Get to Know Aleya: Interview with a Therapist
Gabe: Hello! Today I am here with Aleya Littleton of Wild and Wonderful Life Psychotherapy and Nirodha Therapy Group. Thanks for joining us today.
Aleya: Stoked to be here, Gabe!
Gabe: Great, so I'm just going to ask you a couple of questions to just have your potential clients and future clients be able to just know a little bit more about yourself and some maybe in some nonconventional ways.
Aleya: OK, let's go for it.
Gabe: All right. Yeah. So let's just maybe start out with just your normal sort of introduction or just general elevator spiel.
Aleya: Perfect. I'm cracking my knuckles here... My name is Aleya Littleton of Wild and Wonderful Life Counseling, and I am a somatically focused, nature based adventure therapist. Big mouthful. But basically that means that I like to bring people back into contact with their bodies through the use of experience.
I am a trauma therapist first and foremost, which means that I deal with people who have gone through stuff that is so overwhelming that it makes sense to disconnect from your bodies. And so through the use of nature, medicine, assisted therapy, movement, exercise and, you know, just giving space to sit and feel, I help them reconnect with their bodies and to heal through that reconnection.
Gabe: Wow. That was really well said and sounds great. So, yes. What kind of led you into this path and why did you become a therapist in the first place?
Aleya: Yeah, so this is a story that I have told over and over. When I was in when I was an undergrad, I was able to take a rock climbing class and that just really stuck with me.
I've always been, I wouldn't say an outdoorsy person like I, I like doing stuff and I like gear. So I got to spend more time outside and found this activity full of technical expertise and potential skills to master. And when I got into it, it was like, OK, this fits. And that was really my pathway into really solidifying my connection with the outdoors and learning that the outdoors was a place that I could calm and feel better, good about myself, good about my world, and just at peace for a little while.
So after my career as a science teacher and a NASA educator, I decided to move into the world of therapy crazily enough. I was like, yeah, we can do this with rock climbing. And that's when I invented adventure therapy. Luckily, there are several Masters degrees with an adventure therapy certificate. So I went to Prescot College looking to help women recover from trauma using rock climbing as a primary modality.
Then my curiosity just exploded and kind of moved on to doing body based stuff, to doing medicine, assisted work, to hiking, to mountaineering, to using movement and sound and heart rate variability. I don't know if I mentioned this yet. I'm a nerd - like I am a huge nerd. And so my motivation to be a therapist and to hold space for people who are just really going through the shit right now, is - I want to save the world. I want to eliminate suffering. I want people to lead happy lives where they feel content and whole. And I feel like I can do that with the tools and skills that I've learned.
Gabe: Well, that's great. And yeah, it's so amazing to just hear you say how it has sort of just all kind of fell into your lap and all kind of connected and just. Yeah, it's just so amazing to be able to have all those parts of your life come together and for you to be able to do something that you really feel can help people and help change the world for better things. Yeah. So what is your general definition of health?
Aleya: I like this question. My definition of health is flexibility and adaptability. We see as we age, things start to get stiff. If we're injured, we lose range of motion. If we're emotionally hurt, we constrict. If we're traumatized, if we're intellectually exhausted, we become inflexible and unable to learn new things. Life is primarily about change and adapting to that change. So if my clients can be more flexible with themselves, with their point of view of the world, with their families, their relationships with how they treat their bodies, then I - I call that healthy.
Gabe: I really like that sort of a different approach and understanding of health. It really comes down to this bigger. This really whole picture of health, that's great. All right, so here's kind of a different kind of question. If you had to pick between being a hunter or a gatherer, which one feels right for you
Aleya: That's a strange question for me, because I kind of associate hunting with the masculine and gathering with the feminine. And I definitely have both of those parts. I aggressively hunt down new information and I take trainings. I've got CEU's I haven't completed. I think I could probably be that person who just gets degree after degree after degree and be really content. But at the same time, gathering is that slow connected process of looking at what's needed and creating a resource or a team or a recipe that helps, you know, someone thrive. So I'm going to be that weird person and put myself right in the middle.
Gabe: Yeah, I think from that where you said it sounds like you definitely have a lot of both of those aspects and you use them for both your personal life and for your general philosophy on what you're trying to do. So that's great. So what were you like in high school when you were a little bit younger?
Aleya: Oh, I said I was a nerd. Yeah, nerd and goody two shoes. I grew up in a really conservative environment and I didn't really take any risks or do anything, "bad" until I was an adult and could receive the full weight of the law. I was really outgoing. I’ve mellowed out a little bit, kind of found my balance between introverted and extroverted. Ironically enough, I loved playing in the woods when I was little, I had forts and trails, and, you know, still for some reason it didn't really click that the outdoors was a resource for me. I also loved figuring out how things work. I took physics, my junior year of high school, and it just blew my world wide open.
And that's why I got into education initially because I wanted to give students that same experience that I did of going, "Holy, wow!" The world is way bigger and more exciting and complex and nuanced than I ever thought it was.
Gabe: OK, yeah, that's awesome. So you mentioned a little bit in your reflection on high school and sort of who you were as a person there. But if you had to narrow it down, what inspires you specifically?
Aleya: *Long silence* Big mountains, terrifying waterfalls, huge lightning storms, anything where I feel small. Also, you know, to think of this in a different way, I feel small around people who have done great things. And there are, you know, so many ways to define something great from that massive public speech that just inspired or changed a generation or, you know, shifted the political landscape all the way to somebody who was courageous enough to step outside of what was comfortable and familiar for them. And the result being their whole life has been changed and is different.
Gabe: Great answer. Thank you. So here's a different kind of question. If you were given an elephant and you can't give it away or sell it, what do you do with that elephant?
Aleya: I would immediately move somewhere in the jungle where my elephants and I could live out a peaceful and happy life. I would drop everything and get the hell out of Dodge. One of my dreams is to go volunteer at an elephant sanctuary and cuddle baby elephants. So I think I would just leave. We'd be done here.
Gabe: That sounds like a really, really fun escape there. Hopefully someday they get to play with some baby elephants in the sanctuary. All right. So just a couple more questions here. If you were to describe the perfect date, how would that look?
Aleya: The perfect date... June 2nd. *Laughs* Not too cold, not too hot out here in Colorado. We might have some snow, but it's kind of hit or miss. But the afternoon thunderstorms really haven't rolled on and taken effect and messed up your climbing plans. So, yeah, beginning of June, probably the second.
Gabe: Thanks for that. Anything else? Anything else you want any of the world or any potential clients to know about you?
Aleya: Well, my philosophy around healing, like I said, the definition of health is flexibility, but my philosophy of healing is that it's done through relationship. When you come to have therapy with me, yeah, you get this eccentric personality. But at the same time, it is impossible to offend me because this is about you. Our work together will be about you. And I will do my absolute best to tailor the therapy to go hunting for the right strategies and the right techniques for you, because every single person is different, just like this world is huge and exciting and fascinating and full of joy and pain and contentment and darkness and light, so is every person that I see.
Every one of my clients I end up just developing this huge affinity for because the closer you study something, the more likely you are to appreciate it, if not fall in love with it. Healing, in my opinion, and my training, in my view, comes through relationship. And so you and I get to navigate your darkness, your in's and out's, your quirks, your eccentricities. And instead of doing it alone like you have been for a long, long time, you get to do it with somebody who is completely focused on you, who doesn't give a shit about your past and who will be 100 percent your advocate moving forward into the future.
Gabe: Wow. Thanks a lot. I mean, that's that's such a great, great summarization of just who you are as a person. And your clients are extremely lucky to have you.
Aleya: Thanks, Gabe. Bye!