Somatic Therapy Defined
The word somatic is derived from the Greek word “soma” which means living body. Somatic therapy combines ancient mind-body practices with the latest research in psychology and neurobiology.
The idea is that many of our emotions and memories are stored in the body, especially with trauma. Therefore, in order to access and heal our emotions and memories, we need to work with the body, not just the mind.
Due to cutting-edge research in these areas, somatic psychology is increasing in popularity as it’s efficacy is becoming more well-known and understood.
Psych Central states that, “According to somatic psychologists, our bodies hold on to past traumas which are reflected in our body language, posture and also expressions. In some cases past traumas may manifest physical symptoms like pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction and immune system dysfunction, medical issues, depression, anxiety and addiction.”
The Goal of Somatic Therapy
The goal of somatic therapy is to utilize the body in releasing stored tensions. Basically, it all comes down to regulation of the nervous system and the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response gets triggered under stress or perceived threat, such as being late, reaching a deadline, or getting cut off in traffic. This occurs DAILY for many people, resulting in chronic stress, anxiety, and depression.
There are many forms of somatic therapy. If you have been in therapy before, you may recognize it. A somatic therapist will often ask a client, “where do you notice that in your body?”
In my practice, I often focus on breath work and yoga as a way of releasing tension and restoring balance in the nervous system.
Tai chi, qigong, and other forms of mindful movement are equally effective.
By practicing mindfulness through somatic (body-centered) approaches, you are:
- Re-wiring your system toward increased balance
- Creating an internal clarity and calm
- Learning to stay present and keep breathing, even under pressure
- Becoming less reactive.
These skills continue to strengthen with regular practice over time, and can have a significant impact on reducing stress and increasing health in the long-run. This is why many people are turning to somatic psychotherapy as a form of treatment.
I highly recommend trying out some mindful movement (ideally with an experienced practitioner) as soon as you can.
You can also check out my introductory blog post on the benefits of yoga for mental, emotional, and physical health.
Want to speak with me directly to see if somatic therapy is a good fit for you? I offer a free 15-minute consultation. Click here to schedule one today.