top of page

Frequently Asked Questions









8:00a - 12:00p

8:00a - 11:00a

8:00a - 1:00p

8:00a - 12:00p

8:00a - 11:00a

12:30p - 5:00p

12:30p - 5:00p

The Basics

What are your hours?


If none of these times suit you please let me know. I'm sure we can work something out.

Where are you located?


3052B Berkmar Drive, Charlottesville, Virginia.  In the Village Offices complex across from the fire station.

Do you offer a free initial session or "meet and greet"?


Yes, I offer a free 30 minute "meet and greet" session, in person or on the phone.


You can use this time to do any of the following:

  • Get a better sense of who I am

  • Get answers to your questions

  • See my office

  • Learn more about the techniques I use 

  • Learn more about what an appointment might be like

  • Experience a brief demo of what I do

Please call 434-806-3165 or email me at to schedule this free session.


How do I schedule an appointment?


What do you charge?

  • 60 minutes (typical session length)    $65.00

  • 75 minutes                                            $80.00

  • 90 minutes                                            $95.00



What types of payment do you accept?

Cash and personal checks.


Do you take insurance?


No, I'm sorry, I don't.

What methods do you use?



What is vagal system support?


The vagal nerve is an amazing part of the nervous system with many branches that run from the brain to the neck, face, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, GI tract and to other organs. In the head, face and neck area it connects with many of the sensory and muscle systems that play a role in infant-caregiver attachment—and in relationships throughout our lives. This group of vagal nerves is called the social nervous system.


Vagal system support utilizes light touch to help reorient the body from the fight-flight-freeze-appease responses to stress and trauma, to a place of calm and ease.


Note that vagal system support is very different from electrical vagus nerve stimulation.

Read more about vagal system support here.

What is cranial-sacral therapy?


Cranial-sacral therapy is grounded in awareness of the movement of fluids up and down the spinal cord and around the brain. These subtle “tides” and the energy associated with them influence and are influenced by all other systems in our bodies.


Using gentle touch and from a place of quiet sensitivity, one can sense and support the free flow of these natural tides, which can lead to a deeper sense of peace, strength and to a release of old pain, both physical and emotional.

Read more about cranial-sacral therapy here.


What the heck is zapchen? 

Zapchen is a collection of simple and often playful breath, sound and movement techniques, aimed at helping you “feel as good as you can in spite of everything.”


It has its roots in a fertile mix of Tibetan Buddhist practice and Western somatic psychology.

Read more about zapchan here.



Do you use multiple treatment types during a session?

Yes, quite frequently. Zapchen, vagal system support and cranial-sacral therapy are all unique, each having evolved from different roots. However, rather than being separate and unrelated, they are in an ultimate sense interwoven and reciprocal. And, as with the various systems in our bodies, they function like intertwined threads of a tapestry. So I often flow from one to another, pretty much seamlessly.

What is an appointment like?


How long does an appointment last?


Regular sessions last for a full 60 minutes. You can schedule 75 or 90 minute sessions as well.


Do I keep my clothes on?

Yes, most definitely, though generally people take off their shoes. With some techniques it can be helpful to have hands directly on the skin but that is not required.


Will it hurt?

It should not hurt! If you feel uncomfortable or you hurt anywhere during a session please tell me. I do my best to listen to your body and to work within a framework of comfort and safety but, unfortunately, I am not perfect. A session is like a dance, with input from you and from me, but you always have the final word.

This work is very gentle, but as with other types of body and/or energy work, sometimes you might feel a small amount of discomfort afterwards (mild headache or body aches, or some emotional shifting due to a release of feelings that have been held in the body). These should resolve within a day or two. If they do not, or if you are concerned, please let me know. I make it a priority to avoid any re-traumatizing, or the forcing of anything, physical or emotional.  Providing a sense of safety is one of my central priorities. See "What Is Titration?" below for more on this.


What happens during a session?


Perhaps the most important answer to that question is that no two sessions will be alike, since we adjust what we do based on your current—and changing—needs, and your input, which is crucial.

That said, here are a few basics.


Setting your intention: After we chat and catch up a bit, I will ask you to share your intention for the session. Very simply that means, for  you to decide and say what do you want from the session. What would you—realistically—like to walk away with? Examples: “I want to feel calmer.” OR "I want to trust myself more" OR “I would like to understand a little better why I reacted so strongly to my boss the other day.”  OR "My stomach has been bothering me some; I'd like to feel better."Setting an intention can really help you understand what it is you want in the moment, and can help both of us focus on doing what can best help bring that about.

Going s-l-o-w-l-y: The mind usually moves much faster than the body but the deepest healing comes when mind and body are in harmony.  If we can help your mind slow down, your body will speak. Then we can help your mind, brain and body build kinder pathways into healing.

Pausing: Pausing is part of going slowly, an opportunity to rest and/or “unpack” what you are feeling, physically and emotionally, bit by bit. Either one of us can ask for a pause. I might suggest a pause if you have just shared something intense, if I feel that you need a break, if it seems that your mind is moving too fast for your body, or that you are skipping over something important.


If as a child (or adult) you have been silenced, not listened to or not respected, my requesting a pause could connect back to those experiences in a painful way. Please let me know if this happens—or let me know ahead of time if you know this is an issue. We can walk through this together.

We’re not going for intensity or digging up memories, although sometimes those things happen. The aim is for you to have an increased sense of support, ease and safety, internally and externally. It is amazing how hard it can be just to allow ourselves to feel okay, and maybe even good.   

If emotions or images or memories do come up, I will listen and simply be with you in a supportive manner. I may suggest some movement, sound or words, or a change in what I am doing that may help you shift through the difficulty into a place of more ease or resilience.


Possible scenarios

  • We do a "typical" session during which you lie on a softly padded massage table and I use various cranial-sacral or vagal system techniques, with the lead coming from your body and/or your verbal requests.

  • We sit in the chairs talking, sharing silence, doing a mindfulness meditation, etc. for part or all of the session.

  • I teach you some zapchen techniques, which could include some dancing, or humming or something more specific like horselips.

  • We could sit on the floor, well-cushioned, and experiment with sitting back against back, or you/we could set up a protective "fort"--or any number of things.

  • After other activities you could take a short nap—this is a prime zapchen activity (or "non-activity" to be more accurate), especially after doing a lot of anything else, like learning something new, or being silent, or talking.

  • Or any combination of the above. And many other possibilities.

What is "titration" and how does it relate to what you do?

Do you remember "titration" from your high school chemistry class? It involved the very slow--sometimes drop by drop--addition of one material—often a liquid—to another to create a new substance. One uses the slow process of titration if mixing two or more chemicals together too quickly might result in a volatile reaction--like an explosion!

In the context of my training and practice, titration basically means s-l-o-w-i-n-g down. Allowing ease. Going gently. Drop by drop.


A basic tenet of the philosophical and physiological frameworks I work in is that not only can you can heal without re-traumatizing but that, in fact, healing moves along better without re-traumatization. How does that work in practice? Sometimes cranial-sacral or vagus work can bring up memories or emotions. If this happens during  a session and you end up getting "activated" emotionally (e.g., anxious, afraid, stressed), I may suggest any number of things to help you titrate that emotion or memory and get back to feeling some balance and resource: I might remind you to breathe and/or to slow down your words if you are talking, to become aware of where you are feeling the emotion in your body, or suggest a particular zapchen exercise, or use a vagus system or cranial-sacral technique. "It's amazing how much how little will do" (Hugh Milne). That's titration. Check out my blog post on titration


Digging a Little Deeper


Why do you do this work? What do you get out of it?

The short answer is—I really love doing it. The longer answer? Because of my own long and sometimes difficult life journey, I feel compassion for people who struggle with self-esteem and with feeling safe and welcome in the world. Given my background as a maternity nurse, my training with Janet Evergreen and others, a deep sense of spirituality, and natural gifts of intuition, creativity and wonder, this work seems to be a natural fit. And what honor it is to serve the amazing women who come to me as clients.

Do you have any references/testimonials?


Yes, here are a few:


“Thank you so much for showing me horse lips [a zapchen technique]. It helps me relax and not worry so much. And to laugh. You’ve been so helpful to my daughter too. I’m so glad you’re doing this!”

L. E., Graphic designer/mother/grandmother


“I feel much more grounded after a session with you. It really helps calm me down.”

C.N.W., Nurse


“I have trouble feeling safe with people but I know I can trust you--that’s so important to me.”

R.S., Accountant


"Dawn truly knows how to listen--to my words, to my body, even to my soul, it seems. She has been supporting me as I learn how to take better care of myself."

E.B., Artist


Why do you call it Blue Heron Wellness?

I have always loved blue herons; they are large, beautiful and mysterious birds. And so graceful.


I am inspired by the way a blue heron can wade into the water, and then wait—with deep stillness—for just the right moment to move. Deep and living stillness…a key component of my work. Sensing into it and practicing it myself. Supporting you as you allow it to grow within. And moving with sureness when it is necessary.


On the other hand, sometimes they can be gawky or almost comical, releasing a funny, harsh C-R-O-A-K sound when they are disturbed. Which I can also relate to. :^)

Did you paint the blue heron picture?



Where do you get your photos?

My husband and I took a few of the photos, but most of them come from unSplash, a wonderful source of free and, as you can see, beautiful photographs. I deeply appreciate both the artistry and the generosity of these photographers. All photographers who post photos to unSplash allow those photos to be shared under a Creative Commons zero license. "This allows individuals to freely reuse, repurpose and remix photos for their own projects.”



I wish I could say yes. It is by Roderick MacIver, a master water colorist. Isn’t it beautiful?


His name for this painting is “Heron Marsh” and it has everything I want for the symbol of my practice: beauty, mystery and serenity, grounding in natural and spiritual realms, combined with activity and expectation. And I love the colors. He charged me a very reasonable rate for the right to use the image.


Thank you, Rod! 

The Basics
Will it hurt?
Meet & Greet
How long?
Clothes on?
What happens?
Why Blue Heron
bottom of page