You aren’t just a head or a body. But when you’ve experienced trauma, it may feel like you’re living in a fog, as though you are just one or the other. Somatic therapy can help you become more aware of what’s happening in your mind and body to heal more thoroughly.
What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes the mind-body connection. Somatic therapists combine talk therapy with alternative forms of physical therapy. It’s a body-centric approach, aiming to release how the physical body holds onto stress, tension, and trauma.
Various somatic therapy types incorporate the mind-body connection. They may include encouraging patients to develop more awareness of their bodies and sensations, learning to calm themselves, and mastering emotional release. Specific exercises, like dance, yoga, and Pilates, can be considered somatic. The key is to focus on your inner experience as you move and expand your internal awareness.
Types of Somatic Therapy
There are many types of somatic experiential therapy with slight variations. Practitioners often incorporate breathwork, massage, or eye positioning into sessions to support their patients on their healing journeys.
Experiential therapies include:
- Motivational interviewing
- Equine Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Adventure Therapy
- Yoga Therapy
Who Benefits from Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy is effective for numerous psychiatric and physical issues. This type of therapy also works well when mixed with other approaches to treat a person entirely.
Experiential somatic therapy benefits people who experience:
- Physical Trauma. Experiencing a physically traumatic event such as a car accident or brain injury can cause physical, emotional, and psychological distress. This therapy can help the nervous system return to its healthy place of resilience and equilibrium.
- Emotional Trauma. The body stores trauma. By allowing you to access your body, you can express and explore feelings of anger, guilt, or shame.
- Addiction. People feel the symptoms of addiction all over the body. By releasing the tension created by the impulses to seek substances or certain behaviors, people can learn to overcome cravings.
- Anxiety. People with anxiety can feel it everywhere. Their shoulders tense, their heart rate rises, and they may hyperventilate. This therapy helps them access where those responses originate and learn how to calm them.
- Grief. People can recover from grief by understanding where they store those feelings in their bodies and releasing them.
- Abuse. Those who experience emotional and physical abuse often feel sadness, guilt, and anger. Somatic therapy can help you work through these thoughts and emotions and address related relational issues.
What are the Benefits of Somatic Therapy?
The benefits of somatic therapy can go beyond those you may receive from a straight talk-therapy program. Sometimes it can feel unhelpful and triggering to talk about past trauma. Movement can be a way to tell a story without words. It can help you gain awareness of sensations in your body and reduce symptoms while working through old wounds.
This type of therapy encourages you to think more positively. Your mind is powerful. Like your body, it’s a creature of habit. When you experience trauma, your brain and body become wired for survival. It can be exhausting when the fight-or-flight response becomes the program you’re running on.
Somatic therapy can help rewire the brain’s neural pathways. It gets you out of survival mode and into a conscious state of emotional balance. It can help you take back your life from negative thoughts, feelings, and patterns.
You will learn how to listen to what your body is telling you. Like many people, you may be living in a state of “autopilot.” You’re disconnected from your body. You likely don’t pay attention to the messages your body tells you. You may even actively ignore them in the name of productivity. When you pause to listen to your body, you can gain insight into the thoughts, feelings, habits, and behaviors that shape your relationship with yourself and others.
You can be more aware of your emotions. Sometimes the aches and pains are messages from your body that you’re experiencing an injury or illness. Other times, it may be a sign of unprocessed emotions coming to the surface. Increasing awareness of your posture and movements may help you make specific changes in your body.
It will give you the tools you need to overcome your recovery setbacks. The skills you will learn in therapy won’t just benefit you now. They will help your future self by increasing resiliency. You will be in a better state to work through challenges that come your way.
Pendulation is one of the techniques used in somatic therapy. It’s a structured way of moving from a state of stress to calm. It helps you learn what your body feels like in different states and how to bring your body back to a calm state. Learning this technique can give you the confidence to move forward fearlessly because you can handle what life throws at you.
Your self-talk profoundly influences how you feel – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This therapy isn’t just about recognizing the way you’re feeling. It’s about letting go of judgmental thoughts we have about yourself.
Somatic experiencing therapy isn’t about ignoring uncomfortable sensations. It’s about permitting yourself to approach your bodily sensations in a non-judgemental way. Instead of assigning what you’re feeling as “good” or “bad,” you’ll observe what you can learn from your body when you approach it with curiosity.
Somatic Therapy at Integrative Life Center
At Integrative Life Center, some of our most successful therapeutic techniques rely on movement. We incorporate foundational concepts of somatic therapy into our work to help you become the best version of yourself in mind, body, and spirit. Our therapists’ techniques allow us to learn how you respond to stressful situations. This knowledge, in turn, helps to better support you in overcoming your responses.
Contact ILC if you’re ready to learn more. This therapy may be the missing link in your recovery.