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140. Trusting in Love: Drugs, Spiritual Healers, and Decolonizing Psychedelic Therapy with Danielle Herrera

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole.

On today's episode, we have psychedelic psychotherapist, Danielle Herrera. Join us for a conversation about redirecting the arrow. Together we talk about the healing power of community. Emptying the channel, and a world beyond the DSM. Hello, hello, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy.

I am so happy to have you in the space, dear listener, and to be back with you after taking a week off. Happy New Year 2024. I have so many exciting episodes that I am excited to share with you this year and to grow with you and to keep expanding in this space. So, thank you for joining me on this journey and for building community in this space with me.

Did anyone catch the new intro? Did anyone catch that? It's a little different, right? It's a little different. I think that the podcast is taking direction in a certain area as I continue to explore and research and build my areas of expertise in sex and relationships. And so I wanted to change the intro to have more of that direction.

And in terms of my intention with this podcast, right? I do want to say that. Relationships are so expansive, right? We are not just talking about romantic or sexual relationships and however you choose to define those or don't have those boxes. All of my relationship anarchists out there, I see you, I am you, we are here.

Um, but you know, there's just so much more than that type of relationship. So when I say sex, relationships, and liberation, I'm talking about our relationships to our ecology. I'm talking about our relationship to drugs. I'm talking about our relationship to the divine and spirituality, right? All of these pieces are part of the relationships that shape our reality, and so today's conversation with Danielle is a powerful one to start off 2024 with.

It brings me such joy to be researching psychology and pleasure, and the more I dive into this, I'm continually hit with the reality of How relationships create our experience of this world, create our personality, our tendencies. And so today's conversation talks about that relational perspective to our lives and a lot about the field of psychology in general.

So I hope you enjoyed that. exploration. One of the beautiful things about relationships is the way that they change us, right? You hold that story of that person in your head, right? You know me as the host of modern anarchy, and I exist in a meta relationship up in your head somewhere, right? Your family exists up there.

Your mentors, your teachers, your healers. All of those people exist up in our head to create the reality. And there's so much beauty in telling our stories with other people and co creating them together, right? Again, narrative therapy. We are always writing our narrative. through connection with other people and through our experiences.

And, you know, I've talked on this podcast about how relationships are mirrors, right? The things that make you upset are often the things that we don't like about ourselves or struggle to accept within ourselves. And so we can learn so much about. Ourselves by having that curiosity when we move through the world and notice how we're affected by other people But relationships aren't only mirrors, right?

They're also windows where we're creating dreams and worlds together or maybe we want to call them a canvas, right? We're writing that narrative that story in our connection in our relationship. And I don't think there's anything more beautiful than that. There's nothing more psychedelic than that, right?

Changing the reality of our world. Bring a new relationship into your world and see how that shifts everything, right? I think we've all experienced that phenomenon of how a new person into your world, as you start to hold their stories and their nuances, right? It shapes you and it changes you. And how beautiful, right?

And so today as you're listening to this podcast, you're going to hear a lot of Danielle's story and why she is so passionate about harm reduction in her work. And dear listener, maybe you have a similar story to Danielle's. Maybe you know someone who struggled with some of the same things. And so it makes sense that as you're listening to this episode, it might bring up a lot about your own family dynamics, about your own experiences with these topics.

And so As per always, you know, I talk a lot about our somatic experience, continue to tune in with yourself, right? Notice as you're hearing these stories, do you start to feel a tightness in the chest? Do you start to feel some movement in the belly? And can you just bring some curiosity to the way that hearing other people's stories is?

Moves your body. What do you notice? What do you need? What do you wanna give to yourself or ask for support from others? And that is a practice that I'm continuing to learn and get better at. And I know we can all continue to expand in this space together. Dear listener, it is 2024. Let's take a deep breath into this new year.

I hope this year can be one of power. Pleasure. and radical intimacy in ways you could have never imagined possible. And I am excited to go on this journey with you. I'm sending you all of my love. And with that, let's tune into today's episode. So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Danielle: Yeah, I'll, I'll introduce myself the way that I train a lot of people to introduce themselves this way. Um, really specifically in the, um, in the topic of like decolonizing therapy. So when I do this training, it's called decolonizing psychedelic therapy specifically. But it can be applied to any type of psychotherapy and we'll start off with decolonize introductions.

The reason why we do this preparing is I wouldn't always prepared is just that typically when we do introduce. Ourselves, we say something like, hi, my name is Danielle. I, um, I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I'm a psychotherapist. I went to UCLA and then I went to University of South Dakota or to University of San Francisco and then I, um, I affiliated with this organization.

I affiliated with that organization and. These are the letters after my last name and it's just so dry and it's so, um, disconnected from our relationships and reconnected to our institutions and to our into our value, um, based off of that. And I just think there's another way. I think that if we're trying to re, animate the world, then we need to go back into our relationship.

So. All to say, I'm Danielle. I am a daughter. I am a, um, a sister. I am an auntie. Being an auntie is probably my favorite role right now. I have a nephew who's five years old and my brother's trying for another. So that's very exciting. I have, uh, two siblings, an older

brother and a younger brother. And my, I'm the daughter of, uh, Lisa, who is of Filipino and Chiricahua Apache lineage.

And I'm the daughter of John Herrera, who is the, um, the child of a Pascua Yaqui lineage. So I mean, lots of other things. There's, I care a lot about lineage. I care a lot about, about like generations and, and, um, shifting. Sort of paradigms within family systems. Other things about me are just like I'll usually name like like roles to or like different personality structures that I identify with.

I'm a 7 on the Enneagram. I'm a Gemini, but I really identify with my Scorpio stellium or I identify with my 9th house stellium or my Cancer Venus. Actually, that's a big one. And what are some other things? I'm a poet. I'm an initiated in IIT Universalist Sufi, um, which really informs how I do a lot in my life.

Um, I'm a partner and a lover, a capital L lover. And the way that loving shows up mostly day to day for me is as a psychotherapist. So that's where the connection happens. And. So I get to say this thing that I love, which is I love people for a living and how that's taken form. The most is as is within harm reduction and psychedelic psychotherapy.

So that's me.

Nicole: Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of that. You definitely inspired me when I had talked to you earlier in the year and heard that frame when, um, applying to internship, we have to answer these like 500 word essays. And one of them is please tell me about yourself. So I definitely try to use that same frame to like, put me in relationship.

We'll see if that gets me a spot somewhere, freak some people out. You know what I mean? We've got dinosaurs in the field, but thank you for sharing all of that. And I'm so excited to hold space for your story today. If you want to take the listeners, you know, all the way back, wherever that starts for you and the journey coming into the work that you're doing and the love that you're sharing with the world.

Danielle: Wow. Okay. Great. Yeah, it's fun. It's a fun question. Cause I've let her told the story many times and I have nothing prepared. So it's, we're just going to let consciousness take. Privacy here.

Nicole: Yeah. And I'm sure it changes, right? Like, in our lives, the more we, like, grow and get perspective and look back on those stories, like, you'll say it today, and then in 10 years be like, oh, but this, you know.

Danielle: Well, that's what's so exciting about it is that, you know, I was recently thinking, like, I've been seeing my therapist for, like, Six or seven years now. And I'm like, Ooh, I'm wondering if it's time to like, see another therapist and like, switch that out. And the question is always like, how do I start my story over again?

Like, she's gathered so much information about me. And she even said, like, if you needed to do that, like, one of the cool things is that when you like, start up again and tell your story, you tell it differently. I'm curious. I haven't like told my story in a while. Let's see what shows up. Yes. Which take you back to the beginning.

So I was born in Southern California, grew up in a, in a small town on Tongva land called San Pedro, California. And it's basically the port of Los Angeles. If you take the 1 freeway all the way down. Then you get to this small fisherman's town and it's homey and beautiful and it struggles. It's neighbors with a lot of like South LA kind of, you know, like it's like Long Beach, Compton, Wilmington, Inglewood.

I was born to a single mother. My mother's name is Lisa and she, I guess, I guess actually what I'll say is like the birth itself is actually like pretty significant. So when I was born, I really have done a lot of work around like the original sort of like birth trauma that's happened to me, which was that.

I was born premature due to physical abuse on my mother by my father and that, like, was pretty felt. And the story was given to me very young. My mother, you know, and she was like, in recovery, ex alcoholic. And then my biological father, um, who didn't raise me, but I had, like, seen a couple of times throughout my childhood was an active heroin user.

And I had an older brother. So when I was born, it was really just me and my mother and my older brother. And it was like that for like, 2, 3 years before my mother met my stepfather, who was like, in my life consistently after that. So I got to have that experience, but I was also like, pretty distant because.

I mean, active trauma on my mom's side was ultimately needing she needed me to not have that connection to my to my stepfather. So, but all things considered, things are really beautiful. My mother was like, definitely primary caregiver for me. We were pretty poor. She, she, like, worked various jobs, um, until eventually kind of being like a secretary at my elementary school, which was kind of sweet.

Um, she's beautiful. She's always been absolutely, like, gorgeous. And then, you know, I, I, with my biological father, there was a lot of like, custody battle stuff. He never paid a single dollar in, in childcare in, in, um. Uh, yeah. Yeah. Didn't like an in, what is it called? Like child support? It's called alimony support.

Yeah. Alamo Child Support and a, yeah. He never paid anything. My parents never even got married. But I, I, I'm naming that now because I just had to do my student loans. Mm-Hmm. like, oh my God, I owe a thousand dollars a month on my student loans. And it's like, where's my father's child support

So my mother raised me mostly, she ends up like working at my elementary school. Things are pretty good. All things considered, even though we're like struggling like family for the first like five years of my life. I'm very lucky in the sense that my mother's always been like really warm. She's very much so like has like a lot of unprocessed trauma.

So she would raise me in this. Very fearful environment, specifically around, like, a projection of childhood sexual abuse because of her own. So it's really complex. Like, my therapist always considers, like, she's like, okay, well, you've got, like, a really high a score, right? The, like, adverse childhood experiences and she's like, but the 1 that kind of like.

Is like the strongest for you is actually this like really complicated overlay of sexual trauma because of the like over sexualization fear that happened because my mother was it happened to her like really really like high like kind of obsessed because she was like really obsessed with like protecting me and my older brother and less actually less so protecting but rather assuming that Transcribed We were being sexually abused and then convincing, like, telling us that we were lying if it didn't happen.

So there would be this, like, really complicated place where, like, you know, my, my older brother and I even talk about it to this day where we would like, you know, this is like, just generational trauma stuff that it's like, I think it's so important to process where it's like, even to this day, my brother and I will be like, we used to both pray that it would happen to us because she would.

Every single day ask, like, who's, who's doing it? Is your uncle? Is it your cousins? Like, is somebody doing it to you? And we're just like, no, nothing was happening. It was just like, she would like, even very inappropriately tell us of all the ways that, like, somebody could do this to you. But anyways. It was very complicated, but we, like, loved her so much and, like, could, like, even at a young age could tell that it was just, like, a projective, like, unprocessed trauma thing, but still such a loving person and things were pretty great, especially then my stepdad came into the picture and he started taking care of us, which was really nice.

And had, like, a positive elementary school experience. And then when things really started shifting was when, um, this was, like, around middle school. So it was like, I think I was like, 10 or 11. I noticed a profound shift in my mother's connection to me before that age. We were like. Close probably, like, too close, if anything, like, inappropriately close because of my mom's stuff.

And but then all of a sudden, she, like, disappeared, you know, emotionally, like, she was just extremely distant to me and we started having a bunch of financial problems and I noticed. I noticed she was getting, like, profoundly paranoid in this. So when I was around, like, 11, she started getting really, like, it was, uh, like, a severe paranoia.

Those sort of, like, early childhood sexual fears became, like, active, almost like conspiracy theories of who was doing it and they were, like, really next level. So I was trying to make sense of, like, what was happening for her. Which prompted me to like, study psychology at like 11 years old. Because I was like, oh, my mom's mentally ill.

That was like what made sense to me. Um, and so like, then I think it was like 11, 12 when I like first read like a psych 101 textbook to try to make sense of like, oh, my mom must have Schizophrenia, because it would be the symptoms were really like, you know, we couldn't talk in the car because the radio was listening or like when we were in the house, you would put tape over any of the like old nail holes because she thought that like people were spying on her, especially like pedophiles, you know, um, she started like accusing, she would like take the phone numbers from my dad's, um, my stepdad's like phone records and then scramble the numbers and then show us like, like sit us down.

I'm going to be like, I'm not crazy. This is proof that your dad is cheating on me or that he's doing these things. Um, and it was like every single day, nonstop, extreme paranoia. And I never thought it would be drugs. I never thought like, because she was actually extremely anti drug because she was an ex alcoholic.

And because my biological father was a heroin user. Very much so like I would never, you know, um, so I just thought organically it's, it's, it was just paranoid schizophrenia live that way for many years. And the more intense part of those many years is that we went through, um, severe housing instability and homelessness.

From the age of 12 years old until I was an adult 19 and that it's sort of the housing market crash that occurred in 2008. my family lost their home. We, like, they were, we were like, completely pushed out. And then after that, we lived in motels and hotels and. Various like housing facilities, sometimes we would rent a place, but then we would get evicted and then we would get locked out of our home.

And then we would lose all our stuff. And then my parents would steal you haul trucks and then keep all our stuff in there. And then we use that. And then they would get storage units. And then we couldn't afford that. So we, so I have nothing from my childhood. Wow. I have, like, nothing, no picture, you know, um, and the instability was, was severe.

Like, it was, it was. It was impossible. I was staying when I was housed. I was in motel rooms with my it was a single motel room with two beds. My mother and my mother and stepfather would sleep in one bed and then my brothers and I would sleep in another bed. So we got very close and I've learned how to be extremely relational.

Yeah. And ultimately. What it turned out to be was that, okay, fast forwarding, there's a lot of that kind of same shaping lots of chaos. And when I was about 18 years old, and I had, like, social workers coming in and out of my life, my whole life. But, um, at some point I was like, this is like, they're not doing anything.

Yeah. And like, this isn't why am I not getting help here? And so when I was about 17. I was like an A plus student, 4. 6 GPA, like hustling classic case of like, you know, um, and I was doing it because I was like, I need to change something, you know, like somebody has to do something really different here. So I knew I had to go to like college and try to like change the wheel of the family system.

I had a little brother who was like very severely neglected. It was mostly taking care of him and. When I was 17, I was like, I'm about to leave for school and I need to like, make sure that they're taken care of. So I got Child Protective Services involved in my own family. At this point, around that time, my mother was sleeping for spans of like four days to a week and just would just be under the covers the entire time.

Or she would be up and somewhere else. Extremely suicidal. She attempted multiple times, very violently, and was just like, like, Very borderline qualities, what we would kind of call it really just extremely unprocessed, unprocessed trauma. And then at 17, having this social worker who was finally like, I just need to catch your parents off guard and test them for drugs, drugs.

And found out that they were I'll quote my social worker here, which was when she tested my mother. She's my social worker said this is the highest amount of methamphetamine I've ever seen in a human body like that. So, that was, and it was brutal for me, right? Like, the moment I found out, I fell to my knees physically and again was about to leave for college and I was like, well, now, what what did I just do?

Because now the system knows that my mom, my parents are on drugs and now, and I have a little brother who's under their care. I got accepted to Berkeley and UCLA. I was trying to decide where I was going to go and so social worker took me to my parents house. Um, they're like renting from like an old military friend of my stepdads.

And it was like a terrible experience because they, they like used me to get my parents home. The cops did, you know, they were like, we need to like get your parents to be here. So, and I was like, again, like a teenager, I don't really know what was happening. They took me to my little brother's elementary school to pick him up and I had to just like console him and be like, okay, I don't really know what's going on, but we got to take you.

And it was to arrest my parents. Um, and remove custody of my little brother and brutal, but also, I think 1, 1 point that I missed was that, like, when I had called when I had 1st gotten the social worker, it was like, really helpful because they mandated that my entire family go to therapy. And so I started going to therapy when I was like.

14, 15 years old and my little brother did too. So that was like huge. And it was paid by the state because it was required. And then my parents, my mom started going a little bit too, but that was like a way to get resources. And then it was like, when they found out about the truth, they were like, Oh, we actually can't have this child in your care at all.

So they remove custody. They, uh, my little brother enters the foster care system. I just age out, which was like, the timing was like impeccably terrible because. If it just would have happened before wouldn't be paying a 1000 dollars in student loans every month. You know, also, just a note here is I wouldn't be paying 1000 dollars in student loans every month.

If I wasn't a 1st generation student who didn't know that I could just put down my homeless. heroin using biological father on my applications and instead use the gross income of my stepdad who never adopted me. So it's like, basically I'm just this like outlier situation, but this is a side note. Um, but anyways, so that happened, that was like probably like the big, the big burst for us.

Um, and then I processed the, like, what does this all mean? went to college. I chose U. C. L. A. Because I now that my brother was in the foster care system, I would now want to be able to be close to him. So every weekend down, uh, and came to see him. Eventually they moved him to tear underneath my uncle and my parents went to rehab.

My mother went into inpatient. And then my father, my stepdad went into outpatient and just to fast forward here, basically the journey through college for me and through this time of my family's life was just like actively refusing to separate from them, like actively refusing to reject them. Despite how often people told me your parents are toxic there, you know, you don't need them in your life.

Just give them up, you know, just, just completely abandoned them. And I was like, give me a better reason than the fact that they're using drugs. My mother is kind to me. She's warm to me. She loves me. My stepfather is, is taking care of me since I was a child. I'm this little brown kid. My older brother's this little brown kid.

What he doesn't, he doesn't like give me a better reason. Right. Like there's, they're clearly doing this for like it's for a reason and I couldn't comprehend it. Every single person in my family told me just leave her. Like let her go. Let her die in the gutter. That's what she wants to do. And I just can't do that.

So I called her in rehab. I like, I used some of my scholarship money when I like went to UCLA. I like, I made like 19, 000 from writing essays. I was really good at that. She didn't have the money for her rehab. So I paid it, you know, and it's like, okay, like I can't, and maybe it's to a fault, but like my connection to lineage is just so loud.

I'm like, this is my blood. Like how, and it's something that's interesting in like modern therapy because there is so much of this, like, just, just leave your people, you know? Um, so I just trusted, I trusted love very early on, very, very early on. And she's, you know, just to, yeah. And fast forwarding here is that like.

She's great. She did great. She held my hand when she first came back from rehab and she like tightly and she said, um, she's like, Danielle, I need you to know that you did this, you know. You saved my life like you saved my life. And then she also said, like, you know, she processed so much to do so much therapy.

And she was like, like, when she started talking to me openly about what it was like, when she was using drugs for so long, she told me, like, I was having. A spiritual experience, like when I first started using and it was so gorgeous. It was so beautiful. Like, I, I felt God speaking to me directly full, ecstatic experience emergence.

Right. And she was like, I was like, but I. I wanted to talk to somebody about it so bad, but I knew that if I told them that I was like, having a spiritual experience and drugs, the math was involved that they, they wouldn't understand. They would judge me. They would say, well, kind of mother, you know, and so she's like, if I just had 1 person.

Who held space, like, who, who could handle the fact that those things were existing at once. This wouldn't have happened. And that was it for me. I was like, okay, great. I'd like the, I, I need to be that 1 person. Yeah. You know, so went through college. Was actively in like a trauma response to all of that life was just like, it's like a really fuzzy period for me because how much PTSD was like, just setting in.

I got diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder. Of course, in that time, really, I started therapy there because I was having panic attacks. Like, I wouldn't UCLA was not a good container for me. I lost my housing in school because I couldn't afford it. Um, so I, yeah. Homeless student to and I was just doing this.

I was like sleeping in the car, but I was like very like Wise about how I got taken care of. I was like, learned, you know, so I was like, okay, then I'll just become the director of this mental health organization that helps people prevent suicide. And then they're like, here's an office with a key that you can use.

So I slept in there wise. Yeah. Right. Right. Um, so it's like all these ways of just like, you know, I just, I, it's. It is really cool to retell the story because I'm like, I didn't even consider just like, how much and nobody knew this was happening. It was just a bunch of rituals, you know, I started counseling very early.

So like, our first job was like, as a like, peer counselor, mostly for folks who are like, working with gender and sexuality issues and like, students who are like, low income. And then from that point on, it was just various counseling roles. And I knew I needed to become a therapist. I thought maybe I would become like a child therapist because I was like, how can I impact basically be what my mother needed when she was a child, you know, yeah, well, went straight to grad school, you know, my memory of like, the only stable people I'd ever met in my childhood were all social workers and therapists.

You know, they had a huge impact on me. They, when I met one, I was like, wait, it can be like this. They're so like gentle and so like attuned. And so went to grad school and it was in grad school that I had one of my first psychedelic experiences. And I had had like minor psychedelic experiences when I was in high school, but nothing too significant.

It was when I did an underground MDMA therapy session, um, at the beginning of grad school and there. I felt like my trauma opened up into like a 360 perspective and I finally forgave my biological father and I like just fully felt into like, yeah, just like my own, like into love. And then I was like, I need to do this.

I have to specifically. Work with drug users and I have to specifically work with drugs full spectrum Those who don't know what they're doing completely have a have a chaotic relationship and those who are doing this for like Expansiveness healing spiritual emergence, but that would be the realm that I work.

So, that's how we got here basically, after that went to like, was working at harm reduction therapy center. It felt like home, you know, like, working on the street with like, active drug users and homeless folks and and stably house people. And it was like, being back home, like, it was like, just. It was just easy for me.

Natural. I never learned how to do it and then started doing like psychedelic therapy, training for ketamine therapy, and I'm now in private practice doing both of those things and it's.

It's been really cool, so yeah, we're asking those a long story,

Nicole: of course, thank you for sharing it with me and all the listeners and for trusting that, yeah, the space to share that.

So thank you. I think first I just want to like pause and hold space for like, you know, the journey that you've gone through and telling the story now, like how does it feel to look back on that part, that whole history?

Danielle: Yeah. Good question. I mean, I'm like, Oh, it makes me so teary. Cause I'm like, I'm like, yeah, it's nice to get to a point where I'm like, I'm so proud of her, you know, like, God, how much she went through

Nicole: your mom?

Danielle: I'm actually like referring to me.

Nicole: Yeah. That's what I was hoping you were referring to you. Yeah. But I was like, okay.

Danielle: I mean, interesting to retell the story because I'm like, for so long, it was just about my mom. I was like obsessively focused on like, Oh my God, I got to take care of this woman. You know, but now it's like gone to the, it's been 15 years of therapy for me.

And like, I'm finally in this place where I'm like. Wow, the intelligence of that young person, you know, to just like shape, yeah, just shape life towards like, no, like this, there was just this part of me that just like demand something different, you know, like, it's just wild. Yeah. And I love my life. That's what it's.

I'm so in love with my life, you know,

it's a long journey to get there and such a testament to your strength, right?

Yeah. Good journey.

Nicole: Yeah. And now you have such a important perspective that a lot of people don't have that we need in the world.

Danielle: Yeah. I named that a lot because I'm like, I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's interesting to me because I'm like, for me, it's like.

Well, yeah, duh, you know, I realize I don't realize until like, for example, like you reach out to me, you're like, Oh, like, can you join, like, jump on the podcast? Let's talk about it. And I like, I get these like reminders that it's something unique, these reminders that it's Uh, but like you said, like an important or a different perspective all the time.

And then I'm like, it's like sobering for me where I'm like, Oh yeah. I've like gathered something from this journey that, you know, so I'm, yeah, I'm like interested, like, in like, how, what do I do with it now? You know, it's informed so much of like how I practice and like so much of my philosophy. I'm like, I'm really grateful for that.


Nicole: Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. , what do you think like the biggest pieces are that you'd wanna share in this space? In terms of like, compared to the more quote unquote normative model of psychology or what I'm being taught in school? What I see with my colleagues? Like what are the big discrepancies that you see

Danielle: Totally, that's a good, good way of putting it.

Big discrepancies that I see in the way that I work. I'm like, I, you know, every single time I see a, a client or I start with a new client, I tell them like, okay, so. The way that I work is very nontraditional and I'm just like dropping them into like, do you know what you're getting yourself into? And there's like, there's ways in which, okay.

So those big discrepancies is like, and I'll name it. I'm like, I. I actively utilize a decolonial framework within psychotherapy, and I'll, you know, through time sort of teach them what that means, but like a big way, a big thing that that means is like, you know, constantly, constantly re calibrating into the impact of colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy.

And then all the other isms that are attached to that, that like are that come from that. So it's like the image that I always give them is like, you're going to come sit across from me and you're going to be pointing this arrow towards yourself to your own heart. And you're going to be saying like, this is my fucking fault.

Sorry. No cuss on this space. It is welcomed. Yeah. They're going to be like, this is like, I'm, I'm, I'm the problem. Like I'm failing to adjust or something wrong with. With me, and my job is to like, help you zoom out so that you can see that like, wait, wait, there's nothing wrong with you. Like this, this is a, the system is a hundred percent calculated and oppressive.

It's not broken. Right. Taking that arrow towards your own heart, flipping it up. At colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and then feeling into your own heart and expanding, breathing it open. Right? So like, there's where I'm like, it's decolonial. That's like one big framework. And then the other, the heart center, that's Sufism.

That's like all my spiritual teachings of like, this heart space is so taken for granted. And the way that we love, loving as an act, you know, loving as like what we do, right? Like, what humans are meant for and then being in relationship to that never really thought about it that way, but that's pretty much what I'm doing.

Nicole: Huge, huge. It is. It is because I say, I love my clients. You know what? Some supervisor would say to me, we need to work on your counter transference and transference going on. What's going on in this? session. So I just threw my pen down. I'm like, you know, like, dare I say I have love for the person sitting across from me.

I can't say that, you know, and you know, Rogers would always say like the unconditional positive regard of the humanist tradition. You can do unconditional positive regard. It's like, dare we call that love?

Danielle: Dare we call that love. That's incredible. I love that. Yeah. I mean, yeah, that's a huge, it's, that's another one of those big, um, Pieces for me is that like, I'm so radically unafraid of telling my clients that I love them.

Um, and I let them say it first. They always say it. They always say it. I'm inviting it into the room. I'm like. I want them to not fear their capacity to love. I want them to, to feel as if their love could save the world. And so I'm inviting that space and connection. And if they can say it to me, and if we can, like, acknowledge our, like, what we've accessed relationally, that intimacy, they're just going to transfer that to all of their people.

They will. That's why therapy works. Right? So, And, and, and, like, just think about that, right? It's like, so you have that decolonial lens, then you have that, like, loving, hyper loving lens, and it's like. And if therapy really is kind of this, like, practice practice ground for, like, what you then transfer on to other other relationships, then you have people out in the world who are helping other people not blame themselves, be aware of the systems that are impacting them and be more loving to everybody in their lives.

Okay, let's do that.

Nicole: Totally. Totally. Yeah. I don't know if I could do that sort of frame while I'm going through school. I know I could at sauna healing collective. Right. But when I go to internship and I'm in a hospital setting, like, I don't think I can say that sort of stuff. Right. So it's like, part of the conditioning of the field is so like professionalism, you know, that tabula rasa Freud of like, you're supposed to be the blank slate, you know, it's just funny because one of my friends was talking about like clowns and why they're so scary.

And they're like, apparently there's some sort of research on the face and the, you know, the actual makeup making it like a blank, uh, face. So it's so scary. And that's, what's terrifying about it. I'm like, yeah, that's exactly what. Psychology has done for years to clients of trying to be so blank, you know,

Danielle: Oh, wow.

That's a great comparison.

Nicole: I know. I was like, yeah, that kind of hits me a little hard to think about. But like I, what you're saying is a hundred percent from the practice that I, you know, the relational cultural theory, a way of looking at it, that You know, the therapeutic relationship becomes a model for all the other relationships, right?

What's happening in the room often happens or what's happening outside of the room is happening in the room, right? And that's why it's also important to acknowledge the potential power structures that are existing in the room as well, right? And then that becomes that model outside. So being able to have that safe space where you could explore what intimacy looks like with the boundaries of a therapeutic relationship is life changing for many people.

Danielle: It's so interesting to it feels paradoxical to me that there is this more traditional shaping of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis that that does use that blank slate, like, complete non disclosure like you should not show the therapist should be completely free of. Any personality really like you can't show you don't let them find out that you're a person and then you're teaching them intimacy and then they're going to go out and not know how to connect because you're not giving them anything and it's also just silly because like, there's no way you're not disclosing person you're coming into the, you're carrying all over you, right?

And so that's another way where it's like really white too. Yes. Like, maybe that works. In whiteness, but like I walk into the room. I'm like, so racially ambiguous. I'm covered in tattoos, like their prayers to their, their, and their spiritual. They're like, they're very self disclosure and I chose that. I did that on purpose.

Right. Um, and also just my energy, my like person, like how I am the way that I respond. Every single thing that I say is a story.

Nicole: So positionality, you can't get out of that, right? But if you're, if you fit into the norm, then you quote unquote potentially can, right? So hence the whiteness of this whole structure, right?

It's terrifying. I remember being in my class and talking about one of my clients had been talking about their sexual assault journey and healing and they started to cry in session and I was moved and cried with them in the moment. And I shared that in my classroom and like, A couple of students were like, what you cried.

It was particularly one student whose father was a clinical psychologist. And so she was just so shocked. She was like, wow. Like I had no idea you could do that. That's so cool.

Danielle: And I'm like, that's what I'm saying. So here's, this is one of my hot takes, my hot, my hot takes. I went to school with a lot. Oh my God.

I'm like, we're, we're saying this on recording. One of my hot takes is, uh, we need to think about, so we've been talking about like generational trauma. Generational wisdom, generational joy. Yes, that all exists, but I would encourage the, the current like therapy students who have psychologists and therapists parents.

To just take a deep look at about about what what's not gonna work anymore. Like what needs to be what needs to be evolved here. Um, because yes, those, those modalities, those, those ways of, of, of being in relationship or we're effective, but also like our, I mean, think about Gen Z. Think of how much more expansive they are.

Think of what they need. They're going to need something different. Then the way that your father, the psychologist did it for his friends. You know, and, and we're responsible for, for being in relationship to that evolution, you know, um, in creative with what it is that is being asked of us a big part of the decolonizing psychedelic therapy things is kind of funny because it's like, it has this like radical kind of terminology that invites a lot of people who are kind of interested or drawn towards those words and what it secretly is all about is like, We're the modern spiritual healers in hiding.

That's really what it's all about. Is that, you know, like, if, if you and I'll give this little thing just to go for it. It is like, before there were institutions and before, like, when we were more of a collectivist society, and we were like, decolonial, like, prior to colonization, um, The largest structures within a society would be the temples.

They would be the places of spiritual worship. Like when you thought of the community, the ecosystem, the place that was at the center was the spiritual ground where we would come together. When institutions, academia, banks, businesses came into play, now we've got Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. That's the largest structure.

And now, like, and everywhere you go, that's the institution. Now it's a campus, a college campus. And we yearn for, we grieve for that, that spiritual center. And so now that the. Institutions, the college campuses, the institutions are these centers of a, of a society, the people who are responsible for healing individuals have to fit into those institutions.

So then you get doctors and you get like. Yeah, then you get psychotherapists and psychologists and psychiatrists, because it's under like the Western colonial medical model. But then within those people, and the people who get drawn to it, I truly believe are coming at it mostly from, from like a soulful place, from the right place where they're like, I want to help people.

And it's a, it's a spiritual essence to be like, I want to work with people's hearts, you know, but then when you get kind of pulled through what is like our active colonial institutions. That's a lot of toxins. Yeah. And so, all to say, I really do think that like, You know, what, what psychotherapists are doing, you know, these letters after our last name, if you kind of work with that purification of the heart, you're doing spiritual healing work, you know, and how do we round into that a little bit more?


Nicole: Mm hmm. Through love and that how powerful right to be able to play that role in people's lives and to have that support. I mean, when we lose those spiritual centers, we're so deeply yearning for community that many of us have lost, especially as people have moved and gotten more sporadic, right?

Like, we're just so craving that community center and missing that.

Danielle: Absolutely.

Nicole: Yeah. I think it was hard for me to, to going through, like, just like you said, yeah, the toxins of the field, right? And when we're thinking about the ways that systems are impacting the therapist, the psychologists who are making these larger diagnoses, it was really hard to go through, um, in my trauma class, we were talking about different diagnoses, right?

And the ways that a lot of diagnoses overlap with trauma, right? And it's kind of this muddied water. The more that we get into diagnoses and we see how much of it overlaps with trauma rather than maybe these discreet boxes of types of diagnosis. And then within that to notice that like there were research studies where clinicians were given the same profile of a client with a similar history, but with the child who was black, they were giving them oppositional defiant disorder compared to.

trauma and the ways that that diagnosis is supposedly reflecting a problem with the child, right? Like the problem is in the child. They have a disorder, their oppositional defiant versus, Hey, this white kid with the same background, they went through trauma. And then the ways that that label goes through the system, right?

Any other person who picks that up and then sees that and then puts that lip. So seeing that sort of stuff and like knowing the harm,

Danielle: I just. It's so gross. I hate it. I hate it so much. That's another thing that I'll tell my clients when I first see them is like, okay, one, this is really non traditional.

Two, I'm non pathological. Yeah. I'm like, when you want to work with, play with diagnoses, we can have, we talk with it. We're going to play with it though. Like, it's, it's going to be yeah. It's like, we're just going to look at it and get rid of it's going to do like a critical analysis of what's in here.

Okay. And we're going to look at what makes you feel the need to have the label. And of course, I'm going to put it on your chart if you need it for insurance coverage, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Of course, we're going to do that because I have that power. I have that power. Somebody gave me that power. But I will say that the DSM is like, Sophia Strand said this was like, it's the modern day Malleus Maleficarum, which is the modern day Hammer of the Witches.

The modern day Hammer of the Witches, right? So it is, it, it is. Yeah, it's, it's 100 percent a part of the game. It's 100%, it's not broken, it's calculated and oppressive. It is designed, like you're saying, to specifically oppress some people and position higher others. You know what? We know what colonialism wants.

Right. So for me, it's like having all these BIPOC clients who like, you know, sometimes come to me with different diagnoses. And I actually am working on, it's like, there's like D prescribers. I'm like D diagnoser. Totally. Let's take this borderline personality disorder thing that you've been carrying around and like change it and changing it to PTSD.

Pretty much all my clients have PTSD. And I tell my clients. If you were to take this, what, how many pages are in that book, like five, 600, I don't know. Blah, blah, blah. That's not fair. So, take this whatever, um, 600 page book. If you were to erase every word in it and just write the word trauma. Close it up.

It would still be correct. Correct. It's still correct. There's shapings of trauma, and yes, it's like going to help us move through this. It helps us inform treatment, yes, in a system. It's like, but for that system, like for the system that's not ultimately designed to treat. It doesn't have an interest in treating you, really.

You know, it is. A business. Um, and all of this is so us centric, but you know, it is true.

Nicole: Needs to be talked about. I have many a therapist following the podcast, so we're speaking to them, right? Trying to create a different paradigm and it's needed. It is so needed in my opinion. And I mean, even DSM, right?

Like, you know, queerness being. In the DSM as something that was pathology. Uh, something to pathologize. I remember one of my professors had talked to me about being a young clinician in the field and being gay at the time and just having to navigate that reality when he was training of if I share my truth, I could be fired.

You know, this is directly in the book of what's. Wrong. And so like, yeah, the desire to burn it obviously is so strong. This sense of who gets to determine what is okay, wrong, who gets to determine reality, truth, right? Like all those pieces. And so it's deeply problematic. The ways that this book gets yield against people and the ways that it impacts their access to care, insurance rates, et cetera.

Like, oof, you know,

Danielle: yeah. So icky. It's so icky. And I love that example of fear of this person like hearing the like, like what it was like for them as a clinician and having knowing that diagnosis was in there. That's kind of what I'm saying. It's like a critical lens of like, um, of like folks whose parents are psychotherapists or psychologists, because it's like, and for us to it's like maybe not their parents, but maybe it's like when we position them.

The grandfathers of psychotherapy, when we position the, the people who made this field, right. Um, let's just consider their identities for a second. Name them in your mind, just picture them in your mind and see what they have in common. But when we sort of like, we have them at the altar almost, they did this, they did this beautiful cripple thing and they did, but also like, what have we internalized from their philosophies.

Right. And so it's like this person, right? It's like, if we, if we just celebrate the like, wow, you made this like incredible modality or methodology, then like, in what way has the homophobia sustained? How's the racism sustained? Like, it's, it's still in there. So this is, that's the like, like folks who need to kind of challenge the more traditional lenses that were sort of passed down to them in their like therapy lineage is like, I'm curious, I'm curious.

If there's ways in which the way your father is practicing, as he has been for 40 years, is still carrying that, that really icky diagnosis of like you are a sexual deviant, if you're, if you're gay, it's way worse than that too, you know, so.

Nicole: I know, I know the whole kink community was in there until DSM 4 was, yeah, until DSM 5, actually.

Danielle: So great example, which is like why the kink is one of the ones where I'm like, Oh my God, are you kidding me? It's so good for you. Thank you. So good for you. It's like, kink is, and that's like another one, a population that I work a lot with is like the community. And I'm like, wait, wait, wait, wait. And it's heart centered, right?

It's like, we found a way to say that this is not healthy for the psyche, like, it's literally so intelligent and so brilliant. This is just my little quick kink thing. Totally. It's so brilliant to me that like, we can take our wounds. You know, like, and, and, and say, I'm going to find pleasure out of this, you know, so it's like, it's just, it's beautiful.

Like that system inside of the body that says, like, you know, and it's not that every kink comes from like a wound or harm, of course, but like the amount of times where I do see, you know, it's like, I've got like a client who like is talking to me about the like humiliation kink, you know, and I'm like, yeah.

Oh, yeah, like the just the relationship from the bullying and the power that you're then claiming that's like, I'm going to feel good from this. I'm going to make this good. It's like, Oh, I am at your feet and respect to you because of that. Now, you know, totally, totally.

Nicole: Yeah. I think that the, uh, what we consider trauma, right?

Like, if we take that larger scale, like what it's meant for me as a woman to exist in the society, right? That's an, in a trauma in and of itself. Right? So, I mean, maybe then we, you know, Geoff would say we're muddy in the water of like what trauma means. So I don't know. I don't know. But for me, it makes sense.

Like living under these systems, right? Living under capitalism, these various traumas and being able to play with them, reclaim them, have power over them, right? There are so many different ways that we can do that through play and through kink. So absolutely. And I think there's also that reality too, that like there's chaotic relationships to kink, right.

And like being able to name that too is so important. So I could see how that came from that frame. And it reminds me a lot of like the drug frame, right. Of just like drugs are bad, only chaotic relationships. It's like. Kind of like you were saying earlier, right? Like we work with that. And there's people who are also doing it in this.

I mean, it's all about connection, really all of it, all of it's always about connection, but there's also like spiritual healing and expansive too. It's not always chaotic, right?

Danielle: Just psychology, just

Nicole: Jesus, just expand.

Danielle: I love that you, like, are, you went naturally from the, like, kink to the, like, how this is similar to our relationship with drugs or, like, harm reduction, because that's exactly what I would say, is that, like, it's not just chaotic. Like, we can find these, these parts of it that are, like, really doing it in a way that's, like, so spiritual healing.

Totally. That's where I'm, like, I get disappointed in humanity when I'm like, you have the capacity to, boom, make this more complex. You have the capacity to expand your, your, to expand the understanding, the complexity, the nuance of this person, of this situation. You have it. It's kinda like the thing, I was saying this to a client the other day where I was like, we always say, say like you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.

Mm. You have as much capacity as name, whoever you think has the most depth. Yeah. The person I'm currently kind of obsessed with is bio cum Lafe in the like is in the revolution, not be Psychologized episode on the Emerald. Right. We all have as much capacity as biochemical off it. Use your tools, right?

And when it comes to people, that's our responsibility. When it comes to loving, that's where we have to be like, how can I, how can I love them deeper? How am I not understanding? If I think that this person is just chaotically kinky. Unhealthy are and are this person is chaotically using drugs. Like, what do I not understand?

Like, what's what's going on here? And how can I harm reduce, like, help them reduce the harms associated? Because maybe they don't know because they don't have any models, right? It's like, if it's rejected and they're told it's just bad, guess what's going to keep happening. It's going to fester is like those harmful relationships to it.

But if they have some options of like, Okay. Okay, here's somebody who's like kinky or using drugs and like is in relationship with a conscious you know, and you have a model of how to do this and we can like figure this out. We can fine tune it. So I don't know exactly what I said, but

Nicole: absolutely. I'm sure you saw the rat.

Park City like model, right? Yeah, just like at the center. We're always looking for a connection. We're relational beings, right? And, and some of us didn't have the privilege of relationships that were secure or emotionally mature, right? And had to go through that process. I mean, I'm just thinking about what you had said about finding the social workers and just the grounding, the love that you got from them and that being such a connection.

Huge shift, like many of us didn't have privilege, right? And the ways that that affects us, right? And then when we're working in this world, like searching for deep connection and deep connection, I mean, that's at the heart of all of this, right? Chaotic use or not, like we're always looking for connection and love.

Danielle: Uh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's why you're doing this, right? It's like you're recording these podcast episodes because like, you know, okay, this is where it gets really spiritual for me. So, Sufism. Yeah, tell me about it. Okay. Sufism has been really validating for the way that I experienced the world and it comes down to this place of like, there is a yearning for the divine, right?

A constant state of yearning, this like longing for the relationship with God. Use any word, use any word. It could be God if you're comfortable with that. If it's not God, that's okay. It can be nature. It can be the divine spirit. It's, it's, there is a tether that we feel into energetically. And we're all in relationship with it.

You know, we're all in relationship with it. No matter, and people have tons of spiritual trauma, but there's something there. And it shapes itself. It projects itself into our dynamics with people. We yearn for other people because we want that connection. They probably still closer to the divine. We yearn for like a different life.

We know that we were designed to float down a river eating berries in the sun with our lover. And instead we're going 40 hours a week.

Nicole: Oh yeah. When I hear about the Sunday scaries, I'm like That's your innate wisdom saying that capitalism is fucked up.

Danielle: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And because in capitalism, we don't have this space.

Again, the spiritual center has been lost. And we now have to go to these institutions, I have to get in my box and go to the box to work, you know, I'm supposed to be like, sauntering with my lover into a place of ritual, and what Sufism has offered me is just like a way to honor and then speak to and help people understand that place of yearning, that the yearning itself is, is it.

You know, belonging for the divine is the divine and I don't really know how we got on that. But, like, yeah, it was rat park. Yeah, it was like, just like that. If we had framework for what we were experiencing and knew how to talk about that and knew that like, gosh, look at how perfect all of these things that we struggle with are just perfect remedies for the absence of the divine when we feel that way.

Alcohol. Oh, my God. What a remedy. You know, spirits, right? Drugs, connection. It's the tether. Other people, the relationships, the chaotic relationships we end up in, you know, toxic relationships. Like, it's like Oh, my God, we're just feeling close, you know, unity.

Nicole: Yeah, craving that intimacy, that interconnection, that unity, the oneness, all of those pieces.

Absolutely. And so that's why I love the. Metaphor of the arrow. Yeah, that is so 100%. I feel like what my work is too is that, you know, Taylor Swift with that song came out. Hi, I'm the problem. It's me. And I'm like, okay, maybe, but like larger systems perspective. It's like not you, but you at the same time, like, you know what I mean?

I'll write her a letter. I'll write her a letter and tell her

Danielle: I'll sign off.

Nicole: Totally. But like, right. Every single client is like, it's wrong. I'm me. Something's wrong with me. And part of that is the system of psychology, right? Here's the diagnosis. Here's you, et cetera, et cetera. But like, when we take these larger approaches, one of my favorite questions to ask clients too, is like, where did you first hear that? First hear that you were bad, was it your parents, your friends? Was it God? Because that's a big one for a lot of people, that God told us we were bad, right? Like, what relationship created this? Because in my belief, I don't think that we're innately born with that negative self talk.

Danielle: Yeah. Oh, I love that question.

Where did you first get that? Um, and you're just zooming out more and more and more and you're seeing who's responsible for those voices because it's like, God, I love, I love the topic of like spiritual, um, like trauma. So who's God's voice? You know, because like, let's just look at that. It was really colonial.

Yeah, like the most you mean the like Christian colonizing God. That's like brutal. Yeah. So yeah, these are those are great.

Nicole: Absolutely. And so then being able to have that and ask. Then that next question to have, like, once you realize that and have that, like, that mindfulness almost right to, like, notice, like, oh, here's that thought coming in of, like, okay, that's not from my value system, right?

Then that next step of what narrative, what value system do you want to work from, right? Like, what is yours? What do you want to create in this world?

Danielle: Yeah, that's awesome. That's another part of like, Sufism within therapy, which I'm like, actually, this is such a helpful conversation, because I'm like, I want to like, write this all day.

We need you. So it's like, you're like, where, really, it feels like one of the tasks is to empty the channel, you know, like that spiritual, like, who is God? Who are the voices? Who, where is this coming from? Capitalism, colonialism? It's like, muddy, mucky. And purification of the heart is the task, right? Like, so much clarity, so much so that when your most, your highest self, your like, truest self, your authentic, genuine essence, it's just moving through.

Then you're not doing anything. You're not doing anything. You don't have to try anymore. You get to sleep. Rest now, you know, and so then therapists get to do that for people, like help people clear that channel. There's so much in there. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think one of the big things I'm always thinking about too is like relationships, even in the meta level, right?

Like, again, if you are listening to Taylor Swift, and that song gets internalized in your head. And then you're moving through the world saying, I'm the problem. It's me. You know, like the ways that the music we listen to the movies, we listen to the books. We're reading all of that gets internalized.

They're all relationships. A human created that narrative that you are listening to and is now on loop in your brain. Like, I think it's important when we're thinking about like, You know, trying to take the mud out of the water so we can drink some fresh water here. You got to be looking at it. Like, what songs am I listening to and how are they depicting me or my friends and other things?

Danielle: Wow. I love that. You know, one thing is a shout out to my partner, who's a wizard, a magician, literally, um, is, uh, they always use the word impressions. And I think that that's very wise. It's like, I think they were talking about babies yesterday and, um, how they're like, when I was, I had this chance to be with my friend's baby 2020, early COVID.

I was like, okay, I have like 20 minutes alone with this infant. What impressions do I want to make on them? They'll say like, well, I'm wanting to be careful about the impressions coming into my mind. So it's like this Taylor Swift example is like, you know, yes. Engage with the media. Sure. Do whatever you want.

Like, it's interesting. We have, we have an abundance of, of like stimuli as a delicious stimuli. And also, Okay. You are co created by everything that you're in relationship with, you are, if it comes in, how do you cleanse it? What are your rituals for cleansing it? What is your, like, what's the magic relationship of like, of the, what's the alchemical transmutational process?

Everything that you're allowing in. What are your boundaries for what you allow in?

Nicole: For me, and even thinking about, like, boundaries, right, of what impressions, like, I stopped watching horror films. Horror films are a perfect example. Me too. No more. No more. I play with fear and pain in a very consensual way with my partners, but, yeah.

I don't need to watch. I don't need to watch this on a movie, you know, where, like, my brain literally cannot tell the difference between Reality or fiction, right? Hence why I'm having this somatic response of, oh my god, you know, my heart rate's starting to race, all that sort of stuff. But then, like, I carry that in my body, you know, as if it happened to a degree.

And so I was just like, why am I putting myself through this?

Danielle: Like, So good. I mean, it's like it, that is, it's so funny that it's like, I feel like I just very recently made that decision to, or I'm like, we're done with the, with the horror films. We can't do this anymore. Um, those impressions. We know that this works because.

I'm just thinking of like IFS therapy is getting a lot of like support right now, which is, it's great. We love it. Also, it's parts work. We've been doing this for centuries, but yes, somebody had to put their name on it. So, you know,

And I went through IFS therapy, so I love it. But like, one of the things that works about it is because of that same shaping. Your, the impressions, your, your body doesn't know the difference when you're receiving the imagery, your body doesn't know that it's not happening. So when my therapist had me walk through my childhood as the oldest version of myself to go hug that little girl, I didn't know the difference between that and reality and I felt her hold me, you know, and so we spend our weekly ritual and therapy being in relationship with somebody who loves us, loves us.

We that's the impression and we start like expanding that like, we know that this is true.

Nicole: I'm curious to like, if we're going to dream together, like, I've been thinking a lot because that's part of the activism movement, right? The vibration I want to stay in is like dreaming of the new world, right? And what sort of world could we frame these? The struggles that we experience outside of a DSM framework.

Some things I've been thinking about, right, are like relational patterns, obviously the ways that that creates the dynamics where we want to show up, right? Or at least my framework from relational cultural theory would, would say that all of our diagnosis come from that, right? Is that we learn how to be in relationship with other people.

We're always trying to maintain that. And when there's something that can threaten that, then we either. Put it into the relationship and face that threat of disconnection, or we try and clamp it back inward, right? Like, I can't talk about my use of heroin, right? That needs to go inward. And then we're disconnected and then we're alone.

And then all of the struggles that come from isolation, right? And then also the larger systems and how that affect us. So I think like. Part of one way we could look at these diagnoses are like, yeah, what sort of relational patterns were created. And then also the ways that, you know, those relationships, like we were saying earlier, right?

The systems, right? Those messages get internalized. So that's a relationship too. Right? So we're examining. What sort of societal messages are existing inside our relationships and then also like a somatic approach, right? What sort of body experience are we feeling in this world? Because that's half of the equation.

It's just hilarious to me that like there's no training of somatic work in my Education at all, but no, yeah, not at all, but I'll be in like a neuro class and we'll be like, oh, or, you know, like, this is going on. And then physiologically, we're having cortisol in the body and adrenaline's going and I'm like, okay, so we recognize that these things create.

A response in the body, but we don't think at all about, like, how to work with that. Like, okay, dinosaurs. It's fine. We'll get we'll get there. We'll get there 1 day in the APA training.

Danielle: It's okay.

Nicole: So, I mean, I know, I know. So I'm just curious. Like, that's kind of how I'm thinking about it is like. Like a body perspective, somatic responses, and the relational traumas to systems, people, spiritual powers, etc.

But like, is there anything else you'd think of, like, how we could conceptualize these instead of the DSM?

Danielle: That's so good. That is so good. I love your brain.

Nicole: I am in school and I am going through my hazing right now, so I can actively speak to the hazing, okay?

Danielle: Totally, totally. I can hear you're just like, I want to shake the baby.

Nicole: I told my friends, I was like, I want to dismantle this system, but if I can't dismantle, I'm going to put a mother big dent in there, a real big dent.

Danielle: I would always say, um, like, and I, like a lot of my clients actually end up doing this thing where they're like, I think I want to become a therapist. And I'm like, okay.

And what I'll recommend when they start going through the process is like, you need to come at it as if you're entering the belly of the beast. You are taking that arrow and you are destroying it from the inside out. But you can't do any other shape like . It's like you have to know that that's happening.

But I love this, I love your, your concept here about this relational pattern. It goes back to that tether, and it goes back to the reason why we have to do this in a non-traditional decolonial way. Mm-Hmm. . Is that like the a like it's, it's, I see it as the invisible thread. It's almost like that channel that's.

Open that we work on purifying is old. It's white. It's empty. It's the emptiness. We learn this from like Buddhist psychology, the emptiness. And then it's outwards. It's almost like imagining we have tethers towards everything. And again, it's to our heart. So it's first in relationship to ourselves. And then it's in relationship to everything to our body and to like all the.

Uh, the, the epinephrine and the, the, like, um, stress hormones running through. Yeah. And it's in relation to our people. It's in relationship to our culture, our systems and everything. Like, I love this, like the DSM being like, just showing how, like what our relational patterns are. It's like, how do we gain the capacity?

The word tolerate has been coming up for me a lot in my sessions with clients, right? Cause it's like, I feel like the work that we're doing is expanding somebody's ability to tolerate What is happening in that relational tether, right? If I'm going to I'm anxious with my partner and I'm cantering, right?

Or like, my, my partner is, is like, causing a, I feel like there's a stir sort of occurring and becoming dysregulated. How do I work with that person and expanding their capacity to tolerate what's happening for them? So they can read into like. What cues? What signals? The body is so intelligent. Our emotional system feelings are, they're like their own spirits.

They come in, you know, like the bioakumalophic quote, emotion is not ours. It's not a brain phenomenon. It's a territorial phenomenon and it enlists bodies and how it comes into matter. Okay. So good. I'm gonna read it one more time. Emotion is not ours. It's not a brain phenomenon. It's a territorial phenomenon and it enlists bodies and how it comes to matter.

So that like what that is suggesting. It's not singular. It's not like it's not this individualist thing that comes from colonialism and capitalism, but it's rather a relational ecosystem. Like, we're it's existing outside of us because. It's in everything. I mean, it's in everything. I'm pretty sure I got this jar that I'm drinking from.

I stole this from my brother's house. Do you see what I mean? So I'm relationship to it because when I grab it out of the, out of the cupboard, I'm like, he, he, he took that from Gabe. And there's a feeling that comes from that. Whereas if the stuff that I had, that's still my exes. I'm like, Oh, You see what I mean?

So it's like, and all of that emotion is existing. We are responsible for like, knowing what's happening for us, not projecting and bleeding that out on the people that we love, like a lot of us do. And instead being like, what can I do to tolerate this? How can I work with a therapist, work with a healer, work with whoever?

To just be like, what, what's happening for me?

Nicole: Totally, totally. That was making me think about non monogamy. In terms of non monogamy, and when you were talking about, like, the connections to the outside world, at least for me, one of the biggest things I've realized is like, you know, The ways that the internalized systems of capitalism and other things, like have created the scarcity mindset, right?

That like deeply affects the way when I'm trying to secure a partner, right? And then that potential that they leave me or spread their resources out, right? The ways that that internalized, like scarcity mindset. shows up into my relationships, you know? And I mean, I think that's a really big thing to think about too, is just the way that our culture has been so constructed and how that then affects our ability to love, right?

And, and think about love in more expansive ways. It's. That's part of what I'm really passionate about.

Danielle: Oh, that's so good. I feel like doing therapy, like being a therapist, has prepared me for like, E& M, like skill and E& M shapings, because

Nicole: I'm like 100%. Right. There's a large amount of therapists. I know. In my life, ethical, non monogamy communities. I'm just going to throw out there might be some correlation to the ability to process emotions and communicate

Danielle: and communicate and, and like, literally feel into the reality where I'm like, wait, what? I have what? 30 clients. Loving is an act and it is infinite.

It is the resource. Capitalism does not want you to find out, you know, and is actively trying to get that out of you. So it's like, yeah, I'm like, we expand.

Nicole: Totally. And one when time and energy is not infinite, right? Like that's. The limitations of love being infinite, but time and energy is not infinite.

And then when you're working a nine to five job Monday through Friday and you don't have the capacity because you're trying to survive, then like, of course, you're not gonna have time for multiple partners, right? Like that's how the system is affecting our ability to love on very deep ways. When you're exhausted after your job and you don't have space to go on a date, right?

Danielle: Like these. Oh, true. They're all up in there. Oh my God. That's, that's so it. I just saw that meme that was like Polly breakups be like, Oh no, what am I going to do on Thursday nights now? Cause like, Oh, that's the schedule. And it's like, yeah, we're, we're, we're confined to scheduling these things, you know, it's just scheduling love to put, putting love in time, but time doesn't even exist.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, totally, totally. And I, this is a little bit more sad realities and pieces. I think that are important to talk about. Like I'm in the supervision class and my professor came in talking about her, one of her supervision sites during her training. She had just gotten there and they found out that one of the psychiatrists was sleeping with this client, multiple clients and this client, yeah, huge, huge story.

Apparently the whole office knew he never got fired. He was sleeping with a client who had a sexual abuse history, and they never fired him because he apparently had a family and kids, right? So like this whole like, uh, uh, uh, uh.

Danielle: This is so important to talk about because this, so when, when we talk about the really rigid therapeutic boundaries that exist, I'm glad they exist.

They are created for the lowest common denominator. That's what, that's what's going on here is that like, Yeah, we're, we're, we made these boundaries that are like, um, can't don't have a relationship with your client outside of outside of what I think is good. You know, like, especially if there's, I always tell my clients, there will never be sexual energy here.

We will, we do not chase that. You're allowed to have a transference and we work with that and I invite you to talk about it, but like, it will never be chased, you know, and. But, like, what, what, that, that rule has to exist because, I mean, honestly, hot take, it's like, we can't trust that, like, people who are sitting in that position of power know what to do with their, like, Yes, that's exactly.

You mean, like, Yes. So then we're like, hey, just don't even, like, you just, you need the very simple A, B, C, no sexuality in therapy, because you don't know what to do with it. Yeah. Yeah. Which is also why I'm like, I, it feels so silly to me. So silly that people can get it. This is, oh, this is so brutal, but like people can get a license to become a therapist or psychologist without ever having been in therapy.

Oh yeah. That's absurd. That's insane to me. And it used to be counted towards your hours and they just changed it so that you can't have it. It's not counted towards your hours. And it's like. That's the whole point and that feels very much so like one of those, like, this is the system is not broken. It's 100 percent calculated and impressive.

They took that out for a reason, you know, and it's like, the most important thing to do if you are in a position of power and you're holding somebody is like, go do your work and look at those parts. Absolutely.

Nicole: That's so terrible. I loved how you named it. It's that the clinician doesn't know what to do with that energy, right?

And I think that for me, as I was thinking about this in the last couple of days, I was just thinking about how, you know, before I started practicing ethical non monogamy or even thinking that that world existed and that you could do that ethically, right? When I was in a monogamous framework, I would have kind of came in with this like moral model of this issue, right?

And been like. That man is so problematic in his things. It's so bad. He's so bad where I'm kind of sitting with this now. And I'm like, what would it look like for that clinician that was causing all of that harm to step into a framework of ethical non monogamy where you had your wife and kids and you were able to discuss that you have sexual needs that need to be met outside of that framework.

Great. And that you can play with power consensually. With people who can consent to that and you can play with that power, sir, not abusing clients that can't consent to that. Like, that is 100 percent why I'm so passionate about talking about sex and kink and things, these ways that people are always playing with power.

Fucking always playing with power, but it's a question of, are you doing it consciously? Or not, right? And so like part of dismantling rape culture, I think is talking about the fact that people have needs beyond a monogamous marriage that they're trying to meet. They have these desires and needs to play with power and the, the, the joy that that is, but let's do it in a consensual framework folks.

Danielle: Like, Oh my God. It's really not that complicated. It's really not like, and again, it comes down to the, like, can, do we have the capacity to hold the complexity and the nuance of the people that we love or just people in general? It's like, like, I think of like queerness, right? It's like, really? Most, most of us are not straight.

So that's also another one of my hot takes. Is that like, what is that? I know. It's like, if the average person is on this like wide spectrum of sexuality. It's unrealistic that, you know, I think like, uh, I'll just speak to my brother's out, so I'll just like talk about like, you know, his experience with being like a bi man, you know, and like his beautiful partnership where it's like they, you know, he, he feels so fulfilled by the, like, she understands his, his mother of his children understands that, like, he's going to need different shapings of different bodies in order to fully embrace who he is as a person.

And it's just so beautiful to me that that's like. Oh my god, I just, I love, I love that that's there. Then it doesn't get rejected. Like my mother, it doesn't become this thing where it's like, shame, shame, shame. Nobody can find out they're going to think that, you know, for my brother, it's like, he's not a good father that he's not committed to his wife.

Like, are you kidding me? Like, yeah, not be more devoted to her. Yeah. You know, of course.

Nicole: Gosh. I know. It's so simple. So simple. Yeah, but it's changing the paradigms around it. Stepping into that more expansive relating what is the Gloria Steinem quote, the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off, right?

The second you're starting to like expand your brain, you know, you're having that. psychedelic experience. The walls are bending, you know, where is reality? It's a lot to process. But once you get to like seeing it through that lens, it's like, yeah, of course he's a loving father. My God, why, why would we think anything else?

But it was that deconstruction process to get there, you know,

Danielle: And it's, oh, I love that. The truth will set you free, but first it'll piss you off. I know, but it's true! But then that goes to the, like, all these proud boys, all these, like, Trump kids who, like, don't know what to do with their anger.

Nicole: There's a lot of repression going on, right?

Danielle: There's a lot of repression going on.

Nicole: It's all about creating more space, right? Like all of those desires, looking for connection. Right. And like, when you are needing that in a group and falling into these radical ones, like we can understand that. Right. But like, yeah, often there's so much, so much repression going on in those.

And like, at least for me, I I've talked a lot about on the podcast, like growing up very conservative Christian and how I would condemn homosexuals and then found out I was one later. It's so fascinating. Why that particular issue was fascinating. Yeah. so charged for me. I wonder why. You know what I mean?

I wonder why. So when these people are getting so enraged, I'm like, interesting. Like, what is this bringing up in you? Like, what is that bringing up in you? That's hard to sit with.

Danielle: That's the internalize the therapist thing. It's like, when we go to therapy, we internalize that specific voice that says, hmm.

It's curiosity. Like, I wonder what, what this is about. What is this bringing up? Why is that emotion? Like, what's, what am I, what is this pointing to? But like, you don't get access to that narrative until you meet somebody who gives it to you, you know? And then you're like, oh, I'm allowed to be like, huh, curious and not judgmental and compassionate about what I'm experiencing.

You know? Exactly. Wrap it like a little gift. And then surprise! You're queer and it's awesome! Welcome! Best gift ever! Thank you. Yeah,

Nicole: totally, totally, totally right. I'm always working with clients who are like processing, you know, A fear of stepping out and being out about their identity. It's right. And then I hear that, like, oh, yeah, their family's deeply homophobic.

Right. And it's like the way that these systems, the relationships get internalized. Right. And then that client's like, I'm so anxious. Something's wrong with me. I'm ruminating. Oh, my God. And I'm like. No, you are in a system where these people will not accept you. It's like, you know, again, that arrow, where are we pointing that arrow?

And like a lot of what we've been talking about today is bringing more curiosity, right? To examine the narratives of these systems that we've internalized that are causing us, our people harm. And where do we need to change that arrow towards and work collectively towards? Dismantling or putting a huge dent, at least while we're here.

Danielle: Right. Yeah, absolutely. I love that we're talking like it's modern energy. Right. So it's like, in the same way that we were talking about the anger, like we have this like very righteous, like very like, um, valid anger towards these systems, you know, and like, we need to be, fuck you. What the fuck did you do to us?

Like, it's not, you did this and then be in relationship to where it's like, okay. And yet love. And yet love is going to heal, you know, like how we are in relationship to each other and love each other. Is going to be the radical way that we do this, you know, offer offer, like, you know, I've been in, like, political movements for how long now.

And like, the thing that I would offer all my, like, sweet overstimulated anarchist friends is like, you know, us, you know, as we think too much. Just let me hold you. Let's regulate our nervous systems and our hearts together and just, and, and, like, recognize that, like, I absolutely still want to, like, fucking destroy, but destroying comes from love, you know, and it's because we know the disappointment and how things are going.

This is another one of my favorite things that I'm like, like, when you're disappointed about anything about the system, let's use that example. It's pointing to this place of like, I know that I'm worthy and deserving of something different here. The way that I'm supposed to be in relationship to this should be different.

I'm worthy of that. And so, Let's take that. Let's claim that part, you know, hell yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: You'd love the episode that I did with, um, Elmo painter, who's a somatic therapist. And we were talking about play as rebellion. Right. And like, when you're an activist, so much fire and rage and also play and needing that balance to like, feel the long term revolution, you know, so

Danielle: yeah, brown and Tricia Hersey, like, have been like, they're on my little educators altar of like, yeah, You know, they're like, they're like, hey, we need to, like, rest.

Our rest is radical and our pleasure and our play is radical. You know, I want that more for like, all the, like, exhausted, burnt out BIPOC, you know, then their labor, you know, like, sit down. You know, absolutely.

Nicole: Let me massage your feet, please.

Danielle: Yeah,

Nicole: well, this has been so lovely. I want to hold a little bit of space as we come towards the end of our time.

If there's any last words you wanted to say to the listeners, otherwise I do have a closing question and then I'll also create space for you to plug anywhere that you would like to link for yourself and your communities.

Danielle: No, I think, I think we've all rounded it up. Let's do the last.

Nicole: Okay, so the question I ask every guest is what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Danielle: So let's use the Rorschach response. It's going to be like, the, the intensity that you love is not a mistake. The intensity that you're feeling things is not a mistake. We're doing so much to numb and to point that arrow and say that like, I'm feeling a lot either in the realms of ecstasy or the realms of agony.

And I'm, I'm convinced that like, it shouldn't be this much. You're not going to be annihilated. You're not going to die. If you feel it, you have the tools. And if you work with the like relational tethers of all the, the, the, everything that you're in relationship with, they, they will, they will nourish you.

They will give you material, like to, to have the capacity to tolerate. So I think, I think there's that, you know,

Nicole: Absolutely. So, so necessary. And you've shared so much wisdom and I just want to thank you again for sharing your story. For trusting me and sharing that with all of the listeners here and all the powerful work that you're doing, you know, I believe deeply in the ripples of the work that we do.

Danielle: Totally. Thank you for the opportunity. I mean, like, this is like, yeah, this is us doing that specific. These are acts of loving. So I'm super grateful for you and like,

Nicole: and I'm glad that you get the modern anarchy. I think there's a lot of power that we need to dismantle and the way is love. Right. Oh my god, I love it.

Is there anywhere you'd like to plug for your work? People to connect with you?

Danielle: Sure, sure, sure. So, um, if you ever want to connect with me, my website is herreracyclotherapy. com. You can like reach out there or herreracyclotherapy at gmail. Slug wise, Alchemy Community Therapy Center. Alchemy Community, it's SANA Healing Collective's basically sibling.

Nicole: Yeah, that's where I'm training at, listeners. Yeah.

Danielle: So, you know, Alchemy is providing like ketamine therapy for like the lowest possible fees, but it's a non profit and it struggles a lot financially and I've been with it since its beginning. You know, and, uh, just shout out to Irena Alexander, who's like kind of holding down the fort there as the last standing founder and putting a lot of her own money into it.

Honestly, we do a lot of that. Um,

Nicole: and dear listener, if you, if you haven't heard Irina's episode, we go into a lot of harm reduction philosophies there.

Danielle: Well, so she's my best friend, the community, like we graduated together. We live next to each other. We're yeah. So, um, our philosophies, she gets all the things, um, yes, and alchemy money.

Um, and yeah, just. And that's, that's, that's pretty much it.

Nicole: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Danielle: Yeah, thank you, Nicole. This is so much fun!

Nicole: Good! I'm glad. I mean, I find this so fun.

If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcasts. And head on over to ModernAnarchyPodcast. com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.


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