Somatic therapy is a unique form of therapy that focuses on the mind-body connection to help bring about change. Somatic basically means relating to the body, so any somatic therapy will incorporate your body. Perhaps you’ve heard the term psychosomatic to describe symptoms that doctors cannot otherwise explain, thus they feel these real body problems are being caused by the mind. Somatic therapy can help a person learn to use their bodies, trust their bodies and notice when they are having a physical response to something going on in their minds.
Think about anxiety, we often notice we are anxious because our body is having a physical response. Our hearts race, we might feel our palms sweat, get sweaty in general, feel a drop in our stomach, etc. Somatic therapy can help us learn to re-gain control of these body sensations to tame our minds.
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 trauma, 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 grounding and mindfulness techniques designed to help us get out of our minds and connected to our bodies. During a session, the therapist will help a person focus on their concerns and pay attention to any physical experiences that happen once these concerns are brought to the surface.
At this point, different techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, deep mindfulness and meditation may be used to help relieve any symptoms felt in the moment.
By working with a person over several sessions, the person 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 clients free themselves from the mental, emotional and potentially physical pain that is preventing them from fully engaging with their life.
How Brainspotting fits into this picture
Brainspotting is a type of somatic therapy. During a brainspotting sessions, we will explore how certain areas of focus impact physical feelings in your body. During brainspotting your therapist will frequently check in with your body sensations and ask you to rate them on a scale of 1-10. Most people feel the intensity of these physical sensations significantly reduce during a session. These benefits continue on after the session has ended and continued sessions help develop this skill and overall healing over time.
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.
If you or someone you know is interested in exploring somatic therapy, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you release and move on from the pain.
Modern Change offers somatic therapy in Durham, NC.
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