What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic Therapy is an umbrella term for a number of techniques that use the mind-body connection to heal. "Somatic" means "of or relating to the body". With trauma, one of the key reasons it is so difficult to heal is because our bodies store all the pain, and it's our bodies that typically react quickly to situations before we've had a chance to think about them:
- When you're feeling anxiety or panic, your breath gets faster and your stomach is in knots before you've had a chance to realize you're worried.
- When you're people-pleasing, your head bowed, your voice got softer and your shoulders curled forward before you've had a chance to say "sure, I'll do it".
- When you shut down, you started "spacing out" and losing track of the conversation in front of you before you realized you were overwhelmed.
One reason it's so hard to heal from trauma is that your body is working faster than your mind, and by the time you've caught up to what's happening, it's too late. Now you're dealing with the consequences.
How Somatic Therapy works
Somatic therapy goes beyond the kind of therapy that gets you to "think better" and helps you figure out how to work with your body to heal more deeply. It helps you assess what's happening by paying attention to what your body tells you, helps you slow your automatic reactions, and helps you turn things around more quickly when you've found yourself triggered.
Somatic therapy might incorporate a number of techniques, including:
- Grounding techniques - that help you feel more present
- Somatic Experiencing techniques - to help you process and release trauma physically
- Polyvagal-informed techniques - to work with your nervous system to better manage the "fight or flight" response
- Yoga - to train your body to respond healthily, and breathe through difficulty
- Mindfulness strategies - to help you become more present to your body sensations, emotion, and environment
- Anti-oppressive practices - to shift the focus away from having you "cope" with injustice, toward the practices and people that bring joy, life, rest, ritual, and energy in the middle of the struggle against oppression.
Because much of the reason you're struggling when you first come to therapy is the impact of trauma on your body, we spend much of the beginning of therapy using somatic techniques to help you feel more able to deal with the anxiety, panic, or disconnection you might feel. In trauma treatment, we refer to this first phase of therapy as the "stabilization" phase. Somatic therapy can help you feel more ready to do the deeper work of healing.
Ready to get started with Somatic Therapy?
Contact us to get started.