What is somatic psychotherapy?
Somatic psychotherapy or somatic therapy is a holistic therapeutic approach, incorporating a person’s mind, body, spirit, and emotions in the healing process. This type of therapy asserts that a person’s thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs have an impact on physical functioning, while physical factors such as diet, exercise, and posture may positively or negatively affect a person’s mental and emotional state. Thus, those seeking therapy for any number of mental health concerns may find that incorporating somatic therapy into their treatment to be highly beneficial.
A modality grounded in the mind-body connection, somatic therapists view the mind and body as one entity, and that this focus is essential to the therapeutic process. Given a safe environment and respectful interpersonal interactions, healing and growth is made possible through improved regulation of the mind/body.
According to somatic therapy theory, the sensations associated with past trauma may become trapped within the body and manifest in our actions, posture, muscular pain, or other issues in the body. Talk therapy can help address this trauma, but depending on the client, therapeutic body techniques can supplement more conventional approaches to provide holistic healing.
How does somatic therapy work?
Somatic psychotherapists are. Because past trauma or other emotional concerns may potentially have a negative effect on a person’s autonomic nervous system, people experiencing emotional and psychological issues may also be affected by physical concerns such as sexual dysfunction, hormonal issues, digestive issues, or tension in specific parts of the body such as the head, neck, shoulders, or stomach. Somatic psychotherapists can help individuals become more aware of their own bodily sensations and learn to use therapeutic techniques to release any tension the body is holding. Techniques often used in therapy include breathing exercise and sensation awareness, physical exercise such as dance or other movement, voice work, massage, and grounding exercises. During the session, you may be encouraged to reflect on patterns of behavior and identify any impact these patterns may have on any new emotions, experiences, or concerns that come up in therapy.
What issues are treated with somatic psychotherapy?
Somatic therapy may help people experience greater self-awareness and connection to others. Participants may feel more grounded in their own bodies, experience reduced stress, and be more able to explore emotional and physical concerns with others. The use of body-oriented psychotherapies as part of an integrated approach to the treatment of posttraumatic stress (PTSD) is becoming more prevalent, and many experts claim it may even be essential in trauma treatment.
Somatic psychotherapy can help individuals address a range of issues. Some may choose to seek somatic therapy as part of their approach to treatment in order to improve emotional regulation, address relationship concerns, decrease symptoms of anxiety or depression, and increase self-confidence. Somatic psychotherapy has also been helpful in treating grief, stress, and addiction. With an emphasis on grounding and mindfulness, somatic therapy can be an effective option for anyone looking to get more in touch with themselves and their experiences in life. Additionally, somatic therapy has also shown to provide relief for the following physical conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Digestive disorders
- Sexual dysfunction
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
What can I expect from a somatic psychotherapy session?
Somatic psychotherapy sessions are typically focused on achieving awareness and release of the physical aspects associated with past trauma or uncomfortable feelings. The therapist helps you to track and explore your bodily experience and sensations as they arise throughout the session. Your therapist might help guide you through memories associated with elements of your past, observing and increasing awareness of how your body reacts. To help release these physical effects , sessions are likely to involve your active participation in activities, such as:
- Breathing exercises
- Physical exercises
- With your permission, touch
- Voice work
In order for this type of treatment to be effective, both the therapist and the person in treatment must consent to touch and possess the capacity to learn how to develop their own bodily awareness. Learning these techniques helps to release tension in the body. The release achieved through this work has shown to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing and an overall improvement with interpersonal relationships.
If you would like to learn more about how somatic psychotherapy can help you or you would like to schedule your free phone consultation, contact us today!