movements and sensations that feel supportive and give a sense of ease help the tissues to organise around comfort and pleasure instead of responding to an ongoing sense of threat. As her felt sense of safety strengthened she was gradually able to recognise other factors that were contributing to her pain. This opened up other avenues of working with her pain while also helping her to integrate her traumatic experiences.

Abstract – Clinical Master Class – 8 November 2017

Body Based Approaches as Entry Point into Refugee Trauma Survivor’s Internal State

The emergence of neuroscience has revealed to us how closely the body and brain inform each other. There is a growing realization that dysregulated physiological systems are the bedrock of psychological distress. It makes sense, therefore, for trauma informed practice to be inclusive of body based approaches as another entry point into the client’s internal state. This has proven to be particularly valuable in complex trauma presentations where the mind has been unable to process the intensity of the experiences in order to survive.

In this case presentation Hugh Churchward will elaborate on various methodologies and approaches that can be utilised in such work. The client’s journey towards body awareness and the ability to self regulate will be explored in detail, as will the various methodologies and approaches that were utilised in this process. Every person has a unique way that they embody trauma and it is important to have a broad range of tools to work with. This can be slow and delicate work but ultimately very rewarding for the client and therapist alike.

View at Owl Talks Lectures

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