• Homer newcomer has a heart for helping the community
By Christina Whiting
When Bob Bornt moved to Homer last June, he was immediately impressed with how open and sincere people were with him.
“Everyone I met was available, communicative, looked into my eyes and said hello,” he said. “I felt a sense of community right away.”
Taken by this friendliness and desire to help others, Bornt has been eager to share his work as a clinical psychotherapist who specializes in trauma triage.
“I respect all living things and I have an intrinsic belief that plants, people and animals are all one living system,” Bornt said. “We have to be very attentive to that in order to be healthy. When there are disruptions to this living system, we end up with things like violence and addictive behaviors.”
Bornt practices a mode of psychotherapy that promotes individual and family productivity through mindful self-direction of personal well-being. His work is deeply influenced by that of Ron Kurtz, who created the Hakomi method of mind-body psychotherapy. Bornt describes his own therapeutic style as being holistic, with a preference for non-violence.
“At the core, I believe in a body-centered approach to healing and behavioral change,” he said. “The mind can know, but the body feels and reacts — especially under greater stress.”
Bornt believes that, under stress or life threat, the body’s survival regulating systems organize around survival and can get stuck in a groove of repetitive behavior. His work as a therapist is to set up an environment where individuals learn to adapt to their own impulses and manage their emotions to create a greater sense of well-being.
Bornt utilizes functional activities within his therapeutic structure. He believes healing and change happen when there is attention to what he refers to as, “the consciousness or mind of the heart; when people learn to operate from the heart and not the brain.”
“Heart consciousness is like that of looking at a newborn, when there is no judgment and only the presence of love,” Bornt said. “It is when you are facing a Marine in a PTSD healing session, and seeing the love behind the rage, sadness and flashback to an impulse to kill. Heart consciousness is being able to connect at the heart level.”
In 2011, Bornt worked with Indian Health Services in Dillingham and Toksook Bay as a clinical psychotherapist specializing in trauma triage. This May, he bought the Homer Cleaning Center located on Main Street, and he and a group of volunteers have been working to transform the 40-by-90-by-14-foot concrete building into a therapeutic center.
Bornt is creating a variety of short-term residential structures that he is calling “The Lodge.” The Lodge will be an area where community members and tourists can rent small spaces on a short-term basis that will serve as bedrooms, sleeping lofts and lockers.
Bornt is dedicating the remainder of the building’s space to a therapeutic center he is calling Family Resiliency Centers of Alaska. Bornt’s goal for this space is for community members to be able to participate as teachers and students in workshops and classes, including jewelry-making, pottery, painting and more. The idea is that these activities will provide therapeutic value to help build validation and worth.
“This will be a place for people to experience the foundation of improved well-being: self-esteem, diet, exercise and productivity,” Bornt said.
He also plans to build small cabins near the main building that will be used as short-term residential stays for individuals participating in an ongoing therapeutic process of recovery.
Knowing there are numerous mental health and behavioral change services already available in Homer, Bornt will hold community meetings later this summer to get input and generate interest in mental health collaboration. He has already met with local organizations and groups who have expressed an interest in his work, including the Homer United Methodist Church, Model Approach to Partnership Parenting, Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and South Peninsula Hospital.
Bornt plans to open Family Resiliency Centers of Alaska by Sept. 1. The lodge will be run as a for-profit business, while the center will be managed as a nonprofit. This will allow him to seek funding at both state and local levels.
Bornt is currently seeking board members for the Family Resiliency Center, as well as volunteers to help with the ongoing renovations. He is in need of refrigerators, freezers and general building material. Eventually, he hopes to hire more therapists to work alongside him.
At the core of his therapeutic approach, Bornt is committed to helping community members become more active and productive as a means toward self-care.
“I want to make things better for people who are striving to create a better life experience and who are willing to reach out to others,” he said. “I want to offer more than just sitting in a little square room once a week.”
For more information, contact Bornt at (907) 843-2661, firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by and meet him in person at 3684 Main Street, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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