Know How About Somatic Therapy?

by Shamsul
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What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic counseling is also known as somatic experiencing therapy or SE therapy. A treatment that helps treat post-traumatic stress and the effects of other mental health issues. This somatic therapy integrates both mental and physical approaches, combining psychotherapy with physical therapies for comprehensive treatment.

Summary

Somatic therapy can help.

How does somatic therapy work?

When is somatic therapy used?

Somatic therapy techniques

Grounding

Development of boundaries

Self-regulation

Movement and process

Sequencing

Titration

Are there limits to somatic therapy?

What to look for in a somatic therapist

Somatic Therapy Can Help

Are you looking for somatic therapy? Find an experienced therapist.

Somatic therapy aims to help individuals clear their minds and connect with their bodies. It is effective because it combines mindfulness, grounding techniques, and traditional talk therapy.

Therapists practicing somatic body psychotherapy believe that a person’s inner feelings affect their physical form. They use mind-body exercises to release repressed trauma, working to heal from the inside out by addressing these bodily sensations.

Are you interested in learning how this therapy works? Continue reading to learn about the techniques used and their common applications.

How Does Somatic Therapy Work?

It’s easy to feel trapped by your own physical and emotional stress. Feeling trapped can lead to panic, anxiety, and an inability to calm down. While traditional talk therapy effectively addresses many mental and emotional health issues, somatic psychotherapists believe that incorporating attention to the body’s symptoms can enhance its benefits. This approach can help relieve stress and chronic pain, enabling individuals to live more fully.

Somatic therapy approaches aim to treat your physical and mental health simultaneously so you can find relief more quickly.

Ashley Ertel, Talkspace Therapist, LCSW, BCD, CDBT

Somatic Experiential Therapy is a specific approach to somatic therapy. It is based on the idea that traumatic experiences cause a person’s nervous system to malfunction and prevent them from processing the experience. The goal of somatic experiential therapy, therefore, is to help individuals notice the physical sensations arising from their mental health problems and to use this awareness to overcome painful feelings and emotions.

These physical sensations can manifest as chronic pain and other unpleasant symptoms.

After some time, somatic trauma healing therapy aims to enhance individuals’ body awareness and teach them techniques to release physical tension. These may include:

Breathing exercises for anxiety awareness of sensations, Physical exercise, Massage, Dance therapy, Grounding exercises

The key is to help a person develop new thought patterns and behaviors so that they can better respond to various experiences or emotions as they arise.

When is Somatic Therapy Used?

Somatic trauma healing therapy emphasizes the connection between the body and mind during treatment. It can be conducted in both individual and group therapy settings. This approach helps address the physical and psychological symptoms related to various mental health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic stress
  • Addiction
  • Grief
  • Trauma and abuse
  • Relationship issues
  • Sexual dysfunction

Somatic experiencing therapy can also be beneficial for those who have not found success with more traditional treatment methods after a traumatic experience. These treatments may include those for physical pain, digestive disorders, sleep problems, and other medical problems. The idea of ​​using somatic techniques is that once the physical symptoms are resolved, most people will find it easier to treat the psychological symptoms by applying of somatic therapy techniques.

Somatic Therapy Techniques

This type of therapy aims to engage a person’s body as a therapeutic technique and tap into the basic functions of the nervous system during treatment. Somatic psychology, the theory from which somatic therapy is derived, includes the following primary concepts.

Grounding

Grounding techniques refer to a person’s ability to experience themselves as embodied in the moment. The somatic therapy approach involves a person feeling their physical form, engaging their senses, feeling their feet on the ground, and ultimately calming their nervous system.

Development of Boundaries

Boundary development involves:

  • Focusing on the present moment.
  • Empowering them to stay responsive to their changing needs.
  • Developing clear boundaries.

This helps you respond in a way that feels strong and protected.

Self-Regulation

Highlighting the importance of remaining consciously connected to the body during strong emotions or sensations, self-regulation aims to develop an awareness of physical sensations to regulate (or effectively respond to) emotional intensity.

Movement and Process

Somatic therapies harness an individual’s ability to heal by listening to their body. Gestures, postures, and the use of space all provide insight into a person’s experience. In SE therapy, they are encouraged to engage with their impulses to drive a resolution consciously.

Sequencing

When tension begins to release, the movement of emotion can occur throughout the body. Tension may build up in the stomach, move to the chest, and eventually settle into throat tightness, or alternatively, tension may be released through tears and result in an ability to breathe more freely.

Titration

Titration is a somatic approach that refers to a process of experiencing small amounts of distress in an attempt to relieve pain from a previous traumatic event or experience. As one begins to revisit past trauma, your therapist will track your body’s response and the sensations it evokes. They will check how you are feeling in addition to monitoring your physical reaction, changes in breathing, clenched hands or change in tone of voice.

Are There Limits to Somatic Therapy?

While many report good results from somatic therapy, scientific evidence for this approach remains limited. In 2017, the first randomized controlled study evaluated the effectiveness of this approach for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and found that somatic psychotherapy had positive benefits as a treatment option. However, the study had some limitations, as did some other PTSD research.

In addition to the need for further research, there are ethical concerns surrounding the use of touch during therapy. While some may find that physical contact during therapy reduces pain and helps release tension, others – especially those impacted by trauma and sexual abuse – may be triggered or uncomfortable.

When Searching for A Somatic Therapist, Consider These Key Factors:

  1. Credentials and Training: Look for therapists who are approved by authorities and have specific training in somatic therapy or related modalities such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
  2. Experience: Check if the therapist has experience working with issues similar to yours, especially trauma or stress-related disorders.
  3. Approach and Philosophy: Understand the therapist’s approach, how it aligns with your needs and preferences.
  4. Empathy and Rapport: A good therapist should create a supportive and safe environment where you feel comfortable exploring your physical and emotional experiences.
  5. Feedback and Reviews: Consider reviews and testimonials from other clients to gauge the therapist’s effectiveness and professionalism.
  6. Accessibility and Logistics: Consider feasible factors such as location, appointment availability, fees, and insurance coverage.
  7. Collaborative Approach: Ensure the therapist is open to collaborating with other healthcare providers if needed, to ensure comprehensive care.
  8. Feel Comfortable: It is equally important to find a therapist you feel comfortable speaking with and who you feel understands you and the challenges you seek to overcome.

Choosing a somatic therapist involves finding someone who resonates with you personally and professionally and who has the expertise to support your healing journey effectively.

The connection between a person’s mind and body is strong and can open up potential new treatments for mental health issues. Practitioners believe that a person’s thoughts and feelings can impact their physical well-being and use mind-body exercises to help release pent-up tension. Although more research is still needed, there is evidence that finds benefits to somatic therapy. With the help of a licensed therapist on our online therapy platform at Talkspace, a person can better manage physical tension in their body and improve their experiences. Get started with online somatic therapy today.

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Sources:

1. About us – Somatic experience – Continuing education. Somatic experience – Continuing education. Published in 2015. https://traumahealing.org/about-us/

2. Brom D, Stokar Y, Lawi C, et al. Somatic experiencing for post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled outcome study. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2017;30(3):304-312. doi:10.1002/jts.22189


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