In this series, we sit down with the staff and subject matter experts (SMEs) that facilitate the many different workshops, Q&As, and processing calls with our Tempest members.

Today we’re talking with Andrea Glik, LMSW, a therapist who specializes in somatic healing. This October, Andrea joins us to teach a series of workshops in our membership program on the connection between movement and recovery, various practices for releasing trauma and anxiety from the body, and how sobriety, healing from trauma, and understanding the nervous system go hand in hand. 

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I started working as a crisis counselor at a peer-led hotline over 10 years ago. Until then, I hadn’t really found my “thing” yet, since the choices are often very limiting, and doing intense emotional work was instantly satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful for me. I had struggled with really intense anxiety and depression for years (which I now understand was a result of a traumatized nervous system) and learning about coping, helping others through the darkness, and nerding out about mental health with others really helped me through that period of time. Since then I have worked at various nonprofits, gotten my LMSW, and now have my own private practice.

What inspired you to study trauma and the nervous system?

I specifically started exploring trauma and the body while working at a queer health nonprofit. I realized that any client I wanted to work with (queer folks, trans people, women, people living at the margins) had most likely experienced trauma, and had that impact their body. All of my queer and trans clients had trauma, even though the mental health office was not trauma specific. They all had chronic pain and illness, many of which were “unexplainable.” 

It inspired me to find the mind/body connection, as I had experienced a lot of undiagnosable pain and illness myself, especially during times in my life that were traumatic. This led me to my training at the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and then to understand the power and adaptiveness of the nervous system, which is the framework I draw from the most.

What does the word recovery mean to you?

Recovery, to me, means ongoing. It means a lifetime of work of coming home to our core self, our inner child, of committing to healing. It’s an action word. It is holistic and must include the mind, the body, food, pleasure, movement, connection to the earth, and so on. It cannot be one thing. 

Do you have an affirmation that you use regularly? 

I often say to myself, “Your nervous system only knows safety or danger. No middle ground.” This helps me understand why things feel so hard, so intense, so life or death, when they are actually not! Like, why it feels so overwhelming and scary to open my inbox after the weekend. Reminding myself of that helps me bring in some context to why I feel so big, physically and emotionally.

Can you list a few things you have in your sobriety ‘toolkit’? 

Not being on my phone! This had become #1. My bedroom is a phone and screen-free place. This helps me stay regulated, be present, and get my time back from the vicious attention economy. Also, moving my body in ways that feel generative and not reinforcing unhealthy body standards — recently I’ve been hiking every weekend and that feels like the best possible way to move myself. Cooking and baking are HUGE resources for me, they have been the best possible stress releases since COVID and being at home more, and make me feel like I am really showing up for my body. 

What things have you been doing to support your recovery during COVID-19?

Talking to my sober friends! Y’all, staying sober is like, impossible, without sober friends. When I am in conversation with them about doing this whole thing, sober, it feels way more manageable. That, and being in nature. Like, as much as possible

What has been the best part about being sober?

Every. Single. Part. Even the hard stuff! The hard parts have shown me how much my nervous system relied on booze to self regulate. Being sober helped me re-access my priorities and spend more time with the people I actually care about, get into nature, and into my body. That, and I love waking up feeling good, waking up early even because mornings (and afternoons…) are no longer for hangovers! They are for coffee in my garden, journaling before work, being with myself and my partner, fully, instead of crisis management. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

When we shame ourselves for the way we have coped in the past, or how we are even coping now, we tell the youngest, most wounded parts of us they are bad. I did that for so, so long, and now that I understand my drinking and other things I’ve let go of, and even the ones I haven’t, to be that, I need them that much less.

Want to learn more about Tempest Membership? You can explore the program here.