What is Somatic Therapy?
As you may have figured out by now, somatic therapy engages the body in the therapy process and taps into it’s innate intelligence. For example, a practitioner may combine talk therapy with exercises that help you track your sensations. The therapist may also have you experiment with posture and movement. The goal of this “body-mind” approach is to help you achieve long term, long lasting changes. When you experience shifts at the body level, you will also notice changes in how you feel and how you perceive situations in the present. Some conditions commonly treated with somatic therapy include:
- Trauma resolution
- Abuse (physical, emotional and sexual)
- Relationship issues
Somatic therapy also can help alleviate the inevitable physical concerns (sleep disorders, digestive problems, chronic pain, etc.) that are linked to the above conditions.
How Does Somatic Therapy Work?
Somatic therapy helps put us in touch with the feelings, sensations and experiences involved in our problems and our personal histories. For example, in the case of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the painful event is typically “held” in our bodies. This means the trauma has not been fully processed and therefore, we can and will continue to re-experience aspects of it.
Mammals in the wild live in a constant state of life-and-death threat. Yet, they not only notice and react to trauma but they also experience and release it. Somatic therapy is designed to help human mammals also reach such resolution—not just for trauma but also for depression and other conditions. We learn to recognize and describe our body sensations. By noticing changes in our posture or movement, we empower ourselves towards emotional regulation.
5 Common Somatic Therapy Techniques
As the name implies, grounding exercises connect us more fully to our body and connect our body more fully to the ground. We focus on how the weight of our body is being supported. We also focus on the connection between our five senses. As a result, being more grounded helps us feel that
- we have a clear physical location
- we feel supported
- what is supporting us is both strong and stable
- we are in the present moment, not reliving a past event
These four components put us in a safer and calmer mindset. We find it easier to focus and problem-solve.
When we’re dealing with trauma, we experience body sensations. Unless we track those sensations, we can’t learn from them. In somatic therapy, tracking involves closely and deeply understanding our reactions and thus supplying our brain with more information. This, in turn, enables the brain to allocate more resources to recovery and resolution.
When we slow down our emotional and/or physiological responses to a super slow pace, it’s called “titration.” When we do this we can stay conscious of all that is happening in our bodies and minds rather than going unconscious. It’s tough to own our emotions and set boundaries if we don’t have time to process.
4. Emotional Regulation
Stress, anxiety, trauma, abuse, and depression create an emotional imbalance. Putting ourselves in deeper touch with our feelings and our body sensations counters this imbalance. We are able to regulate and from there, recover.
5. Creating Boundaries
Somatic therapy helps us be more mindful when making decisions. In that present moment, it’s far easier to establish and enforce necessary boundaries.
Want to Learn More About Whether Somatic Therapy Can Help You?
An excellent first step towards healing and resolution is contacting someone who is trained and experienced in using somatic therapies. For the past 16 years, I have used a holistic, experiential approach to working with my clients. This includes accessing the body’s wisdom and innate power to heal. If you are interested in finding out whether this type of therapy can help you deal with trauma, anxiety, depression, abuse or relationship issues, contact me today to set up your free 30-minute consultation.