Introduction to Somatic Psychology

Somatic psychology is a form of treatment or therapy that puts an emphasis on somatic experience. It is a type of therapy which is body-centered and dwells into the mind and body connection. It incorporates psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. Holism entails that a person’s whole being should be treated. It is presumed that the entire life of a person is relevant when it comes to treating him or her, not just some certain parts. It is believed that a person’s whole self can affect his or her physical attributes – be it their feelings, beliefs, thought and any other emotions.

Physical activities such as exercise and diet are also said to affect one’s mental state. Exercises for mind and body are used by therapists, as well as physical techniques to help in releasing the tension. It is said that this tension has negative effect to a person’s emotional and physical well-being. Somatic psychology is believed to be of great help to those people who are facing many problems in their life.

People who have suffered trauma are also suspected to be trapped within themselves. Trauma can be gauged by a person’s body language. It can be shown on how a person expresses and presents themselves and any other subtle body language can also be noticed. Somatic psychotherapy usually uses talk therapy to assist those who are suffering from trauma. Talk therapy generally involves talking to the person and to be able to come up with a solution to ease the physical and emotional pain. Nevertheless, each person has different needs, and somatic psychology as well as body therapy can be used to further help with healing.

How it Works

The principle behind somatic psychology is the link between body, mind, and emotions – all of these are said to be interconnected. For this reason, the central nervous system is significantly affected by the stress experienced from past traumas and emotional distress. It also changes a person’s physical body and even the body language. This eventually leads to a change in one’s facial expression, demeanor and can cause physical discomfort.

The primary aim of somatic therapy is to help individual be mindful of their body sensations. A person will be capable to release anger, resentment, tension, and any other forms of emotions in the body by developing mind and body awareness. These emotions might have stemmed from the negative experiences in the past. Somatic psychology is intended to help eliminate all the stress and anxiety that can prevent a person from fully engaging in his or her life. This is the process on how it works:

  1. The somatic treatment begins with the therapist trying to understand why a patient is in need for holistic healing. The therapist will then ask about experiences that currently affected their health status – although this part may or may not be covered during the first session. It tends to depend on just how much the trauma is and whether the patient is okay with discussing it during the first session.
  2. This therapy is collaborative. This goes without saying that it would typically start by determining on what is the suitable approach to be used. Usually, treatment with somatic psychology involves personal interaction and talking. This means going over the physical appearance, expressions, emotions and thought of the patient.
  3. While a lot of patients would like to relieve their mental and physical symptoms the soonest possible, the healing process usually takes a long time. Although, with the body experiences, it can positively change in an instant. These changes usually get the patients off guard. Patients should be reminded that negative feedback usually follows whenever there is a positive change that takes place. That is because an attempt is being made to change the current way how the patient thinks.
  4. Patients are shown techniques on how their mind and body can create awareness. By doing this, it will help them learn how to relieve chronic pains. If the patient’s trauma is removed, the chronic pain experienced will significantly be reduced. This helps solve a great deal of mental and emotional pain.
  5. There is a body, mind and spirit connection. If there is an offset of one of the said elements, a chain reaction may occur. In order to improve the peace and balance in the life of the patient, self-connection should be developed. When the patient’s chest, neck, shoulder or back are tensed, it could be a result of emotional stress and tension which is usually trigged by an event of the past.
  6. The patient can then find tranquility in his or her state of mind after having released all the negative energy. As a result of letting go of the traumatic memories, they can now fully eliminate tension which was caused by their state of mind.

When it Should Be Used

Somatic psychology should be used for the following:

  1. To help those who are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
  2. To help those who are suffering from any kinds of addiction, grief, trauma, relationship problems and abuse.
  3. To help those who have issues with digestion, constant physical pain or any other medical conditions. It is usually used by people who had already tried traditional treatments but have not felt any alleviation for these conditions.

What to expect

Somatic psychology integrates talk therapy with physical therapy of various forms. The therapist will generally help the patient to revive memories of their traumatic experiences. After retrieving the memory, the therapist will also pay close attention for any physical reactions or responses from the patient.

Exercises for deep breathing, relaxation and meditation are the most common physical techniques used for this type of therapy. Using these exercises can help ease the symptoms. Adjunctive physical activities can also be used – dancing, work outs, yoga and any other forms of motion and vocal work. Everyone is unique, and what is exciting in somatic psychology is the figuring out of how the therapist can help the individual’s healing.