As an Occupational Therapist, Michelle began her career in the NICU. The babies there had so many necessary, yet traumatic, things happening to them to keep them alive and she could clearly see the impact on the baby and the whole family. She also worked in a high-risk infant follow up clinic and saw the continued impact long after they had left the hospital. These babies and families had so much need and she wanted to find ways to truly support them. These early experiences informed her search and now the way she supports families and their babies.
One of the most profound influences on her practice was her discovery of the Polyvagal Theory and Dr. Stephen Porges’ work while she was still working in NICU back in 2000. She uses the Polyvagal Theory and all the amazing science behind it to inform her practice, blended with another love, TummyTime!™, which is the practical application of these principles in a format digestible for parents. TummyTime!™ can help remediate so many adverse events, allowing parents to be with, connect, and have a relationship with their babies, some of whom have been through some really difficult experiences. TummyTime!™ opens up all the channels for connection and healing. It’s something that parents can do with and for their babies and so they keep doing it, which is fabulous for everyone.
TummyTime!™ allows parents to co-regulate with their babies. It’s so much more than babies working their little muscles and getting ready for their next developmental stage. It is a really amazing blending of neuroscience and the Polyvagal Theory with deeply remediating effects for both parents and children. Yes, parents, too. Parenting is an amazing opportunity to really re-parent ourselves when we allow it to be, as those implicit memories (memories stored in the physical body, different from explicit memory, which is what we think of as memory and remembering) come to the surface as our children hit different developmental stages.
If you’re not familiar with the Polyvagal Theory, it has much to do with our work in the Pre and Perinatal period and understanding our autonomic nervous system in a new way. Michelle has been guided to in depth understanding of polyvagal theory through consistent study, application, and communication with Dr. Porges. the man who conceptualized the Polyvagal Theory. If you’re not familiar with this theory, definitely look into it more.
She currently has a private practice where she is a Baby Bodyworker. She works using soft tissue manual therapy techniques and the TummyTime!™ method. She also teaches her TummyTime!™ certification program based in the Polyvagal Theory and has trained 350 people to date.
Michelle is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to our babies, our nervous system, and the Polyvagal Theory and we are so lucky to have her be a part of APPPAH!
You can learn more about Michelle and her amazing work by visiting her website: http://www.wholebodyllc.com