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Heartseed Health in Boulder, CO is an acupuncture and counseling practice offering holistic and integrative care. We can support you with medicine grounded in spirit and rooted in science.



Healing Trauma and Post-Traumatic Growth - with Katie Asmus, a nature based somatic psychotherapist

Dr. Noah K. Goldstein, DACM L.Ac.


In this episode, we talk to Katie Asmus at the Somatic Wilderness Therapy Institute . Katie practices as a somatic, nature-based and adventure psychotherapist, life coach, educator, mentor, quest guide and workshop facilitator. In addition to having lead educational and therapeutic wilderness programs for the past 28 years, Katie focused her graduate thesis on body-centered interventions for working with trauma and she's presented internationally in these fields of study for the past 18 years.

During our conversation, we follow Katie through her professional journey, that began with her as an outdoor educator at Outward Bound, and we hear how that work eventually moved her into the realm of psychotherapy and working with trauma as she does today (Full transcript available below).

“I was working outdoors at Outward Bound and [other places with] similar type programs and seeing people have profound experiences. And the question in my heart was, ‘how do I help people integrate this [change] on a deeper level for ongoing, life change.’”

Major themes include:

Katie shares how she ended up finding her career.

“I realized that  if I followed the shoulds, I would end up in a place where I was qualified to do something that I thought I should do versus what I was really passionate about.”

Katie explains in depth what trauma is and how it impacts the brain, and why and how trauma causes us to see the world as a threat.

“When we have a trauma response, it's really triggered by the survival parts of our brain that, when there's a threat or perceived threat, there's a physiological response of adrenaline and cortisol that gets dumped into the bloodstream to the big muscles to fight or flee….if this activation has been going on and been continuously perpetuated in the physiologic physiology over time, how do we recognize the activation and support it through mindfulness through being in the present moment, through giving our bodies permission to move to actually sequence that energy out.”

We talk about how and why trauma healing feels disorienting.

“When we're shifting out of the trauma feels terrifying and unfamiliar. There really is a disorientation that happens that doesn't feel right.”

We explore the parallels of the Eastern and Western models of trauma.

Katie explains what EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is and how it helps with the process of healing trauma.

“...the other part of EMDR is reprocessing the traumatic memories. It's a very particular protocol that brings in awareness on what is it you want to work on, the incident or the issue, and looking at what beliefs we've taken on about ourselves and how that lives in our body is what emotions are connected to it.”

We look at how trauma can cause us to shut off parts of ourselves and make our lives more limited.

“I think often when we have an experience of trauma, what happens is we shut off particular parts of ourselves or limit our lives. [We say] ‘I'm not going to go do that anymore.’ And we then we have a false sense of safety. And things can get more and more limited in our lives over time.”


We see how sometimes traumas can serve as an opportunity for growth.

“...anytime we're pushed into an experience that awakens us to a reality that there's something deeper... that's where a lot of beautiful growth expansion happens.”

Katie explains the “Rite of Passage” that can follow a traumatic experience and the possibilities it creates for post-traumatic growth.

“The truth is, you can't ever get back to where you were [before a traumatic experience], but what's possible is that you can make a whole new mosaic out of these pieces of shattered could actually come to a place in life with that much more understanding wisdom and compassion.”

Noah and Katie draw parallels to the process of becoming a parent as a Rite of Passage.

In this interview, Katie mentions Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger book as influential in her understanding and practice of somatic-based trauma work.

“When we can understand what's actually happening in the trauma response, then we can also understand how to heal that, how to help people shift the neurophysiology.”

If you or a loved one have been impacted by Trauma, please connect with us to learn more about how we can support you.

Name *

Full Transcript thanks to :

Noah Goldstein

Hi, and welcome to the Heartseed Health Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Noah Goldstein, and we're here to talk to inspiring people about heart-opening, soul-enlivening body-enhancing practices intended to help us cultivate health and enhance our lives. Today we're here with Katie Asmus.

Katie describes her work as bringing forth the innate wisdom within everybody and opening people's minds hearts to greater possibilities. She's the founder of Namaste Healing Arts, and the Somatic Wilderness Therapy Institute, Katie practices as a somatic, nature-based and adventure psychotherapist, life coach, educator, mentor, quest guide and workshop facilitator. In addition to leading educational and therapeutic wilderness programs for the past 28 years, Katie focused her graduate thesis on body-centered interventions for working with trauma and she's presented internationally in these fields of study for the past 18 years. Currently, Katie trains counselors in advanced inner therapy skills, wilderness and adventure therapy, rites of passage and somatic trauma work. She teaches graduate students at Naropa University in Prescott College and has a private counseling and coaching practice. She leads rites of passage programs and trainings and has published articles on the topics of trauma ceremony and ritual and the use of conscious choice and wilderness work. Katie's an avid learner, creator, and manifester and lover of life. Thank you so much for joining us today here on the show, Katie.

Katie Asmus  3:49

Yes, thank you. Great being here.

Noah Goldstein  3:52

I'll mention that Rachel's done some trainings with you, and you've been working with her as a mentor. She's been really grateful for that. I'm sure she wishes she could be here to say thanks publicly

Katie Asmus  4:07

Ah, thank you. It's wonderful. It's such an honor.

Noah Goldstein  4:10

So, one of the things that I'm really excited about this conversation is, your Earth-based orientation and body-based orientation. From everyone who heard that introduction, there's a really big breadth and depth of territory to explore. And on that note, I'd like to invite our listeners to take a moment to feel themselves and their bodies and where they're at. Maybe you're washing dishes, maybe you're driving a car or on a walk. And just notice, your breath. Notice where you're holding tension, and you can maybe let it go. Loosen that up. I have a feeling that this might be a conversation you want to be listening to with your heart as well as your mind.

So I'm wondering if you can share a little bit about how you came to be doing the work that you're doing? And if there's a particular story that stands out.

Katie Asmus  5:29

Yeah, oh, my goodness. When I was 19 or 20, maybe 20, I was in college. And I realized that I wanted to change my major. And I knew that in the big picture I wanted to be working outside to some degree, after having been a camp counselor and different things. And I realized being in the middle of college that when I went, I thought there were maybe five majors like education, communication, business...and just being there I found out there are so many more majors. And within all the majors, there are so many minors, and at that moment, I decided that I was going to follow what was what was I was most passionate about in every moment and trust that that would lead me to where I needed to be, and that I may not even have heard about what it was that I most wanted to do at that point. I became a general studies major and started taking any course that I actually felt really inspired by because  I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school at some point.

At that time, I thought I wanted to go into experiential education, to teaching outdoors. Four years later, when I went to graduate school, I had been working in outdoor education for about five years had been, leading backpacking trips, leading rock climbing, leading all sorts of adventure activities, and decided that I wanted to deepen the experience with people. So I was working outdoors at Outward Bound and similar type programs and seeing people have profound experiences. And the question in my heart was, ‘How do I help people integrate this on a deeper level for ongoing life-change?’

And so I didn't need to go get a masters in Outdoor or Experiential Education. So I decided to get a Masters in Counseling. And I actually studied somatic psychology with an emphasis and dance therapy at Naropa University. And when I went to graduate school during my program, everything I did, whenever there was a special project that we could do, I did it on wilderness and adventure therapy. And so one project was how do you, you know, create some sort of imaginary group. So I created a group for women in the outdoors. And there was one that was, you know, study something that you have modality that you would like to bring into your work with people.

And so I studied nature based ceremony and ritual and how I would bring that in. And so I think with all of that, I did an internship in wilderness therapy. And I did my whole thesis in wilderness therapy. And at that time, so this is all like kind of all the pieces coming together. I was in graduate school studying a lot of somatic trauma work. At that point, Peter Levine's first book had just come out or one of his first books “Waking the Tiger” it was profound has been one of the most profound influences and all of my work.

So as learning about trauma, I was also doing an internship at the Boulder County Safehouse now called SPAN. And so working with people with intensive trauma I was leading some outdoor programs with that were called courses for people with who are survivors of violence. So again, a lot of people who had experienced sexual assault and or domestic violence, and also working with more generalized populations.

And that particular summer as all these things are kind of happening simultaneously, I had three experiences on our different Outward Bound courses where one of the students had a significant trauma response, one person had a sexual assault flashback in the course and really didn't know where they were. And we're having really the whole trauma happening right there, another person was being bullied by some of the people in the group throughout the course, which was happening with that when the leaders weren't there. And at one point had kind of a panic attack and couldn't breathe. And, and then other situations where people were going up, you know, on a basically rock climbing and coming down with some extreme anxiety. And so at that point, because this was an area that I was so passionate about to being in the outdoors, and, you know, really the foundational philosophy of this kind of work is push people pass their self perceived limitations so that they accomplished something they never thought they could accomplish. And they realized that they could do more than they thought they could do. And that translates to the rest of their lives, which often does happen.

And simultaneously, what I was noticing, that as we, in these situations, were pushing people past their self perceived limitations, sometimes it's too much. And especially when there is past traumatic experiences, it's easier to read trigger trauma responses. And so at that point, I got super passionate about helping outdoor educators, outdoor adventure educators recognize and work with trauma through somatic interventions, which that became my thesis. And as I did that, I started speaking about it at conferences and community organizations. And what I found was that even, you know, the therapists and people who are trained in mental health at that time, this is back in 2000 hadn't heard about most of them had never heard about somatic, you know, the neurophysiology of trauma, this this was not big then, now, it's very, very well known in popular I would say, in the mainstream.

And so it became my mission to help just spread the word about what to normalize what's happening neuro physiologically in the body and the mind with trauma. Because what I believe is that when we can understand what's actually happening in the trauma response, then we can also understand how to heal that, how to help people shift the neurophysiology essentially in there more layers, but that was that's been now a huge part of my work in many different ways. And arenas.

Noah Goldstein  12:07

Okay, then. Wow, yeah.

So there's, there's a lot of questions that come out of that. And I want to start with a personal one that you mentioned, you had a sense of insight from, you know, that young as a young adult, that you would just follow your heart, follow your passion and, and the trust and faith that that would take you where you needed to go. And I'm curious if you have a sense of how you arrived at that, where that came from

Katie Asmus  12:42

That insight? Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's my personality. Okay. I think it's a combination of my own curiosity and commitment to self growth. And there was just something about that realization at that moment that I realized, you know, if I followed the shoulds, I would end up in a place where I was qualified to do something that I thought I should do versus what I was really passionate about. And I think I'm someone that grew up working since I was very young. Like, I had a paper route when I was 10 and babysat full time since I was 12. And so I knew I would be working my whole life. And I also had this sense of, I want to do what I would most love to do if I had, you know, if I even if I never got paid to do it. That's what I want to spend my time doing. So it was aligned with that, that I had this sense of, well, if I do what I most love that I'm going to find ways to be able to do that for my work in the world.

Noah Goldstein  13:44

Wow. That's, I mean, that's really lovely insight, especially from such an early place, and I…

Katie Asmus  13:53

Can I share one more story that, yeah, so with that knowing, and another huge thing that happened was, as I was graduating from Naropa with my dance therapy degree, having integrated wilderness, I was teaching with one of my professors, and I said, I have a dream to start a wilderness therapy master's program. And she said, they're actually starting one right now. It's already been approved. And I said, great. I didn't really actually want to start it. I just wanted to teach in it. Yeah, so I called up Deborah Bowman who was starting the program. And I said, Hi, Emma wilderness therapist, I'd love to get involved in sports program in any way. And at that point, nobody in the world had a master's degree in wilderness therapy. It didn't exist yet. Yeah. And so it was all really people who were combining their experiences, therapeutic experiences in nature and their clinical training.

And so I ended up essentially getting hired to be the assistant director, right, as the program started when I was in the right place at the right time in the universe of where all of my passions came together. And at that moment, I, you know, thought back to that the moment in college where I made that decision. And it felt like this universal affirmation of Yes, I there, I couldn't have predicted this didn't exist, then. And this is the perfect thing for me to be doing here. Now.

Noah Goldstein  15:24

That is just amazing. Quite a story .Yeah, thank you for sharing that part.

So you mentioned that part of what you do is, you know, you teach you believe that if people really understand the what trauma is and how it happens, and then that can make working with it and working through it, and letting go of it more achievable and possible and easier. So I'm curious if, if you're open to sharing a little just a snippet of your story, or perception or ideas around, you know, what trauma is. Yeah, for any of our listeners, who are just as curious as, as I am.

Katie Asmus  16:16

Yes, absolutely. And, and when I say that piece about, you know, when we understand it, we can helps us move through it more that I will say is both for the practitioner, right, for the therapeutic practitioner who's working with clients, as well as for the clients to even have that. Yes,

Noah Goldstein  16:34

yes, yeah.

Katie Asmus  16:41

And so my really what I look at is been very influenced by Peter Levine's work who has observed animal behaviors, and really looked at fight flight freeze responses. And so when I talked to people about understanding trauma, I talk about the different parts of the brain.

So the reptilian brain, the, you know, midbrain, that mammalian brain, the neocortex and sort of look at how when we have a trauma response, it's really triggered by the survival parts of our brain that, you know, when there's a threat or perceived threat, there's a physiological response of adrenaline and cortisol that gets dumped into the bloodstream and blood to the big muscles to fight or flee, and many other pieces that really allow us as humans to run faster than we've ever run in our lives. Or, you know, there's incidences of people picking up a car to save someone.

So this really like the energy that's running through us allows us to, may allow us to survive. And then I talk about how, you know, when we aren't able to move that through, what happens is sometimes often freeze the freeze response, which then more chemicals get dumped into the bloodstream.

And so I love Peter Levine's metaphor of, then it's like having one foot on the gas pedal on one foot on the brake. So there's both the activation happening and that impulse for movement and the freeze at the same time. And if we're, you know, in the animal world, when the freeze wears off, there's there's shaking, there's convulsing, there's running movements that happen and the energy really gets what we call it in somatic psychology sequenced out of the body, physiologically, and because of our big brains are, you know, cortex neocortex area, as humans, we do all these things to stop that response through, you know, tightening our muscles, holding our breath, thinking things like, I don't want to, you know, I'm going to look stupid, I'm in trouble, we get out of these messages, you know, big girls don't cry, whatever it might be over time. And so we developed ways of stopping our natural processes, that we also have access to the sequencing through the fear response.

And then what we're left with is a state in a state of activation. And from that state of activation, we're also perceiving the world as threat because we feel as if there we are being threatened, we start to look for, and then see of the things that might possibly be a threat. And then again, that process gets reinforced.

And so essentially, when we look at, you know, the wisdom of our bodies, the wisdom of animals, bodies, the response and it's simple, yet not easy, right? And especially if this activation has been going on and being continuously perpetuated in the physiologic physiology over time, but my work is really looking at how do we recognize the activation and then how do we support it through mindfulness through being in the present moment, through giving our bodies permission to move to actually sequence that energy out, which, depending on how long we've had, that, you know, that that process happening, we may need to do it several times, we also may need to support the nervous system and, you know, other parts of our physiology as well, but the nervous system to really find another baseline and start to feel comfortable feeling at ease, because it's now wired to really look for protection.

Noah Goldstein  20:44

That was that was very comprehensive, and I really appreciate it. I Rachel and I actually was just talking about how, you know, there's this concept of we, everyone has their comfort zone, and we do everything we possibly can to stay in our comfort zone. Yes. And, and generally, when, you know, I think when people think about getting out of their comfort zone, it's sort of like in a in a negative direction of like this, you know, this is too hard, or this is too scary. Or, and so then, we do what we can to go back to safety. Yes. But, you know, what you were just alluding to in that last statement is that, and what we actually both see a lot in our practice is that, Oh, I can't feel this happy. This feeling of happy is uncomfortable. feeling safe is uncomfortable. feeling loved is uncomfortable. Yeah. And so as much as they're the, you know, so that I just that what you just said, kind of reminded me of that piece of that we Yeah, there's there's that. Yeah,

Katie Asmus  21:49

Yes. And they believe this comes from Peter Levine's where he talks about disorienting to health. So when we're shifting in out of the trauma response into more of the regulated experience. It feels terrifying and unfamiliar. And so there really is a disorientation that happens, that doesn't feel right. Or that feels scary.

Yeah, as we start to move toward a different felt sense internally. Yeah, I also thought to tie this in is, I love the wording that you just use with that, because in adventure, education, education, we talk about the, the, what did you just say, the comfort zone, yeah, the comfort zone, or the safety zone, the learning zone, and the terror zone, right.

And we said, the beginning of many courses will draw kind of a bull's eye looking thing on the ground, the center being the comfort zone, the middle kind of circle being the learning zone, and then the terror zone. And the idea and this is right goes right along with working with trauma is that as we get into the learning zone, or toward the learning zone, we start to get a little bit activated or nervous or anxious.

And then the more we kind of step into that, and practice, you know, reaching or taking a risk, it becomes more familiar. And so our comfort zone actually expands and becomes bigger, and what was not comfortable before we become comfortable. But then there's the danger of if we push ourselves too far. Yeah. And we go into the terror zone, we end up dissociating, becoming overwhelmed and going, I'm never going there again, right. And that's really the metaphor of then retraumatization, where we're actually recapitulate are feeling again, that state of too much the overwhelm that we don't have the capacity to integrate.

Noah Goldstein  23:50

Yes, that's I mean, it's so when I first encountered Peter Levine's work and Somatic Experiencing, and one of the things that struck me was how it it mirrored in a lot of ways the, the Chinese medicine paradigm has, we have a sense, we've, there's these certain, extra vessels, that if the, if a system is overwhelmed, and that can be overwhelmed by an experienced or by an illness, that body can't get the illness out all the way, the body can't get the experience out all the way, for whatever reason, it will kind of siphon that and lock it up, yes. And then. So then we can use acupuncture points are, you know, to different techniques to help release it, assuming the body in the person have enough resilience to allow for that.

Katie Asmus  24:46

The sequencing? Yeah, this particular way of sequencing.

Noah Goldstein  24:49

Yeah, but what I've never seen in the actual Chinese medical literature is a way of making that process conscious to the aware mind. So we could say, oh, there's this something stuck. And we might not know what it is as as a practitioner, but we can, but we can see the symptoms of it, yes. And then we can use these points and techniques to help release it. Yeah, but that maybe it's happening on a subconscious level. So maybe the degree of freedom that a person is receiving from it is, is still smaller than what's fully possible. Uh huh. And one of the things that my mentor as been teaching and working around is how we can help people have a conscious awareness of that process. And so you're using sort of that Eastern energy medicine piece alongside with, you know, whether it's a verbal narrative and exploration of the conscious narrative around the somatics of it. And it's been a fascinating process.

Katie Asmus  26:05

That's amazing. Well, and as you say, that I just right, I feel the parallel with the, you know, psychotherapy. Uh huh. And, and the inner connection, which is, I think, when people understand what's happening, and what you're going for, there can be more of a letting go into that process versus if something starts happening. If we have a feeling in our bodies, we can become afraid of the feeling and then clamped down more. Yeah. And so to have that information consciously, around this is what we're going for. This is the process that's happening and it might feel uncomfortable, or whatever it is, or you could visualize this letting go Yeah, then there's more of us on board conscious and unconscious that can sort of right just support or let go into the healing process.

Noah Goldstein  26:59

That actually sounds like a really good bridge into EMDR. I know you're you're doing EMDR and you actually train to train other people to do it as well.

Katie Asmus  27:09

I do. Yes. I've been assisting in the basic trainings for probably about over 10 years. And then I teach the advanced trainings into a lot of consultation for people who are in Dr. practitioners. So,

Noah Goldstein  27:24

So I'd love to hear what that process looks like. The reason I bet I said that was a bridge was because I know there's a lot of psycho education and prep that happens before an actual end our session. Uh huh. And, and so, but I don't, I don't know a ton about the process as a whole. And I'm imagining that many of our listeners are, some of them are probably saying what, what is EMDR stand for anyway, so there were like, Oh, yeah, I've heard of EMDR, but I don't actually know what it is or how it works. Or so maybe share a little bit about that.

Katie Asmus  27:55

Okay, great. So I'm kind of what is it and how does it work? Or how does

Noah Goldstein  27:59

Yeah, yeah, and I mean, yeah, yes, yeah.

Katie Asmus  28:02

Okay. And feel free to course, stop me or ask question. So EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing was created or discovered, or both really by Francine Shapiro back 30 years ago, at this point, she was a therapist and having her own personal emotional kind of event happening in her life, and was on a run in the woods and had an emotional response and sat down and had a big cry, big release and noticed, happened to notice, that as this was happening, her eyes were kind of going back and forth. And at the end of it, she felt resolved, she felt a big release. And she felt much better about this event that had happened in her life, and got super curious and started doing experiments, mostly on her friends at that point, who were therapist to see, oh, what happens when you think about something disturbing in your life, and consciously, you know, kind of let your eyes go back and forth.

And at that point, you know, she would take her fingers or almost like a pendulum and go back and forth and have people you know, move their eyes and found that there was actually a lot of success with that, and over many years, developed this technique of EMDR. And in the meantime, there's been a ton of research around it. And what they have come to is that it's Yes, the eye movement is very powerful. But they found that you can use bilateral stimulation, which is really stimulating with some one of the senses, every other side of the body, which really brings the two brain hemispheres into communication more and also stimulates the midbrain and kind of uploads the the meanings that we've taken on about things and helps to really open up what hasn't been processed in the past around traumatic experiences.

But so it uses if you could do it with physical kind of, there's a can hold things in your hand that vibrate back and forth, or even do some tapping or put headphones on that has beeps or music to go back and forth. So really what this looks like is then with the bilateral stimulation, there's two main functions I would say that we work with an EMDR or one is the resourcing so bringing in the positive experience, and helping people grow their capacity capacity to stay present with the resource, which is what we were talking about before that really reorienting to health and to tolerance for the good.

And so you we do the bilateral work as part of the preparation as well as part of the process throughout, I'm doing the bilateral with the resource which in fact helps to reinforce that body, mind state, and the body's memory of that, and then the other part of the EMDR is then reprocessing, processing or reprocessing the traumatic memories. And so it's a very, very particular protocol and very particular questions that brings in awareness of the obviously honing in on what is it you want to work on, you know, the incident or the issue, finding an image that brings that up even more looking at what beliefs we've taken on about ourselves, how that lives in our body is what emotions are connected to it.

So we're really pulling all of that up into our consciousness, and then doing a process with the bilateral stimulation that ultimately helps to helps people to then feel what they couldn't feel, have an experience, you know, really move through the processing, move through the emotion, move through the somatic sensations to some degree and the until essentially what happens is, once it's processed, there's relief. And when we feel the relief in our physiologically and otherwise, emotionally, often, and a new natural belief rises all by itself, like oh, that wasn't my fault. Or, oh, I'm actually alive and I'm okay now. And so then we also work with reinforcing that experience and taking it into present day what would the world look or feel like now as you hold that belief, right? And kind of work with that.

Noah Goldstein  32:43

Yeah, wow, that sounds like really powerful stuff.

Katie Asmus  32:49

It is, it's, it's an amazing modality and, you know, and just like any trauma work, it can also be complex, right? Because one thing that also can happen with EMDR is if often we're working with a more recent experience, such as a car accident, or, you know, something that we someone might consider traumatic and we go into processing that and we find the belief "I don't have control," what it can do also is kind of start to tap into past experiences in our lives where we didn't feel like we had control and so sometimes a EMDR Processing can be, you know, an hour long and other times what it does is it actually highlights or illuminates some deeper beliefs that that then point us to some other work that we can also do often use EMDR to work on, but to actually clear older experiences where we really originally took on these beliefs that then got reinforced over time.

Noah Goldstein  33:58

I mean, to me, that almost sounds like a gift of a more recent trauma, if one is capable of framing it in that way. Yeah, I believe that any anytime we're pushed into an experience or a moment, or that awakens us to a reality that there's something deeper here. Yeah, if we're in a time and a place in our lives, where we have the resources and the courage to explore that, then that's where a lot of beautiful growth and yes, expansion happens.

Katie Asmus  34:36

So true. Because I think often when we have an experience of trauma, what happens is we shut off particular parts of ourselves or limit our lives, I'm not going to go do that anymore. And we then we have a false sense of safety. And things can get more and more limited in our lives over time, especially again, if we're if the activation continues. And there's something about the crisis, right? Or a trauma Where are the old ways aren't working anymore, right? And we can't actually we can't just get by, you know, surviving in the ways that we've survived and it can feel terrifying and overwhelming. And for some people, it is too much.

But if we have enough support in our lives, and in our even in our in ourselves, right, it can actually open up for us to reclaim that energy that we've locked away or those parts of ourselves that we've locked away for fear of being hurt again. Yeah, and actually then come into more of a sense of fullness that we never would have done otherwise, because the managing was working good enough.

Noah Goldstein  35:45

Right, right. Yeah, that's Yeah, that's always it's always, there's a lot of curiosity around like, what are those catalysts in our lives that push us or pull us or ignite us into exploration?

Katie Asmus  36:03

Yes, yes.

Noah Goldstein  36:07

Yeah, I like to actually think of even those traumatic events as Heartseeds, you know, that sort of, you know, and the idea that like, when, when we can, it's like this frozen, compacted energy this that's stuck inside of us. Haha, when we, when we do the nourishment and tend to the soil and give it all the resources it needs, then it can sprout and all the sudden release that that energy.

Katie Asmus  36:41


Noah Goldstein  36:42

Thank you.

Katie Asmus  36:43

Yeah, yes, I love that.

Katie Asmus  36:47

I also think is you describe that, that another term that comes to me what is rite of passage which is there that's a huge part of my work. And the term means ritual Right, right. ritual a passage and really comes from the word term comes from European cultural anthropologist that looked at cultures through time, that create ceremony and ritual around life change. But the term it's interesting has really been come to us much more generally, I think, in the English language where I've heard so many people say, illness as a rite of passage trauma as a rite of passage, you know, and it's not it wasn't necessarily a conscious thing that happened, but that it becomes rite of passage, it's the catalyst. Yeah, that actually allows for something else to happen beyond, you know, something more, which also makes me think of, I don't know, if you're familiar with the concept of post traumatic growth

Noah Goldstein  37:54

Vaguely, I'm curious to hear more about what you mean by that.

Katie Asmus  37:57

Yeah. And it's, it's right along these lines. So the idea of post traumatic growth is that, you know, they often use the metaphor as they describe it have a vase being shattered on the ground as the kind of traumatic experience and that so often when we have a traumatic experience, and we're impacted, and our beliefs about the world are impacted in ourselves, and etc, our lives are affected. And sometimes things are taken away, you know, whether that's physical or part of ourselves, that the impulse is to say, How can I get back to how I was, how do I glue this vase together so that I can use it again, how do I, you know, get back.

And the truth is, you can't ever get back to where you were right, you've now had this experience, but that what's possible is that you can make a whole new mosaic out of these pieces of shattered pottery. And that what's possible is you could actually come to a place in life with what much more understanding wisdom, compassion, you know, this is the place where many people create organizations or movements or give back or, you know, because they understand what it's like to be in that place.

And not everybody goes, you know, gets to the point of post traumatic growth, we need enough support, again, somewhere in either in ourselves or outside of ourselves, or a combination to be able to have enough safety support healing to get to that place. And it's really then it's when people look back and say, you know, I wouldn't necessarily say, I'm glad this happened at all right, but I wouldn't be who I am today, and I wouldn't know what I know. And it's actually I'm a, I'm a better person for it, or, you know, I have these gifts to give for that. And that sort of like, rite of passage, it has been, you know, was a rite of passage.

Noah Goldstein  39:59

Yeah, I, I think about So, Rachael did her master's thesis on birth and pregnancy and becoming a mother as a rite of passage, you know, yes. Appropriately as she was going through it herself. Yes. And so that's something that's sort of alive for her and for us. And I think I mean, looking at where things are culturally in society nowadays. I think that the lack of formal rites of passages and both even rituals and the the agency that can often come from that are big, sort of source of some of the brokenness and

Katie Asmus  40:49

oh, yeah, I met a trauma. Yeah,

Noah Goldstein  40:51

Yeah. And so I'm curious. I mean, I know, we're sort of needing to start to wrap up, which, you know, is what it is, and I'm curious, you do a lot of work with rites of passage. And so I'm just curious what other like wisdom or insights or ideas you might want to share about that, as we sort of step into the closing of this moment?

Katie Asmus  41:15

Yeah. Wow, this is such a huge topic, right?

Noah Goldstein  41:19


Katie Asmus  41:20

Um, so, you know, I think that, as you mentioned, birth, right. I personally, am not a mother. And so many of the people in my life life are parents, right. And I and clients, right. And so what I see and what I know about that is that it fundamentally changes your life forever and ever, in so many ways, right? And hard ways, and beautiful ways in ways that you can never, you would never imagine, even seeing everybody else going through, this is what I hear. And, and what I have come to understand it from this position, right. And that how many people and I work a lot with women. And so, you know, a lot of women that have given birth that say, Oh, my gosh, like, I had no idea that this all the things that this entails, and all the ways all the impact to my body, and all the impact to my, you know, sleep and by identity. And there's something about not having the conscious community support.

Yeah, that is huge. And, obviously, you know, the US is a very big place, and there are many different cultural practices here. So, it's hard to, you know, make generalizations, right. But I would say, generally speaking, you know, we don't have a lot of supported communities that normalize that give warning, you know, that are around to support afterwards that acknowledge the challenge, there's the woods highlighted is the happiness, right? It's like, you're so happy this is and then there's the heart and people are left feeling alone going, like, what is my, the only one that feels this way. And so I think formalized writer passages, doing ceremonies, doing rituals, doing honoring is really an attempt to acknowledge, you know, and acknowledge that anytime really, a passage happens or a change happens, there is a loss, you know, even if it's a if, I mean, sometimes that is the passage that the losses the passage, right, sometimes it's a stepping into something new, such as Parenthood, right. But with that there is a big loss. And so the right the ritual, the ceremony is all acknowledging all of it, it's acknowledging the loss and it's acknowledging what's next. Yeah, what you're stepping into, and what's possible, and ideally, having some sort of community acknowledgement, right, whether that's one person or you know, a group of people. So that again, just like we were talking about with trauma, to kind of give our conscious and unconscious mind some permission to really move through and to even be in the discomfort and be in the unknown and say, like, yeah, this is actually all a part of what happens with change. And I think we've really, you know, in our fast paced like iPhone, blah, blah, but culture, get it now get it yesterday, right. We it's it we don't really understand and have tolerance and acceptance for how long actual change growth can take. Yeah, often takes, especially when they're big life transitions. And so there's something up for me that I am really passionate about, which is utilizing those, the conscious ceremony to really acknowledge what transition means and the complexity of that to support people and just even holding it, you know, holding it with some patience and compassion and perspective as they move through whatever that might be in their lives.

Noah Goldstein  45:09

Because there's so much potential there.

Katie Asmus  45:11


Noah Goldstein  45:13

Yeah. I mean, blessing-ways are thing that in Rachel's community are happening quite a bit around motherhood, where is a more conscious and soulful and heartful and for I guess, yes, rite of passage ritual around that transition into parenting and Parenthood. And so I sort of modeled that with some of my male friends as it was stepping into father. Yeah, and even with that, I have a distinct memory of like collapsing on the kitchen floor in tears, maybe six months after Hazel was born. Just just realizing that like, I never mourned the loss of my life before Parenthood, the freedom the just all of that, and just feeling so isolated. And, you know, and it was, it was a good catharsis, you know, I was grateful, you know, wisdom. But yeah, like, that morning piece of what's lost. I think, also, you know, just how that all comes in, to play. And, and I think my impression and perspective is that actually, that's something that we, that women are really claiming and stepping into, at least in maybe the boulder community, you know, and that I, I'm trying to kind of help men step into that space to raise more and more so

Katie Asmus  46:41

Yeah, and as you share that, what I one thing that strikes me is just the permission, right? And when there's something acknowledged, even if in the ceremony, right, you don't get it right. Don't totally feel it all. Because there's no way you can there's something about having a culture of the acknowledgement that then when it shows up, it's not completely out of nowhere. You know, it's like, oh, this is this is part of it, too, right. Which can be at least again, give a space just accept or let that move through to thank you for sharing that piece. I feel touched about your just that experience.

Noah Goldstein  47:22

Yeah, absolutely. I you know, I think it's important. Yeah. So I want to thank you so much for your time for your for your voice for your your heart, you know, everything that you've been sharing here.

Is there any last little snippets of anything that you want to share?

Katie Asmus  47:39

Um, I think that I think that feels complete in this moment. I mean, as you can tell, I can tell, right, yeah, very, for a long time. But that just, yeah, I love how it kind of came full circle. And it's been lovely to speak with you here. So thank you.

Noah Goldstein  47:56

And just I'll put it all in the show notes. But how can people get in touch with you if they're,

Katie Asmus  48:01

Oh, yes. Great. Well, currently, my website is And I am in the process right now of officially changing over my business to the somatic wilderness therapy Institute. And so that website is wilderness therapy Institute. com. And both of those at this point, our live and will have information on how to contact me further, or trainings or different things that I'm offering in the community. Wonderful.

Noah Goldstein  48:35

Thank you so much, Katie, for this interview. And for all the work that you're doing all the teaching that you're doing all the mentorship that you're doing, and I look forward to talking more in the future.

Katie Asmus  48:46

Yes, likewise. Thank you so much, sir.

Noah Goldstein  48:50

Thank you all so much for listening. If you enjoyed this and know someone else who would please share it. And if you feel like going ahead and writing it on iTunes, that helps other people find the podcast to if you have any questions, and you want to connect with me. I'm at NOAA at hearts enough. com. Thank you so much. And we'll see you again next time