Somatic therapies, including somatic experiencing, sensorimotor psychotherapy and body-centered therapies, are therapeutic approaches that focus on the mind-body connection and the ways in which physical sensations, emotions, and traumatic experiences are interconnected. The term "somatic" refers to the body, so somatic therapy places a strong emphasis on the body's role in emotional regulation, healing, and overall well-being.
Somatic therapy works by helping you pay close attention to what your body is telling you. It teaches you to notice physical sensations, like tension or relaxation, and understand how they connect to your emotions and thoughts. With the guidance of a trained therapist, you learn to release physical tension and process stored emotions and trauma in your body, which can lead to healing and a better sense of well-being. It's like listening to your body's wisdom to improve your mental and emotional health.
Who benefits from Somatic Approaches:
Trauma and PTSD
Key principles and concepts of somatic therapy include:
1. Body Awareness: Somatic therapy encourages individuals to become more attuned to their bodily sensations, movements, and postures. Developing awareness of the body can provide valuable insights into emotional states and patterns of tension or relaxation.
2. Trauma and the Nervous System: Somatic therapy recognizes the impact of trauma on the nervous system and how traumatic experiences can become "stuck" in the body. It addresses symptoms of trauma, such as hyperarousal (excessive alertness) and hypoarousal (numbing or dissociation), by promoting regulation of the autonomic nervous system.
3. Release and Healing: Somatic therapy aims to help individuals release and process held physical tension and emotional stress. This can involve techniques to release chronic muscle tension, somatic experiencing exercises, and practices that facilitate the discharge of emotional energy.
4. Mind-Body Connection: It emphasizes the interconnectedness of mental and physical experiences. Changes in the body can influence emotions, and vice versa. By working with the body, somatic therapy helps individuals address emotional and psychological issues.
5. Resourcing: Somatic therapy often involves helping clients identify and access inner and external resources that promote feelings of safety, resilience, and self-regulation. These resources can be used to support the healing process.
6. Grounding: Grounding techniques are used to help individuals stay present in the here and now. These techniques can be especially beneficial for individuals who tend to dissociate or feel overwhelmed by emotions.
7. Breathing and Movement: Somatic therapy may incorporate techniques related to breathwork and movement to help individuals regulate their nervous system, release tension, and access emotions stored in the body.