What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy (also called Somatic Experiencing) is a therapeutic approach that treats both the mind and the body. It combines traditional talk therapy with mind-body exercises to treat a wide array of mental health concerns, trauma symptoms, and other physical symptoms.
How Somatic Therapy works
Somatic Psychology theorizes that the mind and the body are connected and problems with one can be reflected in the other.
The goal of somatic therapy is to tap into the mind-body connection, particularly by working with your body’s nervous system and physical sensations to release any stress, trauma, negative emotions, or tension that might be impacting your physical or emotional well-being.
Key Concepts in Somatic Therapy
Specific mind-body exercises are used in the somatic approach. Some examples include:
Body awareness involves finding areas in your body that feel tense or stuck and bringing them into your conscious awareness so you can work on releasing the tension.
Grounding exercises are tools meant to help bring you back to your body and to feelings of calmness when you are feeling overwhelmed or have strong negative emotions.
Pendulation is a process where you will be asked to think of the source of your stress, trauma, or discomfort to initiate feelings of distress before your therapist guides you back to a calm state. This might be repeated several times.
Titration is a process that often accompanies pendulation. When your therapist asks you to think of the source of your stress, trauma, or discomfort to initiate feelings of distress they will ask you to focus on the bodily sensations you are feeling and then help you work to release the tension and negative feelings.
The goal of titration is to bring you to low levels of distress gradually so that you can slowly release tension without feeling too overwhelmed.
Sequencing is used during moments of physical or emotional release. The therapist will ask you to pay close attention to the symptoms you are feeling and in what order they appear. This is intended to strengthen body awareness.
Resourcing involves planning ways to feel safer and more secure, using internal or external resources. These could be things like a person, an animal, an object, a place, or an activity.
Some additional methods used:
- Breathing exercises
- Gentle touch to calm oneself
Concerns treated with Somatic Psychotherapy
- Chronic pain
- Physical pain
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Traumatic experiences or traumatic memories
- Digestive disorders
- Intimacy issues
How to Prepare for Your Sessions
In preparing for your session, keep an open mind and think of your goals or what you´d like to accomplish from your therapy sessions. Somatic therapy is different and might be an emotional experience and use bodywork that is unfamiliar to you.
Do not hesitate to communicate with your therapist if there is anything you would like them to explain beforehand or if there is anything you are not comfortable with.