Energy Healers: Michael Cotayo & Kathryn Carey-Ackerman
NY Open Center: What prompts someone to work in the field of energy healing?
Michael Cotayo: A very specific spiritual experience led me into this work. When I was 13-years old my grandmother was dying of cancer. I walked into her bedroom when she was crying out and touched her leg, and at that moment I felt a surge of energy rush into my body. It was painful and felt like my grandmother’s cancer was coursing through my body. That was the moment I learned that I was an empath.
Years later, when I was focusing on a career, I became a social worker and later trained as a Gestalt certified psychotherapist. One aspect of why this type of therapy is so important to me is that like energy healing, it is a very somatic-based therapy.
NY Open Center: How so?
Michael Cotayo: Well, we work with trauma and bodily sensations in much the same way as an energy healer would. One distinction that stands out for me is that there is always a curiosity about feelings that people are experiencing, and a desire to help heal those feelings. For example, you may state that you are anxious, and in energy work I would place my hand over that anxious part, trying to shift or heal the energy.
In my Gestalt role, I might wonder what that part of you wants you to know and may ask you to speak from that place. When combining these two modalities: I may place my hand over that anxious part of you, and listen for messages, or ask that part to speak while giving energy. This, in my experience helps to free up the energy faster, creating a place of safety so that the energy can move more freely.
Kathryn Carey-Ackermann: Energy healing, yoga, tai chi, qigong and Gestalt therapy are all grounded in the principle that we have energy centers (chakras) in the body and that accumulated stress or trauma can often be stored in those centers creating imbalance. In addition, each of these practices uses their own methods to help release these blockages, support the body’s natural healing potential and shift toward energetic balance.
NY Open Center: What led you to a career in energy healing?
Kathryn Carey-Ackermann: I have been involved with healing practices for about 40 years. I began my journey taking yoga classes in my late teens and did not understand all of what was happening (and am still on that journey), but I knew I had found a practice that would help me heal from trauma I had experienced as a child, understand how it was showing up in young adulthood and move more easefully through life. Up until that time, I did not have anywhere to go with what I had been holding inside.
NY Open Center: How did yoga help you?
Kathryn Carey-Ackermann: The more I studied and practiced Hatha yoga, the more I began integrating what I was learning into my daily life. A steady practice of bringing balance to body, mind and spirit was and is very healing for me.
In my early 30’s I realized I wanted to share what I was learning with others and started teaching yoga and fitness to all ages. Not long after, I began studying energy healing and received my Master Reiki and One Light Healing Touch practitioner certifications. I have my own healing practice and teach healing workshops. Most recently, I have been studying and teaching qigong and tai chi. I find integrating the healing aspects of these practices into my work as a healer is very beneficial as well.
Throughout my studies, I remain on my own healing path and naturally infuse what I learn into my teaching. I have learned that each of these practices have their own unique healing qualities but also share many similarities and apply to each individual experience. Each practice is very grounding, provides tools for releasing energetic blockages (stored trauma) in the body and for bringing balance to body, mind and spirit.
Michael Cotayo, LCSW, MSW, is a New York City-based Gestalt therapist, psychotherapist, energy healer, intuitive counselor, and group facilitator, specializing in crisis intervention, PTSD, HIV/AIDS counseling, substance abuse, and more.
Kathryn Carey-Ackermann is a Master Reiki Practitioner and teacher, One Light Healing Touch practitioner, certified yoga and t’ai chi instructor. Kathryn has a private practice and resides in Ulster County, NY.