What is Somatic Awareness Therapy?

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What is Somatic Awareness Therapy?

Somatic awareness therapy (SAT) is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes body techniques to help patients heal from emotional and physical discomfort. It has proven successful for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD as well as those dealing with digestive issues, chronic pain conditions and more.

Somatic awareness therapy aims to reduce stress through breathing exercises, guided meditations and other techniques that teach patients how to better regulate their emotions. These methods are especially helpful for clients suffering from chronic emotional or physical discomfort.

Developing an Inner Home Base: Centering is a fundamental practice in somatic therapy that involves slowing down one’s breathing pattern and creating a sense of serenity. This can be accomplished through working on one’s posture or focusing on specific parts of the body.

Understanding Trauma’s Effects on the Nervous System: Trauma can cause the body to go into survival mode, leading to physical symptoms that may persist for some time. These signs indicate that even after the event has passed, one’s nervous system is still responding to the initial trauma.

This response can be a combination of the fight or flight and freeze responses. When faced with an immediate threat, adrenal glands release stress hormones like cortisol into the body’s circulation. On the other hand, freeze response occurs in response to physical or emotional danger and may be elicited by feelings such as fear, sadness, panic or anger.

When the freeze response is not discharged, it can leave a charge trapped in the nervous system that leads to severe dysregulation and dissociation. The Somatic Experiencing method helps release this charged energy and silence any alarm bells that might otherwise go off, alerting one that they are under attack.

Identification of Body Schemata in Symptom Self-Management: People suffering from chronic physical or mental illnesses typically develop an internal “body schema,” or system of sensory-motor functions that operate almost automatically at a preconscious level. This schema serves to organize psychobiologic changes necessary for successful symptom self-management (e.g., breathing patterns and muscle relaxation).

Melody Wright, LMFT is an acupuncturist and bodyworker with advanced training in somatic therapy. She believes that true healing occurs when self-awareness and compassion are combined. She is passionate about helping people gain a greater awareness of their bodies so they can experience lasting transformation and growth.

Integrating Somatic Awareness Into Traditional Therapies: Therapists trained in somatic awareness often incorporate mindfulness and other body-based approaches into their traditional psychotherapy practices, giving them a more complete understanding of their patients and providing additional support throughout the therapeutic process.

Utilizing Somatic Awareness in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Somatic awareness can be a useful tool in treating patients who experience digestive complaints in relation to their interpersonal relationships with family members. When people become aware of how their physical symptoms are connected to these interpersonal experiences, they may be more receptive to treatment options.

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