Psychological trauma can have a profound and lasting impact on a person’s mental and physical health. It can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and disconnected from their bodies. Traditional talk therapy can help process trauma, but it doesn’t always address the physical aspect of trauma stored in the body. That’s where somatic therapy comes in.
Somatic therapy is a holistic approach to healing that focuses on the connection between the mind and body. It’s based on the idea that trauma is not just a mental experience but a physical one as well. By working with the body, somatic therapists can help patients to access and release stored trauma, allowing them to heal and recover.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of psychological trauma and the role somatic therapy can play in helping patients overcome it. We’ll look at how somatic therapy works, its benefits, and the types of patients who can benefit from it. Ultimately, our thesis is that somatic therapy is a powerful tool that can help patients suffering from psychological trauma to heal and recover.
What is somatic therapy?
Somatic therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the connection between the mind and body. It’s based on the idea that our bodies store emotional and psychological experiences and that we can promote healing and recovery by addressing these experiences through the body.
Somatic therapy has its roots in various traditions, including psychodynamic psychotherapy, bodywork, and mindfulness practices. It’s been developed and refined by pioneers such as Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen, and Peter Levine over the years.
There are several types of somatic therapy, each with its unique approach and techniques. Some of the most common types of somatic therapy include:
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: This therapy focuses on helping patients become more aware of their physical sensations and emotions. It uses mindfulness, body-centred interventions, and cognitive-behavioural techniques to help patients process traumatic experiences and develop new ways of relating to their bodies.
- Somatic Experiencing: Developed by Peter Levine, this type of therapy focuses on releasing traumatic energy from the body through awareness of bodily sensations and the completion of defensive actions that were not completed during the traumatic event.
- Hakomi: This type of therapy combines mindfulness, body awareness, and psychotherapy to help patients explore and understand the unconscious beliefs and patterns that contribute to their emotional and psychological struggles.
- Biodynamic Psychotherapy: This type of therapy emphasizes the connection between the body, mind, and spirit. It uses touch, movement, and other techniques to promote healing and balance in the body.
Across-the-board, somatic therapy is a flexible and versatile approach to healing that can be adapted to meet each patient’s unique needs. Its focus on the mind-body connection can help patients to access and process trauma in a way that traditional talk therapy may not be able to.
How somatic therapy works
Trauma can profoundly impact the body, leading to a range of physical and emotional symptoms. When the body experiences trauma, it goes into a state of fight, flight, or freeze, which can cause the muscles to tense up, the heart rate to increase, and the breathing to become shallow. Over time, these physical responses can become chronic, leading to chronic pain, tension, and other physical symptoms.
Somatic therapy works by helping patients to access and release stored trauma in the body. By using various techniques, somatic therapists can help patients connect with their bodily sensations and emotions and process the trauma in a safe and effective way.
The therapist’s role in somatic therapy is to create a safe and supportive environment for the patient. The therapist will work with the patient to identify and explore the physical and emotional sensations associated with the trauma and to help the patient develop new coping strategies and ways of relating to their body.
Some of the techniques used in somatic therapy include:
- Breathwork involves using the breath to connect with the body and release tension. The therapist may guide the patient in specific breathing exercises to help them access and release stored trauma.
- Movement: This involves movement to help the patient connect with their body and release tension. The therapist may guide the patient in specific exercises or encourage them to move in a natural and expressive way.
- Touch involves using touch to help the patient connect with their body and release tension. The therapist may use gentle touch to help the patient feel safe and supported or use more direct touch to help the patient release tension and trauma.
Generally speaking, somatic therapy is a powerful tool for healing and recovery. By addressing the physical aspect of trauma, somatic therapy can help patients to achieve lasting emotional and psychological healing.
The benefits of somatic therapy
Somatic therapy offers a range of benefits for patients suffering from psychological trauma, including:
- Improved emotional regulation and self-awareness: By helping patients to connect with their bodily sensations and emotions, somatic therapy can improve emotional regulation and increase self-awareness.
- Reduction of physical symptoms related to trauma, such as pain and tension: Somatic therapy can help patients release tension and trauma stored in the body, reducing physical symptoms.
- Increased sense of safety and trust in the body: By addressing the physical aspect of trauma, somatic therapy can help patients to develop a greater sense of safety and trust in their bodies.
- Long-term benefits of somatic therapy for patients who have experienced trauma: Somatic therapy can have long-term benefits for patients who have experienced trauma, including improved mental and physical health, better relationships, and an increased sense of well-being.
V. Who can benefit from somatic therapy?
Somatic therapy can be beneficial for patients who have experienced a range of different types of trauma, including:
- Developmental trauma
- Attachment disorders
- Chronic pain
Overall, somatic therapy can be helpful for anyone who is looking to address trauma in the body and achieve greater emotional and physical well-being.
VI. How to find a somatic therapist
To find a qualified somatic therapist, it’s essential to do your research and ask for recommendations. Some tips for finding a qualified somatic therapist include:
- Look for therapists who are trained and certified in somatic therapy.
- Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare providers.
- Research therapists online and read reviews from other patients.
- Contact therapists directly and ask about their experience and training in somatic therapy.
In conclusion, somatic therapy is a powerful tool for helping patients suffering from psychological trauma to heal and recover. By addressing the physical aspect of trauma, somatic therapy can help patients to achieve lasting emotional and psychological healing. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, consider exploring somatic therapy as a potential treatment option. Addressing body and mind trauma can lead to a greater sense of well-being and improved quality of life.
Disclaimer: As a registered clinical counsellor and registered psychotherapist (qualifying), I'm sharing insights on my blog for informational purposes, not professional advice or treatment. My writing aims to inspire you to consult your own healthcare or mental health provider. Remember, your decisions based on the blog content are solely your responsibility. Please explore other resources if this understanding doesn't align with your expectations. Thank you.