Meaghan Johnson, MSc, RP
Meaghan became curious about the connections between thoughts, emotions, and the body in her late teens when she first attended therapy and started practicing yoga. This led her to studying Buddhism and meditation. She became serious about these practices in her early twenties as part of her healing process from symptoms of complex trauma. She trained as a yoga and meditation teacher and founded Queen Street Yoga in Kitchener-Waterloo. She also created mindfulness programs in local social work and educational settings.
Her graduate school research project at the University of Guelph drew together somatic mindfulness techniques and Structural Dissociation Theory with the Narrative/Solutions Focused models taught in her program. She continues to combine these practices in her work in private practice and at the Mindfulness Clinic in Toronto. She has conducted workshops on topics such as mindfulness, communication and vicarious trauma for diverse audiences including Google, K-W Symphony, South West Region Women’s Law Association, Tamarack Institute, Women’s Network PEI, Ontario School Counsellors Association.
She is known for her warmth, curiosity, knowledgeability, and enthusiasm for connecting with others. These qualities enable her to draw forth the wisdom of the groups she supports.
Empathy, Compassion, and the Body: Building a sustainable practice from the heart
Speaker: Meaghan Johnson, MSc, RP
We are often taught that empathy is the key to connection and rapport with clients. However, an overuse of empathy can tax our nervous systems, as our bodies and minds react as though we are going through experiences similar to those of our clients. Compassion, however, is the act of ‘being with’ suffering, and can lead to a generative state of energy.
Finding the difference between empathy or compassion is not, necessarily, an intellectual endeavour. Your body is a resource for creating a posture that creates a warm and caring atmosphere for your clients while maintaining a boundary on our own inner experience. Drawing on theories of structural dissociation, Buddhism, and somatic disciplines, we will explore a variety of ways to be in a compassionate stance that will support you as a therapist.
It has been an extraordinary year to be a therapist. While you may have had different circumstances than your clients, you as the therapist were going through a lot of the same fears, challenges, and distress. It was likely harder than ever to maintain the same boundaries you were trained to create. You might also find yourself now, over a year later, exhausted from the need to take care of yourself and your own family in the same way you supported your clients. You may have been overtaxed before the pandemic began and now are finding yourself feeling burnt out and feeling less connected. My hope is that this workshop will provide space and time to reconnect to the empathy and compassion that led you to this career and learn somatic tools that can help make this work more sustainable for you.
- Conceptualize and practice the difference between empathy and compassion, both in their stance as a therapist and as intervention with their clients
- Practice concrete ways of finding a compassionate stance in their body, or notice when they are feeling overwhelmed with empathy using the body as a resource for both
- Practice compassion for others and for self in a way that feels energizing and nourishing rather than depleting