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Empowerment at the Deepest Level – IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado

Empowerment Therapy Denver

Impact Personal Safety Denver CO

A self-defense class that changes lives! (Click here for the YouTube Video).

What is IMPACT?

IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado (https://www.impact-colorado.org) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to restoring empowerment and choice by equipping participants with the emotional, verbal, and physical skills to move freely in the world. Classes are offered for men, women, LGBTQIA, teens, and families.

What is the difference between personal and relationship empowerment?

“Personal Empowerment” = “I was weak. Now, I’m strong. Go screw yourself!”
“Relationship Empowerment” = “I was weak. Now I’m strong. I’m going to bring my full self and full strength into this relationship. I’m going to stand toe-to-toe with you and do my very best to insist on healthy intimacy between us because I love you. Because I love us, our relationship. And because we both deserve it.”

Are you seeking personal and/or relationship empowerment?

For some women and men, it is an extraordinary victory to be able to say, “Now, I’m strong!” and set healthy boundaries. Other men and women are looking to cultivate relationship empowerment because they want to be both strong and connected with others. The relationship and situation will influence which path to take.

How does IMPACT work?

IMPACT uses a therapeutic modality that helped the women in my class: “reach one year of sobriety”, “feel free to do all things with confidence”, “realize that we all come built in with the wiring we need to survive and that we are knowing and powerful beyond what any of us can comprehend”, “ask for a raise and get it, set boundaries and say “NO!” without guilt”, “change their stress response from freeze, flee, or submit to fight, reclaim their voice and choice, and for one woman “to finally lift the weight of my father off of me”.

What is this powerful modality?

Experiential therapy.

How does Experiential Therapy work?

Experiential therapy allows us to access the wisdom and memory that’s stored in our bodies and let this guide our access to our emotions. Through IMPACT’s experiential learning, we transformed old feelings and survival patterns into a strong voice and body. Fear became courage. Freeze, flee, or submit became setting boundaries, expressing one’s truth, and fighting back when necessary. Experiential therapy and IMPACT’s classes help individuals experience healing and change through the integration of our mind, body, and spirit.

This is one of my favorite therapeutic modalities to use in my office because it helps clients connect their conscious with their unconscious and break free from the limitations that our unconscious places on us. And yet, the level of depth my classmates and I experienced and courage we had to muster to “walk through the fire” in IMPACT was unparalleled compared to other forms of (in office) therapy.

In the fall of 2017, I took a self-defense class through IMPACT that transformed the lives of all 12 women in my class in ways we had not anticipated.

My experience at IMPACT:

“Toes to the mat!” yelled our instructors as one woman at a time took her turn fighting for her life as the faux assailant (safely) attacked us verbally and physically (face to face, from behind, and even while we were pretending to sleep lying down). While one woman fought, the other eleven shouted “NO!” with her, watched every detail of the fight, and cheered for her at the end. While observing “Toes to the mat!” felt challenging at times- 100% presence, no cell phone checking, no side talking with your neighbor, not even reviewing your “to do” list in your head- it proved to be one of the most effective strategies in learning, supporting our fellow students, and bonding in the most powerful way in just 6 weeks.

We’ve all been a part of different teams, groups, and training cohorts, but how often can you say in these groups that everyone was 100% engaged in your learning process? And how often could you say that you would trust your life with these people? This is the “safe container” that the IMPACT staff create in order for their students to take enormous risks in learning how to defend themselves, and it not only allowed us to courageously “step into the ring”, but also experience a deep level of caring and connection.

All 12 of the students in my class reported healing, empowerment, and personal and relationship growth to a degree that we didn’t know was possible!

More Reflections on IMPACT:

A WORD OF CAUTION: If you are a survivor (or even a thriver) of trauma, the instructors at IMPACT will recommend that you have therapeutic support outside of their program due to intense emotions (memories) that can surface as a result of the role plays and (safe) fights in which students participate.

A word of inspiration and hope: “The work begins as soon as the movement begins, which offers the possibility for integration of movement, sensation, and emotion. It’s our primary way that we experience ourselves as competent and effective in the world. Movement lets us know we can do things. We can change things.” (Joan Wittig, Dance Therapist)

This is VERY different than sitting on a therapist’s couch!

Personally, it was THE experience I needed to finally break free from my past trauma and begin to reclaim my power (after years of benefiting from different therapeutic modalities and spiritual and personal growth work). The students and staff at IMPACT, including the “Suits” (the instructors who wore padded suits and played perpetrators), could not have been more supportive and empowering, and witnessing my peers’ courage, in spite of their fear, both inspired and moved me to tears.

Finally, as much as I needed IMPACT to experience change at my core, I equally benefited from being able to process my experience on my therapist’s couch and with my IMPACT peers with whom I shared an unprecedented bond.

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In closing, listen to how IMPACT changes lives:

“I walk through the present moment aware, no longer followed by the shadows of yesterday.”

“Over this past year I have created healthy boundaries, found myself being more patient, gotten promoted at work, and have celebrated one year free of alcohol use.”

“Before IMPACT I was trapped, doing what made me feel safe…after IMPACT I’m free to do all things with confidence!”

“Impact was a visceral whole body learning like none I’ve experienced since childhood. I feel stronger emotionally and physically and better prepared for my whole life thanks to the work we did.”

“We all come built in with the wiring we need to survive. It’s inside all of us. We are knowing and powerful beyond what any of us can comprehend. Find it and feel it within you. It’s there. It always has been.”

“Taking the IMPACT Women’s Basics Course was the best decision I have ever made. I learned some extremely valuable skills that have helped to ease some of my anxiety and empower me to become more confident. The other added and unexpected benefit was that I have joined an amazing community of inspiring and courageous women.”

“Impact taught me to speak up and out more, feel more comfortable with my no, and helped me see that I’m worthy enough to stand up for – even if it’s uncomfortable at the time.  I can do it, even though I thought I couldn’t.  And even if it’s messy and uncomfortable, it can still be very effective at getting the job done – which allows me to be a better person, like who I am more, and feel better inside my own skin, and LIFE.”

“I had reclaimed my voice and my choice – not just in my mind or mouth or circumstances, but in my body. It may have taken 44 years and 50 seconds, but I finally lifted the weight of my father off of me. And in doing so, I found the freedom to fight, and maybe even to fly.” Read this student’s entire story, “No More Little Nice Girl: Finding My Fight After Childhood Sexual Abuse”.

“I’ve done and am doing a lot of growth since our Impact course.  I have facilitated Financial Health classes to the I/DD community (adults) and also to Jr & Sr High students at the Tennyson Center for Children.  Both groups touched my soul in profound ways.  I also will be facilitating/leading a ‘managing your healthcare’ course coming up for corporate employees.  And I have taken 5 (of 5) coaching courses thru CTI in the past 6 months.”

“Yelling “NO!” 1200+ times, setting verbal limits, and physically fighting back full force in the Impact training demonstrated to me that I can kick some serious butt if needed!!! Yes! You CAN change your stress response when you have more tools in your tool belt, and this has empowered me to expand my life and say “YES!” to more opportunities for growth, success, and joy.”

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If you are seeking personal and relationship empowerment, experiential therapy, or just a place to process your IMPACT experience, please contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III at 720.432.5262, or email directly to [email protected].