The integration of the mind, body, and spirit into therapeutic and healing work is at the heart of somatic therapy, which also goes by the names of somatic experience and somatic experience therapy. The goal of somatic therapy is to treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and emotional health conditions by focusing on the link that exists between the mind and the body and taking an approach that is body-centric.
Somatic therapy, in contrast to more traditional forms of mental health counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which places a greater emphasis on the patient’s thought processes, encourages patients to engage in mind-body practices such as meditation, dance, and breathing exercises. In addition, sessions of somatic experience therapy incorporate conversation therapy as well as exercises that focus on the connection between the mind and the body.
In addition to addressing issues verbally, the goal of this type of treatment is to assist in the release of the ways in which the physical body holds on to stress, tension, and traumatic experiences.
What Somatic Therapy Can Help With
As an alternative to traditional talk therapy, somatic therapy is something that may be tried by everyone. It is employed in the treatment of a wide range of mental and physical health problems.
The following are examples of conditions that can be treated with somatic therapy:
Somatic therapy may be helpful with the following in a physical sense:
- Continuous grief
- Digestive disorders
- Sexual impotence or dysfunction.
This type of therapy can be an excellent alternative for anyone who is interested in being more in touch with themselves as well as the experiences they have had in their life due to the emphasis that it places on grounding and mindfulness.
How Does it Work?
Traditional talk therapy is combined with grounding exercises and mindfulness practices in somatic therapy. These exercises are aimed to help us disconnect from our thoughts and become more present in our bodies. A person will be assisted by their therapist to concentrate on their problems and pay attention to any physical experiences that occur after these problems are brought to the surface throughout the course of a session.
At this stage, several methods, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, intense mindfulness, and meditation, may be utilized to assist in the alleviation of any symptoms that are now being experienced.
It is possible to release long-held anger, stress, aggravation, and other unpleasant emotions that may have become trapped in the physical body by working with a person over the course of numerous sessions. This allows the person to begin to create a mind-body connection.
The primary objective of a somatic therapist is to assist his or her patients in overcoming the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical suffering that is keeping them from participating fully in life.
Where Exactly Does Brainspotting Come Into Play Here?
Somatic therapy is an umbrella term that includes brainspotting. During the course of a brainspotting session, we are going to investigate how specific areas of focus influence the way you physically feel in your body. Your therapist will periodically check in with your physical sensations and ask you to rate them on a scale from one to ten as you go through the brainspotting process. During a session, the majority of persons report that they experience a considerable lessening in the severity of these bodily sensations. These advantages last long after the session is complete, and repeating sessions assist in the development of this talent as well as the general healing process over time.
Various Forms of Somatic Therapy
Listed below are some of the most widespread applications of somatic therapy.
#1. Somatic Experience
The physical reactions to trauma can be treated using a method called somatic experience.
While some somatic therapists would urge you to talk about your traumatic experiences, others might merely inquire about the bodily feelings you experienced during the terrible incident. It’s possible that someone will ask you to move your body in a way that brings up unpleasant emotions.
Your therapist will instruct you on how to release the pent-up energy in a healthy manner, allowing you to progressively free yourself from the triggering event.
During EMDR treatment, the client recalls traumatic events in small doses while concurrently focusing on external stimuli. Sideways eye movements are the most prevalent type of stimulus used in this therapy. Tapping one’s hand or listening to a certain sound are two examples of potential additional focal areas.
Hakomi is a form of somatic treatment that focuses on mindfulness, which is defined as the ability to pay attention to the here and now without passing judgment on it.
The practitioner will begin by creating an environment of loving acceptance for the client and then assist the client in recognizing physical markers that are associated with unconscious beliefs. The client swiftly accesses the material that is stored in their unconscious, and they collaborate with the therapist to release it in a secure manner.
#3. Psychotherapy Based on Sensorimotor Processes
Combining psychotherapy, somatic therapy, attachment theory, and neuroscience with approaches from the Hakomi method, sensorimotor psychotherapy is an integrative approach to mental health treatment.
This therapy guides the patient through a controlled re-experience of a traumatic incident, after which the patient completes any acts that were left undone from the original event (such as being unable to fight off an attacker). This is done in order to give the impression that everything has been wrapped up and resolved.
#4. Neurosomatic Techniques
Clients who experience symptoms that are found closer to the physical end of the mind-body continuum can benefit from neurosomatic treatment. The hidden causes of tension and somatic pain in the neurological system, skeletal system, and soft tissues can be uncovered by neurosomatic therapy (NST).
Massage, work on one’s posture, and exercises designed to address imbalances are the primary treatments utilized in this approach.
Concepts Essential to Somatic Therapy
In the course of treatment, somatic therapy intends to make use of the patient’s own body as a method of intervention and rely on the fundamental capabilities of the nervous system. The following are some of the fundamental ideas that are included in somatic psychology, the theoretical foundation upon which somatic treatment is built.
The ability of a person to perceive oneself as embodied in the present moment is referred to as grounding, and it is a strategy that is centered on the body. This somatic technique calls for a person to become aware of their physical form, to engage their senses, to sense the ground beneath their feet, and finally to quiet down their nervous system.
Developing clear boundaries requires an individual to maintain their attention on the here and now, cultivate the ability to remain attentive to their ever-shifting requirements, and focus on the current moment. It enables one to respond in a way that makes them feel powerful and safeguarded.
The purpose of self-regulation is to create an awareness of bodily sensations, with the intent to regulate (or respond appropriately to) emotional intensity. This goal emphasizes the significance of staying consciously connected to the body amid intense emotions or sensations.
Continuity of Action and Procedure
The ability of an individual to heal themselves by attending to their physical sensations is the focus of somatic therapies. It is possible to gain insight into a person’s experience by observing their posture, gestures, and use of space. In somatic therapy, patients are taught to deliberately interact with their impulses in order to find a resolution.
When tension begins to ease, the body may experience a wave of emotion that travels throughout the entire system. Either stress will build up in the abdomen, then go to the chest, and finally, settle into stiffness in the throat, or, alternatively, tension will be released through tears, which will result in an increased capacity to breathe freely.
Titration is a somatic method that refers to the process of experiencing little quantities of anguish with the purpose of healing pain from a previous traumatic experience. The word “titration” comes from the word “titrate,” which comes from the Latin word “to titrate,” which means “to Your therapist will keep track of your body’s response and the sensations that are triggered when you gradually begin to think about past traumatic experiences. In addition to monitoring your bodily response, such as changes in your respiration, clenched hands, or changes in the tone of your voice, they will inquire about how you are now feeling.
Are There Limitations to Somatic Therapy?
Even while many people claim to have had success with somatic therapy, there is still very little evidence to support this method based on scientific research. The first randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of this method for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was published in 2017, and it indicated that somatic therapy does have favorable advantages as an option for treating PTSD patients. On the other hand, the study had a few flaws, just like a number of previous studies on PTSD have as well.
In addition to the need for greater study, there are ethical considerations regarding the utilization of touch within the therapeutic process. Some people may feel that the use of physical touch during treatment helps relieve pain and helps release tension, while other people – particularly those who have been affected by trauma and sexual abuse – may be triggered or uncomfortable with the idea of using physical contact during therapy.
Things That Should Be Considered
It is vital to be in a mental and emotional position where you have the time and energy to process complicated feelings before initiating any type of treatment. This is true for all forms of therapy. Touch is frequently incorporated into somatic therapy sessions that are conducted in person. Because of this, you should make sure that you don’t mind getting touched by other people so that you can take advantage of this opportunity.
The concepts of boundaries and consent are extremely important when it comes to contact, and you will never be touched without your permission.
It is generally agreed that somatic treatment does not have any dangers that are particularly attributable to its delivery method.
Where to Begin and How to Do It
If you are thinking about giving somatic therapy a shot, the following guidelines can help you get started.
Find a Counselor
Finding a therapist in your neighborhood is the first thing you need to do if you want to participate in somatic therapy. It is possible that you will need to hunt for a telehealth practitioner depending on whether you want to see someone in person or online. Include your location in a search engine field along with your query if you are interested in having a hands-on experience in person so that you can reap the benefits of touch-based therapies. This will help you find local businesses that can meet your needs.
There are sufficient numbers of practitioners of somatic therapy for there to be at least one in most of the country’s main cities. If you are looking for a virtual therapist, you should look online to ensure that the one you are considering has a good reputation among past clients.
Because somatic therapy is seen as an alternative kind of therapy, the majority of somatic therapists do not collaborate directly with health insurance companies. This is an important fact to keep in mind. Many of them are qualified marriage and family therapists (MFTs), psychologists, or other licensed therapists, and they might be able to give you a superbill that you can then hand over to your insurance company in order to be reimbursed for your services.
Get Yourself Ready for the First Appointment!
Before you go to your first visit, take some time to think about your mental and physical objectives, as well as what you hope to achieve via the therapy. Be aware that you may bring up terrible memories from the past, just like you would with any other type of treatment. These are helpful points to discuss with your therapist after they have been distilled.
Prepare yourself for the possibility that the person you are visiting in person will perform healing work on you by touching you. During the initial session, whether it be in-person or online, your somatic therapist will ask you questions about your background and the things you hope to accomplish in therapy. You and your partner are going to collaborate in order to choose how the therapy will be conducted and how it will ultimately look. The fact that you feel at ease with the therapist is the single most important factor.
Somatic therapy, like other types of treatment, can be emotionally taxing and requires a lengthy process. Nonetheless, many people report experiencing a more profound level of healing as a result of participating in somatic therapy than they could have through other types of therapy.
Somatic Therapy FAQs
What happens in a somatic therapy session?
Sessions of somatic psychotherapy often center on attaining an awareness of and a release from the physical components linked with previous traumatic experiences. During the course of the session, the therapist will provide assistance to you in cataloging and investigating the sensations and experiences that occur in your body.
Is somatic therapy legitimate?
It has been demonstrated through empirical research that SE® can be an effective treatment for the treatment of trauma. Randomized controlled trials, also known as RCTs, are frequently put to use to evaluate the efficacy of potential treatments before introducing them to larger populations. RCTs are generally regarded as the research industry’s “gold standard.”
Is EMDR somatic therapy?
Somatic therapies such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and somatic experiencing are relatively recent innovations in the development of alternatives to more traditional therapy for trauma. These therapies focus on the body and its experiences.