Healing Through Hearing
by Elizabeth Schwyzer
“A woman’s belief in reproductive freedom doesn’t negate her desire for insight and her right to healing following an abortion,” saidTerra Wise, a certified counselor, therapist, and body worker who calls herself a midwife for the soul. For more than 20 years, Wise has worked as an ally for women and couples facing pregnancy issues, as well as those who have terminated a pregnancy. “In our culture, there’s more shame about abortion than about nuclear weapons,” she said. “My aim is to provide support for women to speak about their abortion experiences without shame or blame.”
Wise’s background in healing work includes six years of study with Cherokee medicine men, training in clinical hypnotherapy and rape crisis counseling, and certification as a women’s self-defense, qigong, and yoga teacher. Working as a counselor in Toronto, she noticed more and more women approaching her with stories of abortion. After moving to San Francisco in 1999, Wise focused her healing work on this issue, taking out newspaper ads for her services. “People called saying, ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this, this is so needed,’” Wise said. What surprised her most were the varied ages, ethnicities, and social, political, and religious backgrounds of those who responded. She remembered receiving a call from a woman in her seventies who had undergone an illegal abortion decades earlier. “She held her feelings inside for a lifetime while people told her she would burn in hell,” Wise recalled. “She cried and cried on the phone — she was already healing just by knowing I existed.”
Now in Santa Barbara, Wise continues her practice with individuals and groups, and leads seminars for healthcare professionals. She’s also working on a book. “I think this is right on the edge of becoming mainstream,” she said. “Dr. [Andrew] Weil and Deepak Chopra are writing about the connection between the physical body and the emotions — this isn’t just new age, woo-woo thinking.” The real solution, she believes, is to support women in pursuing their deepest desires. “Women want to feel filled up,” Wise said. “The key is to fill up not with sex or babies, drugs or food, but with your own essence — what makes you feel productive and content, wherever there’s a sense of excitement and meaning. My work is about empowering women to know themselves and find what will fill them so they are always enriched by themselves and in a place of balance.”
4·1·1 Terra Wise will lead a public workshop, “Unbiased, Integrative Post-Abortion Healing,” on Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the S.B. Body Therapy Institute, 516 North Quarantina Street, and a weekend intensive workshop for therapists on January 6 and 7, 2007. For more information, call 275-1803 or visit terrawise.net.