Presenting Caya Shobo’s Center Therapist: Jennifer Smee
At Caya Shobo, we are proud to boast our own “in-house” somatic psychotherapist Ms Jennifer Smee (MFT), who hails from Berkely, California and is also one of our most senior and well-loved Plant Dieta Retreat Facilitators, bringing over 12 years of experience working with and teaching Amazonian plant medicine healing.
Jen is deeply passionate about guiding people into their growth and healing, especially with the help of holistic, nature-based traditions. Her years of experience working with the Hakomi and Formative methods of psychotherapy, which focus on non-judgemental, open-ended exploration of one’s bodily relationships to life, are beautifully aligned with the deeply transformative work of the ancient Shipibo plant Dieta tradition, as practiced at Caya Shobo.
Jen has always been curious about the nature of being human and all the different ways people seek to express themselves individually and socially. We are so happy to have her expertise and gentle guidance for our plant medicine community teachings, both during Ayahuasca retreats at Caya Shobo, and also in support of those actively Dieting or Integrating their plant Dieta healing retreats at home.
Jennifer's Professional Background
Jennifer Smee's journey towards becoming a center therapist at Caya Shobo is rooted in her diverse educational and experiential background. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master's degree in Somatic Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Jennifer's professional practice is a synthesis of her extensive learning, training, and years of experience. Her comprehensive training in the Hakomi method, a humanistic, somatic, and mindfulness-based technique, has equipped her with the skills to facilitate deep transformation and healing. Additionally, her study of Formative psychotherapy, a somatic framework which focuses on how we form ourselves bodily in relationship to our internal and external environment, enables Jen to guide individuals in what gives rise to our perspective about ourselves and about life, the meaning we make about who we are and the stories we tell ourselves and others. Like Shipibo plant medicine healing, this work is rooted in engagement with ourselves and our patterned ways of being, and can facilitate helpful adjustment and growth towards a greater sense of agency and possibility.
A message from Jen:
For nearly 13 years, I have been on a journey of learning with Ayahuasca and Dieting master Amazonian plants in the Shipibo way. My connection with this sacred medicine path has added considerable dimension and depth to my life, perspective, and professional practice. It has taught me that profound possibilities for transformation and healing lie within Ayahuasca and the master teacher plants, when worked with correctly.
My perspective on Ayahuasca goes beyond the traditional Western scientific approach. In the Shipibo tradition, Ayahuasca is not a standalone drug but a conscious plant spirit which can provide valuable insights and personal growth as part of a larger ‘medicine path’.
In this tradition the approach to healing and learning with master plants is rooted in holism, connecting the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an individual and this also extends to the social and environmental spheres, emphasizing the importance of interconnected relationships in the healing process. However, as the Shipibo Onanya have learned over millennia, Ayahuasca and other powerful medicinal plants of the Amazon require enormous care and respect in how they are administered and practiced. They are not without their dangers and in my humble understanding, the enormous wealth of knowledge carried by the Shipibo master healers represents one of, if not the most, advanced body of understanding existing on the planet today for how to work safely and effectively with these powerful plants of the Amazon.
Ayahuasca has also gained recognition in the West in recent years for its potential to treat various health conditions, and I have seen, when applied appropriately, especially in conjunction with other plant medicine treatments such as Shipibo master plant Dieta, it can be helpful to address a variety of mental health conditions:
- Depression and Anxiety: Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions that can significantly impact one's quality of life. Ayahuasca, when utilized in a therapeutic context, has shown promise in helping individuals confront the root causes of their depressive and anxious feelings. When administered by skilled practitioners (such as the Shipibo Onanya) who carry knowledge to properly manage the energetic aspects of powerful plant medicines, and with the guidance of an experienced therapist, Ayahuasca ceremonies can lead to deep introspection and provide the opportunity to release emotional burdens and negative thought patterns.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can be debilitating and often arises from traumatic experiences. Ayahuasca ceremonies, especially coupled with Shipibo master plant Dieta therapies can help individuals with PTSD process and release their trauma. Plant Dieta especially can facilitate profound healing and personal transformation, and support individuals in reintegrating their experiences into healthier patterns and perspectives.
- Substance Dependencies: Substance dependencies can be challenging to overcome, and traditional treatment methods may not consistently yield desired results. Ayahuasca has been explored as a potential aid in addiction recovery. Plant medicine may provide individuals with a deep understanding of the underlying causes of their addictive patterns and offer an opportunity for healing and transformation of the deep avoidances that sustain such conditions. Somatic therapies make an ideal complement for those seeking assistance in their recovery journey.
- Eating Disorders such as Bulimia: Eating disorders, like bulimia, are complex conditions with physical and emotional components. Ayahuasca ceremonies can help individuals with eating disorders explore their relationship with food and their bodies. Shipibo Plant Dieta treatment can lead to insights and healing that contribute to healthier eating habits and improved self-image.
My philosophy for approaching healing is founded on an understanding that healing is a process of re-establishing connection to ourselves and reigniting vitality through making an embodied life. Growth happens as habitual, patterned ways of being become conscious, and new ways of life become available, which in my experience, is precisely the nature of how Shipibo Dieta healing and transformation occurs, when approached with appropriate care and discipline.
Through connection we heal. It is my pleasure and honor to be in connection with and provide support to the Caya Shobo community as, together, we share this journey of healing and sacred learning.