How can integrating embodiment approaches supercharge your leadership and team coaching practice? Is there any science behind somatic practices?  Is embodiment the missing key to moving from transactional to transformational leadership and teams? 

Tune in to this week’s episode of the Team Coaching Zone podcast where host Dr. Krister Lowe explores these and other compelling topics with featured guest Dr. Carmela Bennett—an executive leadership coach and consultant and leadership faculty member at Columbia University.

In this episode Dr. Bennett shares her journey from an early childhood epiphany while watching the Nutcracker, to her sojourn into various forms of dance, to becoming a behavioral health therapist, to becoming an Aikido practitioner, to pursuing a doctorate in body-based leadership development and coaching, and to becoming a thought leader, teacher and practitioner in embodiment coaching and consulting.  Specific themes explored in the podcast include:

  • How awareness is helpful but often insufficient to manifest change
  • Integrating “being and doing”
  • Positioning somatic and embodiment approaches in the marketplace
  • Ways the body responds to situations
  • The science behind somatic approaches
  • Mindfulness and partnership practices
  • Incorporating the “neck down” in leadership development in addition to the “head”
  • Stories and tips for how to apply embodiment practices in one-to-one and team coaching
  • Resources for getting started in incorporating embodiment into your coaching practice
  • And more!

Tune in today to this episode of the Team Coaching Zone podcast and let Dr. Carmela Bennett help you move your coaching from the transaction to the transformational!  This is an episode that you will surely not want to miss!

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Resources Mentioned

  1. Carmela’s website is :
  2. Linkedin:
  3. Facebook:

Upcoming Workshops with Dr. Bennett

Listen to the Podcast







Part 1: Getting to Know the Guest: Dr. Carmela Bennett

  • Biographical Profile: Dr. Bennett blends her 25 years of experience in growth and development to teach, coach, and consult with individuals and organizations using a holistic, constructive, developmental approach in order to create transformative, sustainable change. Dr. Bennett believes that insight and learning about leadership models is not enough to develop these capacities—the ability to apply the learning to real-world situations and take different actions is necessary to make a difference. Throughout her workshops, courses, and coaching engagements, Dr. Bennett integrates leadership best practices with somatic and mind/body theory to enable leaders to see new ways to see their particular situation, develop the skills and practices that allow them to “walk their talk,” make the changes necessary to attain their professional goals, and live fulfilling, purposeful lives. This new awareness opens the space for a structural shift in basic premises of thinking, emotion, and behavior. Carmela coaches and consults internationally with executives, profit, and non-profit organizations and educators seeking to build their strategic leadership capacity in order to create innovative, mindful solutions to global, complex workplace initiatives and educational curriculums. Clients include DL Piper International Law Firm, The Natural Resources Defense Council, Berlin Public Relations, Bloomberg Philanthropies, NYU Stern School of Business, Stanford University, Columbia University, The University of St. Thomas, and the Bachrach Leadership Group. Dr. Bennett also brings two decades’ experience working in the field of chemical dependency to her coaching practice, holds a CASAC, and is a certified recovery coach and recovery coach trainer. She specializes in supporting executives, individuals and family members developing the awareness, inner and external resources, and pragmatic skills necessary to create fulfilling lives free from the effect of chemical dependency.
  • While doing her doctorate research on body-based leadership, Carmela decided to shift from counseling to coaching
  • Created Carmela Bennett Coaching and Consulting
  • Was invited to design a leadership course at Columbia University on embodied leadership that attracts a diverse mix of students
  • Develops programs for companies
  • Has a niche working with women
  • The body as a resource for power and intelligence
  • Positioning somatic approaches in the marketplace
  • The shift in leadership development to below the “neck” (i.e. emotional intelligence, body, etc…)

Part 2: Embodied Approaches to Coaching, Leadership Development and Teams

  • Human beings are wired to work as a whole system
  • The impact of the nervous system on our day-to-day interactions
  • Using yourself as an “integrated system”
  • Bringing the full human being into coaching: starting by talking about challenges with clients and how are they showing up, exploring how they feel about it, locating where it is showing up in the body
  • The brain that resides in our guts
  • Offering clients practices (e.g. not speaking up in meetings…contraction happening in the body…intentionally stretching up the spine and opening up the chest…role playing form both the contracted body and the expansive body)
  • 3 ways the body responds: contracting in, freezing in place, hyperextending/pushing forward/against: flight/fight/freeze
  • The neurochemical response to thoughts, feelings and musculature
  • When we shift our presence we automatically impact others
  • Shifting your mindset by shifting your body rather than thinking your way into changing
  • The body doesn’t lie
  • Mindfulness as an individual practice, embodiment practices through relationship with other (partnership practices)
  • Story: Finance leader and team leader – team was beginning to break down
    • Leader had 20 years of experience in high level roles
    • Was getting push back that he hadn’t received before
    • The relationship with how some of his perspectives were showing up in his boy and his presence with the team
    • Created a baseline of centering, open and engaged presence so that people can shift to something else
    • Explored how he showed up when stressed or triggered including when getting push back
    • Partnership practice: stand across from the other person; touched them with some pressure on the chest (stress), noticing where there bodies goes; what they naturally do is revealing; client pushed against Carmella’s hand and then lifted up his chin and looked over Carmela; Carmela then said to him “I no longer feel seen by you.” The chin lifted up might represent a number of things (e.g. dominance, being seen/heard, looking over people at outcomes). His spiritual connection to the challenge was about being “responsible to the company” and “delivering for the results.” Connecting to an energy pattern of driving, task-oriented, outcomes…relationships then get lost and we go around, through or over people. He was forgetting that people create the outcomes.
    • Client stated that the coaching changed his life at work with his team and at home with his wife
  • Body-based FEBI assessment:
  • Using embodiment approaches with teams:
    • The team as a system
    • Teams are co-created
    • Exercise: standing up in a circle; feel into all being centered; having individuals contract or expand open and explore what is possible from there; exploring brainstorming/collaborating from various physical stances
    • Creates practices for teams: e.g. making a certain motion, movement or gesture that is very forceful like a karate chop…what is it that the team is needing to do here? Make a decision, make a plan, being collaborative, etc…

Part 3: Resources / Parting Advice / Words of Wisdom

  • HRD Article: Learning to Embody Leadership Through Mindfulness and Somatics Practices
  • Carmela’s hosts periodic workshops
  • Provides somatic supervision sessions: how to bring somatic practices into coaching (face to face). Virtually in the future.
  • Parting advice: not to be afraid of exploring and integrating this into your practice. This is part of Carmela’s mission to bring humanity back to the workplace and to manifest the kind of leadership that people really want to follow. Integrate the spiritual parts of ourselves back into the work. We see the impact of losing our humanity in the various sectors we work in (work, education, politics, etc…). Not siloing.   Leading with what we feel is real.


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