Somatic Therapy Definition
Somatic therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes body-conscious techniques to help patients feel better. The main goal is to make people more aware of their bodies and foster an intimate connection with themselves.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented therapy that assists victims of trauma by addressing physical sensations associated with the experience. It can also be integrated into other types of mental health therapy to address issues like PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Sensorimotor Therapy is a form of somatic therapy that utilizes movement, gestures and body language to release stuck feelings and emotions. Additionally, it allows clients to become aware and work with physical sensations caused by trauma such as heat, cold, shaking or tears.
Peter Levine developed this body-centered therapy to help patients process their trauma in a safe and supportive environment. It often works alongside EMDR and other types of therapy for treating PTSD and other emotional issues.
It is a non-pathologizing, resilience-focused approach that helps address the physical health and mental health symptoms experienced by those who have experienced trauma, as well as their clinicians. This therapy may be beneficial for individuals suffering from PTSD or other trauma-related symptoms like depression, chronic pain, insomnia, or anxiety.
Somatic therapists employ body-oriented approaches to assist their patients with mental health issues such as trauma, PTSD and complex PTSD. Additionally, they may incorporate somatic exercises and other therapies into the healing process for their clients.
In SE, therapists may ask their client to verbalize the bodily sensations they experience as they recall an event. These sensations are considered discharges of energy stored in the body after that event and can cause feelings such as disorientation, heaviness or dizziness.
These sensations may also include physical aches and pains or changes in body temperature that are unrelated to the traumatic event. These feelings can be intense or calming, making them an integral part of therapy.
Therapists may use grounding techniques to relax the nervous system, which is especially helpful for patients who have suffered trauma. They will typically begin a session by feeling the earth beneath their feet and eventually move on to sensing their own form as they remain grounded in the present moment.
Self-regulation is another aspect of SE, designed to help patients learn how to regulate the emotional intensity of their thoughts and feelings. It involves paying attention to how it feels to respond strongly and protectively when faced with big feelings or physical sensations.
Boundaries are an integral component of somatic therapy, where patients learn to set clear boundaries for themselves. This could involve learning how to say “YES” or “NO,” as well as practicing setting them verbally, through facial expressions, and body language.