Nancy Napier, MA, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in private practice in New York City. She is an author, teacher, and psychotherapist and, for well over a decade, has been on the faculty of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. She offers her own professional workshops on subjects including parts work, the optimal future self, spirituality and mindfulness, self-of-the-therapist issues, and more, as well as workshops for the public on various topics. She is author of Recreating Your Self: Increasing Self-Esteem Through Self-Hypnosis; Getting Through the Day: Help for Adults Abused as Children; and Sacred Practices for Conscious Living, all published by W. W. Norton, as well as Sacred Practices for Conscious Living, 2nd Edition and Meditations & Rituals for Conscious Living (co-author), published by Lotus Blossom Press.

NJ Social Workers:
Approved for 15 Clinical hours by NJ ASWB.

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Nancy Napier

The Optimal Future Self: Overcoming Blocks, Accessing Possibilities
July 9-13, 2018

Working with clients, we encounter many early rules that told us who and what it was possible for us to be. These survival rules came from family, religion, school, and peer groups. They constituted rules of attachment and continued connection, rules of how to be acceptable to caregivers, how to belong. In a deeply embodied and unconscious sense of the consequences of breaking these rules, clients spontaneously hold themselves back from more fully inhabiting who they could more authentically be.

Often, attempts to break these early rules elicit powerful survival responses that may stop or block clients from accessing and living their potential. One way to address these blocks is to orient to the optimal future self (OFS). In this work, clients access the body state of the OFS, allowing the present-day body to experience directly the felt-sense of the OFS. One of the key questions we ask clients is: how does the optimal future self inhabit his or her body in ways that are different from present-day experience? Then, we allow time for the present-day body-mind to learn these new body states. This work offers a "dress rehearsal" of new body states, perspectives, and responses.

Because the OFS represents a new body-mind state, the process asks clients to let go of actively preconceiving or imagining a future, or attempting to predict what these new opportunities may entail. What the body learns the psyche tends to follow, so we emphasize the direct, em-bodied experience of the OFS in order to allow the present-day body to actively learn from this wiser, more mature self.

Drawing on principles from Ericksonian hypnosis, Somatic Experiencing™, and parts work, among other approaches, we will explore both the direct experience of the optimal future self and how to use it clinically. As with so many approaches that deal with direct experience, the more clinicians have an intimate relationship with this approach, the more we can hold a resilient and reliable container for clients' experiences.

Overview of work with the optimal future self (OFS)

  • Hypnotic elements
  • Body-based elements, development of felt-sense
  • Parts work and coupling dynamics
  • Family-of-origin/attachment issues
  • Demo


  • Clinical elements of working with OFS
  • Family messages resulting in over- and under-couplings
  • Breaking family rules
  • Ways to frame OFS journeys for clients
  • More hypnotic strategies
  • Group guided meditation - meeting your OFS


  • Accessing the OFS to address specific issues, physical conditions, and general themes
  • Issues and challenges that may arise in this work and what to do with them
  • Contraindications to this work
  • Demo on specific issue or theme


  • Video of OFS session or demo
  • Practice in dyads - an opportunity to be both client and practitioner
  • Debrief practice
  • Q & A


  • Additional ways to access the OFS
  • Group guided meditation - stepping into the footprints of the OFS
  • Teaching clients to say "yes" to an optimal future if an experience of the OFS isn't available
  • Q & A
  • Closure

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We are delighted to welcome Nancy Napier in her first appearance at the Institute!

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