~Prajna Choudhury, LAc, Perfect Wisdom Acupuncture & Herbs, Oakland, CA

Vanissar’s greatest gift is her ability to be present with people who have experienced deep violence and trauma, to hold suffering, the effects of suffering, and the potential for healing and learning alternatives to the strategies developed through trauma. She has a unique ability to hold compassion for unskillful states in order to allow for more, skilled states to come into being. Her years of Buddhist practice and psychology background show up in her work as a healer, facilitator, teacher, and guide.

~ Starhawk, MA, global justice activist and Reclaiming Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA

Vanissar approaches her work on allyship with compassion and a deep understanding of the role of trauma in perpetuating oppression. Her focus on the body helps people move through the work in a way that goes beyond mere intellectual understanding.

~ Victor Lee Lewis, MA, EFTCert-I, Diversity Coach, Oakland, CA

You are an amazing and courageous teacher, Vanissar. Your embodied approach opens a way for deep shifts in the nervous system. Many of your lessons are deceptively simple: they offer so much depth, while being so accessible that the wisdom and the breakthroughs that result from your practical teachings often come as a surprise. This profound exchange is a joy to witness.

~Lawrence T. Ellis, MA, Spiritual Teacher, Activist, Executive Director, Paths to Change Institute, Oakland, CA

Dr. Tarakali’s work stands out because of her grounding in leading-edge multicultural theory, her blending of ancient wisdom and contemporary practices, and her insistence that transformative work be embodied into our lives in pervasive and lasting ways. I count myself fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Tarakali. If you have a chance to utilize her services, by all means do!

~Jacqueline Elena Featherston, Lead Consultant, Featherston & Associates, San Francisco, CA

I have experienced Dr. Tarakali's abilities as a colleague and as a client. She is driven by an unparalleled commitment to strengthen change and healing communities. One of her highest priorities is teaching individuals to recognize and use their true center to overcome past and daily trauma caused by violence, oppression, and stress. Dr. Tarakali is an excellent coach, with a gift for asking illuminating questions that allow clients to see themselves with fresh eyes. Her approach is gentle, insightful and persistent.

~ Sonya Brewer, MA, MFT Intern, Somatic Psychotherapy for Body, Mind, Heart & Spirit

I want to share a wonderful Bay Area resource with you. Vanissar Tarakali is a somatic practitioner, coach, educator, facilitator and all around fabulous person who specializes in working with social justice issues. She works with individuals and groups, and is committed, as a White woman, to working with other White people who yearn to navigate the dynamics of race, culture, and diversity, and want more fulfilling relationships with the people of color in their lives. She is well-versed in working with trauma, and has a gentle and compassionate way of working with all people on their paths to liberation.

Somatic and Intuitive Coaching

~ Ava Tehrani, BS, Long Beach, CA

I love working with Vanissar! Our work together via Skype has created this space in me of forgiveness and resilience. My body used to be place of betrayal; now my body feels like home or close to home—it’s been restored to me! Our work together facilitates my understanding of my body and my sensations and I am able to incorporate these somatic insights in ways that enrich my personal and work relationships and my work with students on the autism spectrum.

Mish Middelman, PCC, Team and Executive Coach, Coaching Enterprising People, Johannesburg, South Africa

What I appreciate about you is that you are wise, resolute, skilled and deeply perceptive. You are masterful in carrying on bodywork via blurry international Skype lines! Your process is gentle, transformative, and I love the way it is founded on the clarity and compassion of Buddhism. Your process feels generative and appreciative and that brings out the best in me. My body helps me to my truth, and you help me to listen to my body.

Somatic and Intuitive Coaching for Trauma

~ S.M., Mental Health Worker, Santa Clara, CA

I began somatic coaching because talk therapy wasn't working for me. Somatics has made some huge shifts possible for me as it works with my body, where the memory of my assault lies. I am now able to relate more easily with others, to say “yes” and “no” more consciously. This work has made me more calm and confident at work. I trust my intuition more, so I am able to sit in challenging situations and model new ways for my clients to manage their anger and intense emotions.

~ S.S., Social Justice Educator, Berkeley, CA

Vanissar, words cannot express how deeply you have helped me be in my body, connect more deeply with my feelings, work through unprocessed trauma, and then be capable of taking all of that inner work—outwards into the world. My deepest gratitude and respect for your gifts, your “magic.”

Intuitive Readings

~ Ishita Ghose, Berkeley, CA

I went to Vanissar Tarakali for two sessions of intuitive reading. Her assessment of where I am at, where I have been, and what I am moving towards was remarkably accurate, insightful, and illuminating. Vanissar taught me body techniques (to do at home); I started walking straighter, began to feel lighter, and more self-assured. Vanissar is gentle, honest, empathic and respectful and I highly recommend her

~ Amber Field, Musician and Healer, San Francisco, CA

Vanissar gave me a most delightful, insightful reading. I resonated a lot with the beautiful images she presented me. I came away with so much more understanding of my gifts as well as challenges. I have recommended her readings to my friends, and we have all been moved and touched by them.

Energy Healing

~ K.R., Oakland, CA

I have known Vanissar for two years, and benefited from her expertise as a diversity trainer and somatic coach in community workshop settings. A recent traumatic experience motivated me to seek out energy work. The session with Vanissar had a profoundly healing effect on me. I relaxed into a parasympathetic state not unlike what I had experienced with EMDR, and felt more spacious and resilient for weeks after.

~ Deborah Henderson, Richmond, CA

My last energy healing session with Vanissar was nothing short of miraculous: On my way to her I discovered my car had been broken into. On her table I realized my whole right side felt completely deflated, flat. The session with Vanissar restored a sense of wholeness to me that has not gone away. Vanissar is a deep listener, a kind spirit and a serious student of her healing art.

Organizational and Community Workshops

~ U.E., Non-profit Project Director, San Francisco, CA

I participated in the energy healing workshop to gain insight, tools and support in dealing with the stresses of work as well as difficult personal issues. I appreciated feeling connected to others going through the same challenges in a safe space, and I gained tools that I can apply to working with clients and partners within the Non-Profit sector. Setting healthy boundaries with co-workers and using these techniques to manage work stress hugely helps maintain my overall health and effectiveness in the field.

~ Theresa “Tree” Gee, Somatic Practitioner, San Francisco CA

Vanissar’s energy healing workshops have provided me with practices which help me cultivate depth and intuitive wisdom in my work with trauma survivors. Vanissar invites participants to voice what learnings would be relevant and useful, and skillfully encompasses each person’s needs and goals into her workshops. I walk away with practices that I can immediately apply in my work with clients and for my personal healing/growth. These practices keep me grounded while bearing witness to difficult stories and emotions, and help me to facilitate a client’s healing from trauma.

~Nyx Brimmer-Williams, MFA, Goddard College; Interdisciplinary Artist, New York, NY

At the Sustainable Self-care Practices for Activists and Community Workers workshop in Toronto, Vanissar offered her direct personal experience, grace, understanding, and a commitment to challenge and be challenged. She has a unique ability to create safer spaces in which learners are able to deeply explore their histories and motivations, to contextualize within larger social frames, and move toward new healing and integration. Her skill in holding space for individuals and groups allows profound healing and learning to take place.

~Luke Janes, MEd, MA, former DiversityWorks Training Coordinator, Social Justice Educator and Multicultural Counselor, San Diego, CA

Vanissar is like Batman without the show. You might not notice her until a moment arises that needs intervention; at that moment she is ready, producing just the right tool to re-frame the discussion or connect what was disconnected. The tool she brings out might be humor, mirroring, inquiry, or self-healing practices from her arsenal of personal care modalities. Vanissar’s workshop design and volunteer training has served a critical role at DiversityWorks.

~ Mariko Miki, Esq., Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Oakland, CA

At the Oppression and the Body workshop, I appreciated how you talked about oppression as a trauma, and asked us to stop and think about how oppression impacts mind and body. Thinking about oppression coping mechanisms in a non-judgmental way was very helpful; it's hard not to feel guilty about your--or your forbearers’ responses, but it seems crucial to acknowledge and move past them to find more constructive reactions. As advocates of marginalized communities, we need to be aware of our own relationships with oppression and try not to perpetuate it.

~ Nichola Torbett, MA, ABD, Executive Director, Seminary of the Street, Oakland, CA

I've taken several of Vanissar's healing oppression workshops. My work brings me into daily conversations about racism and oppression with people of color and other white people. After working with Vanissar, I notice earlier on when I'm slipping into defensiveness, denial, over-intellectualizing, or jumping to solutions to avoid feelings of hopelessness and despair, or wanting to distance from other white people. I can notice these behaviors, take a break, do some somatic work, and come back to the conversation more able to be present. Conversations are much more productive as a result!

~Fania E. Davis, JD, PhD, Executive Director, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Oakland, CA

In the work we do, particularly the work in schools dealing with crises and conflictual situations, learning and practicing specific techniques for soothing and re-centering ourselves when we or others are triggered is of invaluable assistance. We got a lot out of your Organizational Sustainability and Self-care workshop and hope to have you back to continue!