SHANA MELNYSYN, MA, PHD
Cultural Anthropologist & Historian
Evolving Somatic Guide
Accessible, sliding-scale services in Peer Support, Somatic Awareness, and Integration of Expanded States of Consciousness.
WHAT I DO
Different than a licensed psychotherapist, I offer a more intimate, casual container for somatically-informed, compassionate, engaged, active listening. I support you as a peer and relate to you as a fellow human. Mostly what I will do in our sessions is bear witness, offering gentle reflections and prompts. I bring over 250 hours of training in somatic modalities to our sessions. I'll guide you through simple but powerful practices that can help gently quiet the stories swirling around in your mind. By reconnecting with the "felt sense" of being in your body, you can master nervous system regulation and take control of your emotional reactivity. You can develop the capacity to self-regulate during moments of overwhelm or distress.
My training as an anthropologist allows me to deeply attune to what you share with me (both verbally and nonverbally). Ethnography, the main methodology used by cultural anthropologists, is the art of engaged listening and empathic connection to people as they share their thoughts, beliefs, and stories. As a way of knowing the world, anthropology emphasizes a nuanced understanding of the systemic cultural and economic forces that create the conditions of human existence on planet earth today. These realities factor into how I offer support to clients.
In this late capitalist landscape, an increasing number of us feel the pressures of environmental catastrophe. We collectively suffer from our disconnection from nature. The pervasive cultural values of hyper-individualism, excessive screen time, loneliness and isolation, mounting economic inequality, persistent racism, white supremacy, and patriarchal ideology bog us down as we try to move through the world. Many of us have lost our connection to ritual, dance, cooperation, food production, artistic expression–all the raw, earthly things that defined our human condition for millennia.
A crucial outgrowth of these conditions is that many of us feel a profound sense of disconnection from our bodies. This cultural wounding has transcended its northwestern European origins and infected much of the world by now. Cultural norms emphasizing intellect, analysis, and language-based forms of expression have meant that talk therapy is generally the most accepted approach to healing mental and emotional distress. But for many people, there is a limit to what talk therapy can heal. In my own therapy journey, I hit a wall with traditional psychotherapy, and finally realized I was neglecting the wordless places by focusing only on story.
I'd love to help you connect to your deep, innate cultural knowledge. Your felt sense of being. This knowing resides in all of us. It remembers the wisdom of your body. It knows you are more than the stories you've created or heard about yourself. Through gentle prompts, somatic modalities can help us approach emotions through the lens of the sensations in the body. Many of us tend to spin negative narratives, which can keep us stuck in undesirable cycles. Beyond these stories, lasting relief can be found on the level of the deepest levels of your physical being. You have the power to bring healing to those wordless places of tenderness and tightness. It would be my honor to help guide you there.
Curious? Want to find out more about whether somatic modalities can help you? Email, text, or click the button below to book a free 15-minute Intro Session! I offer peer support sessions on a sliding scale from $60-$90/hour.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
PhD in Anthropology and History (University of Michigan, 2017)
MA in Social Sciences (University of Chicago, 2006)
BA in Anthropology and Religious Studies (Skidmore College, 2002)
60hr Somatic Attachment Therapy Certificate (The Embody Lab, 2023)
200hrs intensive somatic & psychedelic training (Center for Consciousness Medicine, 2021)
The Guiding Presence (online training program for working with expanded states of consciousness)
Workshop with Dr. Peter Levine: Mind, Brain, and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
Reiki Level 1 certification
WHO I AM
Welcome! I am following the call to cultivate and share what I have to offer the world. I've tried to ignore it for too long. I've been through the ringer of academia and have a PhD in anthropology and history from the University of Michigan and MA in social sciences from University of Chicago. My dissertation research in Angola, which explored the micro-level social dynamics of an anti-colonial uprising, was funded by a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. I worked in a hybrid admin/academic position for almost four years before leaving in July 2021 to pursue a path that's more aligned with my values, because despite my academic success, I no longer felt at home in a university context.
I decided the feeling in my bones was screaming out to me. The world feels too fragile and too precarious to go along with the relentless and often mindless push for normative "productivity" any longer. It's time for us to help each other, and to liberate ourselves in the process. Capitalism, rooted in the hateful and destructive logics of colonialism and white supremacy, has driven us to the brink of societal collapse. I want everything I do with my time on this earth to reflect the preciousness and sacredness of the human experience, and to help people find more balance within their daily lives.
I am ready to bring my unique combination of experiences and gifts (and abundant love!) to the world through my own unique form of care work. I want to reimagine what support, therapy, wisdom and guidance can look like in a world that desperately needs reimagining. I have worked as a nanny, a team leader, a teacher, an administrator, and a researcher in Brazil, Angola, Portugal, and Mozambique. I'm fluent in Portuguese, proficient in Spanish, and adept at cross-cultural connection and understanding. Healing, writing, teaching, and facilitating are my gifts—I work hard to make others feel seen and heard. I don't plan to stop learning and growing for as long as I live.
From April-December 2021, I trained in somatic therapy and guidance for clients working with expanded states of consciousness, including psychedelics. In 2023, I completed a 60-hour Somatic Attachment Therapy course, which focused on the ways our attachment patterns and styles impact our somatic experience. On an ongoing basis, I am reading, learning, listening, and developing the tools to hold a powerful healing container, and will be engaging in various trainings to enhance my offerings. I am developing the skills to offer psychedelic integration. The Guiding Presence is one of many training resources I incorporate into my work with clients. I am also certified in Reiki Level 1, and have a deeply intuitive sense of people's energy. I'm building my knowledge of astrology and tarot and can bring elements of these knowledge frameworks into our sessions. I believe in the power of sound healing, and have two crystal singing bowls I can play for you. I am learning elements of Slavic witchcraft and traditional magic as I connect more deeply to my Ukrainian roots. I have also been practicing vinyasa yoga for over 12 years. Yoga was the beginning of my somatic journey, though I only realized it years later!
I ABSOLUTELY LIVE to witness, hold, and support diverse people in all their precious beauty, complexity, and suffering. Sometimes all we need is for someone to see us. I make it my mission to see you in your fullness, your vulnerability, and your power as a human being.
INTEGRITY AND EMPATHY
You can trust me to keep my word and act in alignment with my values of fairness, compassion, and radical honesty. I believe presence and witness are the most valuable things we can offer other humans. My innate ability to deeply attune and "feel with" with others is a gift in these times where so many people feel alone. I am choosing to lead with it and accept it as my soul's purpose.
JUSTICE AND CURIOSITY
I am committed to the ongoing development of the ethics which guide all of my work, and believe that enacting kind and just treatment in interpersonal relations can be a political act in the service of a broader collective growth. I try to approach everything with a spirit of humility and willingness to learn and have my mind changed by new perspectives.
JOY AND REST
Capitalism depends upon our constant distraction and disconnection from ourselves and each other. I believe that stepping back, slowing down, resting , and playing are radical acts in this society at this moment. Witnessing and holding each other in our human fragility and vulnerability are essential to our individual and collective healing.