Dr. Afra Moenter
Founder of Project Seizure Free
“My clients have taught me, educated me, invited me to deeply understand the complexity of (P)NES. Without their help I would have not come to a place of such intimate understanding of an experience that might have one name, though shows up in such unique ways. PNES is never the same, it is deeply personal.” Afra Moenter, Ph.D.
Dr. Afra Moenter has been supporting individuals diagnosed with functional neurological symptoms, in particular psychogenic non-epileptic seizures- (P)NES – for over 10 years. Her special interest in (P)NES started in 2002 while researching for her doctoral dissertation on complex partial epilepsy and PTSD. It was then that she experienced how deeply effective Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® is in the healing process of individuals diagnosed with (P)NES, and over the years her curiosity and commitment to helping individuals with (P)NES lead to a trauma-informed treatment protocol that has helped many to become seizure free.
At the heart of the Four Foundations is the idea that seizures function as a “reset-mechanism” of the brain, are the brain’s attempt to reorganize a state of equilibrium. A seizure brain is dysregulated, caught between hyperarousal (panic, fight, -or flight reaction, hypervigilance) and hypoarousal (freeze, numbness, dissociation, confusion). Through mindfulness based psychoeducation, based in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy®, the individual experiencing psychogenic seizures can learn how to self-regulate the over, – or underactivated brain, and find what Dr. Moenter calls the “unshakable ground” to walk on.
The use of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® has become more refined and sophisticated during Dr. Moenter’s daily dedication to helping those with (P)NES, her practice of relational mindfulness, her 25 years of extensive training and experience in working with symptoms of chronic stress and trauma, and her everlasting curiosity about how to end unnecessary suffering. Dr. Moenter received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Sciences with a concentration in Psychology and a specialization in Neuropsychology, as well as a M.A. in Therapeutic Psychology. Her approach reflects the synthesis of various psychotherapeutic trainings that she successfully completed:
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level II; a process that uses the body (rather than cognition or emotion) as a primary entry point into processing traumatic life-experiences.
- Gestalt therapy; a method of awareness which enables the client to focus on his/her experience in the present moment.
- Hakomi Somatics; a psychotherapeutic approach based on the principle that mind and body jointly express and reflect deeply held, often unconscious beliefs about oneself and others.
- Trauma Dynamics, a psychotherapeutic method working specifically with individual, familial and cultural trauma.
Liz is committed to supporting individuals diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), incl. psychogenic non-epileptic seizures – (P)NES. She draws from six years of experience working in the realm of psychosomatic bodywork, focusing on chronic illness (such as lupus, hashimoto’s, crohn’s) and inflammatory conditions.
Her trauma informed work, keen intuition, love of research, and compassionate yet direct approach, has helped many over the years to find their way out of, the often, challenging experience of body-mind symptomatology.
Liz believes that healing occurs when one activates the wisdom of the mind-body connection. The simple, yet profound approach that she employs provides those seeking improvement in their quality of life a variety of tools that can be used in the moment when stress occurs.
She values the inherent intelligence that every person carries. She aims to connect clients to their greatest gifts that they already possess. Through direct experience, education, and collaboration, clients can expect to increase their ability to receive and respond to life in the here and now.
Her training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® allows her to help clients access embodiment and genuine transformation in her psychotherapeutic work with people diagnosed with FND, chronic illness, and trauma. Under the supervision of Dr. Moenter, Liz translates the wisdom of bodywork into psychodynamic practice.
Liz’s beliefs, values, and approach to therapy emerged over decades of personal experience and study. She has been steeped in philosophy of the western canon and physical science along with the practices of zazen meditation, Hatha yoga, and Yin yoga.
Her education includes:
– Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® – Level 1
– Seeking MA – Somatic Psychology – Naropa University – Boulder, CO
– BA Philosophy and the History of Math and Science – St. John’s College – Santa Fe, NM
– Lauterstein – Conway Massage School – LMT – Austin, TX
– John F Barnes Myofascial Release – Advanced Therapist
– Gioconda Yoga – RYT 200
– Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Liz is currently studying Somatic Psychology at Naropa University with an interdisciplinary focus on the body and consciousness in therapy.