What is Somatic Psychotherapy?
Somatic psychotherapy is a short term naturalistic approach to
the resolution and healing of life’s sufferings, losses
and trauma, whether large or small. We all experience inevitable
losses throughout our life span. Whether it be the death of a
loved one, ending of a relationship, career change, illness, or
interpersonal conflicts. All of which may result in symptoms of
depression, anxiety, addictive behavioral patterns, and the ensuing
stress this can create in one’s life.
Just as the field of medicine has coined the term “body-mind”,
and begun to suggest that the state of one’s mind is fundamental
to bodily healing, the field of psychology is quickly accepting
that the body plays an integral part in psychological health.
Somatic psychotherapy supports and guides one in finding ways
to incorporate the wisdom of the body as an ally in the psychotherapeutic
process. Part of the power in using the body comes from learning
more clearly what one is feeling and how to resolve and respond
to those feelings. Through somatic psychotherapy one learns how
one’s body can be a resource and support in any situation.
It is common to go into conventional psychotherapy to work with
emotions. The problem with using talk therapy exclusively to explore
emotional issues is that emotions are about feelings and feelings
are communicated to the mind through sensations in the body. Communication
via the body is a tool that is incorporated in somatic psychotherapy
as an ally to the therapeutic process. If we have an emotion we
would rather not feel, even if it is pleasant, our minds have
the capacity to change course or shut down, sometimes moving so
fast we don’t even recognize what happened. Bodies hold
the sensations of emotions longer and have a more difficult time
dispensing with experience. Our bodies offer new information through
the sensations they hold. If these sensations continue to be held
in the nervous system a negative feedback loop between body and
mind ensues, confusing ones internal wiring. When incorporating
work with body and mind, processes that are seeking resolution
can be addressed more directly and completely.
The rhythm of the body is where the precise truth and healing
takes place. Exploring and expressing one’s bodily experience
along with talking has the added benefit of stimulating both sides
of the brain. This process is able to access both sides of the
brain thus healing the entire organism, not just finding insight
and emoting to effect change which we now know is incomplete and
can actually prolong symptoms.
Somatic psychotherapy employs the awareness of body sensations
to help people resolve their difficulties life stressors and emotional
blocks rather than reliving them. With appropriate therapeutic
guidance into the body’s instinctive “felt sense”,
individuals are able to access their own innate ability to heal.
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