Somatic therapy is a unique form of therapy that focuses on the mind-body connection to bring about holistic change. Using both psychotherapy and physical therapies, somatic therapy can help a person release pent-up tension that is negatively impacting their physical and emotional wellbeing.
The theory behind this type of therapy is that past mental and emotional trauma disrupts our automatic nervous system (ANS). Somatic therapists work on the basis that our bodies hold onto prior traumas and oftentimes manifests them later on as physical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, digestive issues, physical pain, hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction, and immune system dysfunction.
Who Can Benefit from Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy can help individuals that suffer from a wide range of mental issues such as addiction, grief, depression, stress, and anxiety. It can also help people heal from past trauma and abuse and anyone currently dealing with sexual dysfunction and problems in their relationships.
Also, anyone who has not received effective traditional treatments for chronic physical pain, digestive disorders, and other chronic disorders may benefit from somatic therapy.
How Does it Work?
Somatic therapy combines traditional talk therapy with physical therapy. During a session, the therapist will help a patient revive memories from traumatic events and pay attention to any physical experiences that happen once these memories have been revived.
At this point, different physical therapies such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and meditation may be used to help relieve any symptoms felt in the moment. Often adjunctive physical therapies are used to bring about tension release and may include dance, exercise, yoga, or other types of movement, vocal work, and massage.
By working with a patient over numerous sessions, the patient begins to develop a mind-body connection and is able to release long-held anger, tension, frustration and other negative emotions that may have gotten stuck in the physical body.
The overall goal of a somatic therapist is to help their patients free themselves from the mental, emotional and potentially physical pain that is preventing them from fully engaging with their life.
What to Look for in a Somatic Therapist
You should look for someone who is licensed and has experience as a mental health professional with advanced (and supervised) training in somatic therapy techniques. It’s also important to look for someone you feel comfortable discussing your personal issues with.