Aline: Nina, tell us about your background and your interests as a practitioner?

Nina: My initial background is in literature, after which I studied counseling psychology at Pacifica, a depth psychology program with a Jungian orientation. Pacifica offers interweavings of literature, poetry, mythology, and psychology with a deep sense of psyche and soul. I've never resonated with mainstream mental health models. I just don't see health as primarily residing in the mental realm. I see it in the energetic body, the spiritual body, and the physical body—in the full body.

After I graduated from Pacifica in 2012, my path led me in different directions. I taught English, and I worked in publishing. I had a hard time finding my calling in psychology. I had yet to find the right fit.  

Somatics at this time was coming into the mainstream. I was feeling my way into my body and trying to discover my calling regarding my path as a practitioner and what I wanted to bring forward in my work. There was a lot of heartache. Then I found my way into a Reiki training, and that was it! Working with energy, working with the body, and working with touch brought in the missing pieces. That was the catalyst for embarking on my path as a somatic therapist.  

I've had a private practice now for four years here in Western Massachusetts. My main interests are attachment, developmental trauma, relationship, and spirituality. I also feel that studying NeuroAffective Touch really aligned with a deepening of my path and brought all those areas together in a nuanced way. It filled in the pieces I was looking for. So now I combine somatic counseling with work on the massage table.  

Aline: Tell us more about how touch brought recognition of your calling.  

Nina: The archetypal component feels really crucial because the body expresses itself through imagery. There's poetry right here in the body. There's artistic expression right here. There's song and voice and the mythologies that the body holds and lives out. Touch brings all that archetypal material into consciousness. This was in the training literature you offered. There was a line that really resonated with me, which was about NATouch meeting the somatic dimension of psyche. That's what I really love in NATouch: the meeting of the physical body with its energetic qualities, its archetypal qualities, and its spiritual dimension right here in the physical form.  

Aline: The Somatic Dimension of Psyche was the title of my dissertation at Pacifica! To some people, the archetypal may seem etheric, far away, or unphysical, yet it so profoundly resonates in the physical body.

Nina: Yes, that’s what had been the missing piece. Because of my own academic background and tendencies towards cognition, the embodiment piece was so important. It was a homecoming in terms of the focus I wanted to bring to my clients.  

Aline: You talk of soul retrieval in your book. Would you tell us how you came to write this book on recovery and addiction?

Nina: The book came out of my own journey in recovery. I've been in recovery since 2009 through the 12 Steps—I’ve had a lot of practice with how the 12 Steps are conventionally practiced with step workbooks and a lot of writing, journaling, and reading the big book. I received so many blessings from that path. 

At a certain point in my recovery journey, I started feeling its confines and limitations as it's conventionally practiced. I don't think those limitations are actually embedded within the steps themselves, which are like the jewels. They are the essence of so many spiritual traditions—the surrender, making amends, prayer, and meditation, right? Contemplative practice. This is the core of spiritual traditions across cultures. That path is infinite, but the way the 12 Steps are conventionally practiced is very top-down, very cognitive, and has not been trauma-attuned. There's a milestone book called Trauma in the 12 Steps by Jamie Marich, a therapist, and writer who has looked closely at what's missing in terms of Step practice and sensitivity to trauma. Drawing those threads out is an important critique she makes. I wanted to offer a path through the 12 Steps that would allow the jewels of those spiritual traditions to shine, be more accessible, and bring in the missing trauma sensitivity, attachment theory, polyvagal theory, and somatics.  

It started as a small project. I was writing what I wanted to read. I thought: Oh, I'll just write a little bit and put it up on my website like a blog. But the more time I spent with it, the more practices kept coming, drawing on a lot of different somatic modalities that were interweaving with each other in exciting ways. Before I knew it, it had blossomed into a full-length book!  

Aline: Amazing! It's a beautiful, inspirational book. Coming back to the archetypal dimension and soul retrieval, this interweaves with your NATouch Case Study, which is about intergenerational healing. As I read it, I could feel pieces of soul coming back into challenging, fragmented areas of intergenerational trauma.

Nina: Yes, absolutely. 

Aline: You did the NeuroAffective Touch in-person training in Oslo last year. It was there, in Oslo, that awareness of the Jewish Holocaust that came through you in Oslo. 

Nina: The soul retrieval aspect feels really key. For those of us carrying inherited trauma, there are the intergenerational wounds passed down in addition to the immediate attachment wounds that manifest in families affected by intergenerational trauma. This wound is passed down from generation to generation in attachment ruptures and unspoken messages, as well as in the more explicit beliefs transmitted through family stories and narratives. The inherited trauma comes through in what's said and what's not said and in what we now understand as epigenetic transmission. 

In terms of recovery, for so many people struggling with substance use disorder, addiction is an outward manifestation, a symptom, of the attachment and the intergenerational traumas. So recovery is about meeting the wound and meeting the missing needs—the missing need for safety, belonging, and connection. That’s the soul retrieval—when it's safe to be back in the body, the missing pieces of self can come back in and integrate. I definitely see recovery as a soul journey. 

In terms of my experience, it was very, very profound. I've done a lot of really deep healing work around intergenerational trauma. Being from a Holocaust background—my father's parents were survivors of Auschwitz—it has taken me a lifetime to create some sense of internal safety. Going to Europe always touches my awareness of how my family’s story lives in me. The history feels so recent there.  

Aline: In Oslo, it was tangible because of the stones in the sidewalk. That reminder is so moving as we walk down the street, so vivid.  

Nina: Exactly right. There are visceral reminders everywhere. There are memorials and museums, and stumbling stones [Stolpersteine], like you said, literally in the sidewalk. There was a grouping of them right up the street from the training. I would spend time with these on my way to the training each morning. They memorialized a family: a mother, a father, and a young daughter. On my trip, I had several dreams about my family and the Holocaust. And then my session experience, which I describe in the Case Study, went right into that intergenerational trauma so profoundly.

Aline: You interweave your experience, your own touching into the depth of the intergenerational wounding, and how that informs who you are as a therapist. The resonance in the field is so vivid, and you write about it beautifully, about how the resonance of your personal experience helps you connect with clients who come in with intergenerational trauma. I loved that your Case Study shows how we use somatic resonance to connect with our genetic makeup. 

Nina: Absolutely.  

Aline: The somatic resonance seems so accessible to you. You recognize it and name it as an essential part of who you are as a healer.  

Nina: This is an area of discovery for me. My journey around intergenerational trauma has been very deep and profound in an embodied way as well as through my mind’s understanding, having read a lot and done a lot of research and writing. I tend to think in terms of both my personal history and a more research-based framework.

With clients, it tends to feel quite present for me. The learning for me, or the curiosity, is how can I be open to sensing the presence of ancestral trauma in the present moment. Is it present here? Are the ancestors present and want to be recognized? For the most part, I find clients have not had much opportunity to talk about intergenerational trauma. While it has become more widely discussed, I don't know that it is as present as it should be in the therapeutic field.  

Aline: My sense is that as we go deeper in developing our somatic skills, particularly with touch, it invites the body story. This opens the way for the body to remember beyond the time and space of the present. Time seems to be encoded within. 

Nina: That was my sense watching the sessions in Oslo. I noted this in my Case Study. Your demo sessions with the participants would just drop right into that intergenerational component. That's what I'm learning. I want to develop more into that kind of sensing. 

Aline: I'm discovering this as well. Working somatically is new, and it's not new, but in certain ways, it’s new for all of us. It opens up dimensions that go beyond what I could have imagined. 

Nina: Absolutely. 

Aline: It sounds like you discovered this when you first encountered Reiki. Something opened that let you know there was a whole world to explore. 

Nina: Yes, the safety that attuned touch offers invites the ancestors to be present. When some of the bracings can ease, we and the heart open, and an organic welcoming happens. As the heart opens to love, part of the vital aspect of that opening is connecting to the ancestral stream. 

Aline: The ancestral stream. That's right. It amazes me that we're touching on trauma, but as the ancestral stream emerges into consciousness, it’s transformative. There's something about it that touches the heart so profoundly. 

Nina: The gifts of the ancestral lineage become more apparent and felt despite or along with the trauma. Their suffering is something we have in common with them and with every human being. The felt experience for me has been that the love is not other than the pain, or other than the grief and loss they experienced, but somehow holds it. There's something so mysterious about being alive. When we can feel our ancestors, there’s a sense of … I don't know how to describe it … of not being alone in it.

Aline: Not being alone in it. That's beautiful and so true. Nina, as we bring this conversation to a close, is there anything more you'd like to tell us about your process and where you feel it is taking you?  

Nina: That's an exciting question. At the moment, I'm thinking a lot about the intersections of somatics, attachment, and addiction recovery. I also feel so resonant with the touch work that I want to really develop my touch skills. 

I've been an obsessed and passionate learner for a long time, and now I’m feeling called to stand a little more in the learning that I've acquired and carry it forward. That might be another book or building up the groups I've been facilitating or teaching in a more academic context. I'm not sure, but I feel called to be of service in bringing this work forward.  

Aline: It's inspiring to see how your creativity connects with that healing stream.

Nina: I feel blessed to have found NATouch. It was absolutely the missing piece that made everything make sense in my work and in myself. It's been a real guiding light. Thank you so much. 

Aline: You're welcome. It's a blessing to see how you are developing your work in a way that fits your life purpose.  


Nina Pick is a somatic practitioner based in Great Barrington, MA. She is the author of The Mind-Body Guide to the Twelve Steps: Finding Joy, Sensuality, and Pleasure in Recovery and facilitates Somatics of Recovery courses based on her book. She received an MA in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, an MA in comparative literature from UC Berkeley, and an ordination from Kohenet. She has additional training in various modalities, including Somatic Attachment Therapy, Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy, Reiki, Havening, and the Safe and Sound Protocol. In addition to her private practice, she is an oral historian with the Yiddish Book Center and a group facilitator at Commonwealth Collaborative, an addiction treatment center.