Get To Know Dr. Nicole Coffelt

SF Stress therapist Doug Newton, LMFT, sat down with Dr. Nicole (Nikki) Coffelt to chat about how she got started working as a psychologist, how she works with her clients, and more.

How did you become interested in psychology in the first place?

From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by human behavior.  I used to read author biographies before diving into fiction and nonfiction alike – as I felt their stories contextualized and enriched the stories they had written!

You seem to understand a lot about shame.  How do you support your clients to help them deal with shame?

I have extensive training in somatic experiencing, which deals with shame (especially developmental shame) on a deep, cellular level. We view this as an embodied experience – and one that is generally resistant to mere cognitive “reprogramming” or “restructuring”  Although the latter certainly does initially help to counter and challenge the shame-based conditioning we are all immersed in here in America, day in and day out .  I also like to focus on solutions with my clients, such as developing a nurturing and generative inner voice that will eventually become “louder” than the introjects that get in the way of a person stepping into their fullest potential.

How does a focus on the body help people work through difficult experiences and come into a more accepting sense of self? 

As Babette Rothschild once said, “The body remembers.”    We all store accumulated, pleasant and traumatic memories that can keep people stuck in overwhelming experiences from the past that will guide our present-day journey .  Incorporating the body in a safe, therapeutic container assists people in metabolizing past experiences so they can finally move forward with their lives .  Greater congruence between the mind and body, tapping more of their potential and encouraging overall nervous system health are just a few potential outcomes.

How do you think your personal experiences translate into helping your clients?  

I truly walk my talk .  I have been on a personal journey of recovery and healing for nearly two decades .  I understand intimately what it feels like to be broken, in total despair and also to reclaim the most essential parts of oneself in order to truly self actualize.  It is possible.  And so very rewarding .

Tell me about how you support the LGBTQ population?   

As a member of the LGBTQ community myself – these clients feel like home to me.  Marginalized populations often have unique experiences that people from more privileged, mainstream backgrounds simply don’t understand.  I work skillfully with those looking for a refuge in which to claim their brilliance, beauty and sovereignty – in a world continuously trying to erode and erase these aspects of the queer community .  

What have you found useful around building trust with clients who experience shame, self-blame and trouble with self-judgment?  

I have a warm and empathic style, and remain pretty neutral when working with clients’ self criticism . I bring in and teach the Jungian concept of shadow work and assist the client in transforming the deeper layers of their shame.

How do you weave the arts into your work with clients?  

I don’t directly do “art therapy” with people but my relational style is very curious, spontaneous and organic/spacious.  This comes directly from many years of the inner / outer work required of professional artists.

Interested in working with Nicole? Schedule your appointment here.