My Body, My Balance

My Body, My Balance (MBMB) aims to introduce a range of embodied self-care practices to participants. MBMB will offer practices that research shows support self-regulation and enhanced wellbeing for trauma survivors. Practices/processes include mindful restorative movement, trauma informed yoga, guided relaxation, arts therapy, journaling, and other restorative body/mind practices (Strassel et al., 2011, Ritter and Low, 1996, Koch et al.; 2014, Phillips, 2015; Levine, 1995; Van der Kolk, 2014, McFarlane & Weisaeth, 1996, Rothchild, 2000). MBMB will introduce these practices/processes to participants in trauma sensitive and accessible ways.

A psycho-education component will weave throughout the MBMB programme. Embodied learning opportunities will be offered to support participants to understand the role and responses of their autonomic nervous system (ANS) in regulation and to learn to notice, track and map their personal response patterns which present as sensations and emotions. It is intended that this self-knowledge will empower participants to be more likely to choose successful self-regulation and care habits that support safety and connection in the future (Dana, 2018; Van der Kolk, 2014; Gray, 1999). Obstacles to self-care can be explored in the context of this psychoeducation and through expressive art making processes.

At the conclusion of MBMB participants will have engaged in a range of self-care practices and selected those which they wish to use in the future. Participants will have opportunities to create a “self-care container” where visual representations of any practices they wish to use in their day to day lives can be placed. These objects support integration of self-care habits in daily life.

What we offer

My Body, My Balance is a 60-minute class over the course of 16 weeks (2 terms.)  Clients may decide to discontinue MBMB after their first term if they wish to. After the class, clients are offered the opportunity to drink tea and coffee together with provision of time to continue the art and journaling activities to enhance ventral vagal activation..

A safe and supportive group environment will be offered, with two facilitators to provide guidance. This environment is suitable for all abilities and no experience is needed.

Clients are likely to derive optimal benefit from MBMB if they also experience group connectedness. In this sense MBMB has the potential to be an optimal place to support the goal of positive and safe social interaction and peer support for trauma survivors. As sexual abuse and sexual assault tend to occur in secrecy, survivors often feel isolated and disconnected from others. Rebuilding trust and reconnecting with others are thus at the core of healing rom sexual violence. Creating opportunities for fostering safe connection is thus likely to contribute to the participants drawing optimal benefit from the class.

Potential benefits and outcomes of MBMB:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of self-care.
  • Develop self-care choices in relation to self-care needs and autonomic nervous system (ANS) responses.
  • Develop an individualised self-care practice and develop internal and external resources to use it.
  • Develop and/or strengthen self-soothing, compassionate, and non-self-judgemental thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  • Explore obstacles to self-care.
  • An opportunity to be in a trauma sensitive and accepting environment to explore practices that support healing.
  • Tuning into the body and somatic sensations safely.
  • Reconnecting with and befriending the body in a compassionate way.
  • Develop increased embodied mindfulness skills and ability to tolerate a range of sensations/emotions while staying present.
  • Develop supports for working with states of hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal.
  • Develop pausing, relaxation, and self-soothing skills.
  • Restoration of a more coherent body-mind relationship.
  • Increased sense of self-agency by provision of choices and support to make choices.
  • A reduction in feelings of social isolation and alienation.

Who can participate in this group?
Anyone with an approved ACC ISSC claim and is currently engaged in ISSC therapy is eligible. Clients can request participation by contacting their therapist and expressing interest. If appropriate, the therapist can then request approval from ACC.

What do you need for an in-person class?
Everything is provided but participants are also more than welcome to bring their own cushion, blanket, or any object they are familiar with to help them create a “safe space” while they can participate in the retreat. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes that can be moved in.

Participant Commitment
We run 8-week courses and there is an expectation that participants will make a commitment to attend all sessions to ensure optimal benefit and be able to integrate these practices over time.

Outcome Measure and Evaluation
An anonymous evaluation form will be provided to participants to assess their experience of the group and inform development.

We will liaise with participants and the lead provider (therapist) prior to the group commencing to ensure we are aware of any particular needs or safety concerns that may require supportive attention. Participants will be invited to check in with the facilitators after each session if they require additional support and we will liaise with the lead provider to ensure participants are supported as needed.

Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural diversity and bicultural awareness are seen as a strength in group process and participants will be encouraged to express any unique cultural perspectives and needs. We will check with participants prior to the group whether there is anything needed to feel safe and comfortable.

2024 Term Dates

  • Term 1: 5 February - 12 April
  • Term 2: 29 April - 5 July
  • Term 3: 22 July - 27 September
  • Term 4: 14 October - 20 December


  • Thursdays 09:30 - 11:00 (Female only class)


  • Tuesdays 09:30 - 11:00 (Female only class)

Process for Lead Providers

The deadline for Term 1 Purchase Orders is Monday 29 January 2024

1. Purchase Order Request

To arrange approval for a client to attend the group, please contact the client's recovery partner as soon as possible. You will need to provide a rationale and request the following codes be approved:

In-person classes

  • SCGT x1
  • SCGW x12 (8x 1.5h sessions)
  • Time frames: 14 February 2024 - 10 April 2024
  • Vendor ID: VAH127 (The Nelson Clinic)

This is a simple example of a rationale that could be provided:

"We would like to request approval please for this client to attend a group course run by the Nelson Clinic (VAH127), which will commence on DATE.

The aim of this would be for the client to acquire some additional skills in managing PTSD and depressive symptomatology and promote an opportunity for safe social connection to address current isolation. Could you please let me know if this can be approved for the client? They are motivated to attend this treatment, which aligns well with their current goals as outlined in the wellbeing plan".

2. Registration

When The Nelson Clinic receives the Purchase Order from ACC we will be in contact to get your client registered and to advise you of the next steps.

3. Triage

Once we have received your registration form, one of our TSY facilitators will contact your client to triage for any needs prior to commencing the group. You will be kept informed of any decisions relating to your client.

Group Facilitators (Nelson)

Hester Phillips
Hester Phillips is a registered Arts Therapist, group facilitator and movement teacher who supports others to live their unique potential. She holds a first class clinical Master's degree in Arts Therapy, is a certified Open Floor movement meditation teacher and a graduate of the Restorative Movement Psychotherapy for Trauma Survivors programme. Hester is also the co-founder and director of Conscious Dance Aotearoa, New Zealand's annual festival of Conscious Dance. Hester's Master's thesis research explored the efficacy of trauma informed movement for clients with physical symptoms of trauma. Hester specialises in somatic approaches to trauma recovery in her busy private practice in Nelson.

Rachel Heartwood
Rachel is a registered Creative Arts Therapist, practicing out of Nelson and Motueka specialising in eco-arts therapy (arts therapy with and in nature). She received a first class Master’s degree in Arts Therapy from Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in 2018, and since then has worked in private practice running both groups and individual sessions for clients with trauma and/or neurodiversity. She lived in a mindfulness retreat centre for two years, supporting and holding retreats centered around mindful living, mindful movement, and creative exploration. She incorporates this work into her sessions, finding 'bridges' to presence through movement, forest-bathing, art-making and breathwork.