What is Somatic Psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing?
How is it different to talk therapy?
Somatic Psychotherapy, also known as Body Psychotherapy, encompasses a variety of approaches to psychological health. It acknowledges the importance of the body in forming our experience of life and actively uses the body in therapy as a source of information and a resource for healing.
The feelings, emotions and impulses that arise from the body are an integral part of our experience of life but we often repress, cut off or don’t recognize them due to our physiological and psychological adaptations to the constraints of our environment.
Working with the body in psychotherapy opens up a wealth of options for understanding, experiencing and healing that conventional talk therapy is often unable to tap into. This is due to the control of the conscious over cognition and verbal expression, the body’s role in creating the physical sensations that are the root of emotion and the body’s role in maintaining the muscular tension that anchors and reinforces our characterological responses to our environment.
Somatic Psychotherapy helps us deal with our concerns by helping us become deeply aware of our bodily sensations, feelings and impulses as well as our emotions, thoughts and behaviour.
The Somatic Experiencing® method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. The word “trauma” in this sense covers a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that result from the effect of accumulated stress on human physiology. It is the life’s work of Dr Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, aetiology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. The SE approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms.
This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions The completion of these response patterns can bring a greater capacity for self-regulation as well as an increased sense of social engagement, well-being, and integration. Even though SE primarily targets issues of trauma, it is also seen as an effective way of supporting individuals interested in expanding their ability to authentically be in the world. People often report feelings of greater ease physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
- Somatic Experiencing employs awareness of body sensation to help people “renegotiate” and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.
- Somatic Experiencing’s guidance of the bodily “felt sense,” allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.
- Somatic Experiencing may employ touch in support of the renegotiation process.
- Somatic Experiencing “titrates” experience (breaks down into small, incremental steps), rather than evoking catharsis – which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.
Moniquea is a registered NDIS Provider