When you think of mental health treatment, you likely consider the thoughts and emotions that occur inside your head. However, the mind is deeply interconnected with the body. Somatic Therapy addresses this connection to deliver holistic healing to both your body and your mind.
Somatic Therapy combines mind and body techniques to promote better physical and emotional well-being. Stress, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and emotions take a physical toll on the body. Somatic Psychology studies the way that these negative thoughts and feelings live in the body as tension or physical pain as well as how your mental and physical responses influence each other. Licensed clinical psychologists who use Somatic Therapy use both physical and psychological techniques to take a holistic and comprehensive approach to mental health treatment.
What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic Therapy centers around the body and its connection with thoughts and emotions. This integrated body psychology uses various forms of psychotherapy alongside physical therapies and treatments to address mental health conditions and disorders. Somatic Psychology uses a body-centric approach to provide holistic healing to both the mind and the body.
Other therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, focus solely on the mind by addressing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. However, CBT and other forms of psychotherapy aren’t always enough on their own. When a mind-centric therapy module accomplishes all that it can for a patient, Somatic Therapy expands your possibilities by tapping into the body.
The most effective treatment plans incorporate multiple modalities to comprehensively address a client’s needs. By adding Somatic Therapy to your treatment plan, we can create even more extensive and thorough treatment for your mental health condition.
Different Types of Somatic Therapy
Various types of Somatic Therapy have been around for centuries. Today, licensed clinical psychologists use a variety of Somatic Psychology techniques to treat patients, including Somatics and Somatic Experiencing Therapy.
Somatics refers to using body movement to improve mental health. This is a broad term that has traditionally included practices such as yoga or pilates to promote overall mental and physical well-being. Somatics takes on a more structured practice in Somatic Psychology. With Somatics, your licensed clinical psychologist can guide you through intentional movements—similar to a physical therapy routine—that can revitalize the pathways between the body and the mind.
Somatic Experiencing Therapy aims to guide patients through the physical sensations they experience in response to negative thoughts and emotions or traumatic memories. As with other forms of therapy, patients undergoing Somatic Experiencing Therapy discuss their thoughts and feelings with their licensed clinical psychologist. Rather than focusing solely on these mental experiences, though, your psychologist will guide you through the underlying physical feelings that accompany these thoughts and emotions. Somatic Experiencing Therapy also incorporates physical exercises such as breath work, visualization, and sensation awareness techniques to help patients better understand and redirect their physical reactions to trauma, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and emotions.
How Somatic Therapy Helps
Somatic Therapy can work on its own or as a supplement to other forms of psychotherapy to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions and disorders, such as:
- Traumatic disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Clinical depression
- Addiction disorders
Somatic Psychology is also useful when treating physical conditions such as chronic pain, digestive disorders, and sexual dysfunction.
Core Principles of Somatic Therapy
Somatic Psychology focuses on a few fundamental principles. Licensed Clinical Psychologists who emphasize these behaviors and skills help their clients work through trauma and other negative emotions to establish better mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Developing Inner Resources
Somatic Therapy encourages patients to develop resources within themselves that allow them to better regulate or handle emotions.
The fight, flight, or freeze response associated with trauma is a good example of this. When you experience a traumatic experience, your body defaults to either fighting back, running away from the situation, or freezing in place. Even after the traumatic event, your body can get stuck in these instinctive reactions—especially freezing. Somatic Therapy teaches you how to recognize and manage these physical reactions until they’re no longer disruptive or dangerous to yourself or others.
Through mind-body awareness, Somatic Interventions, and other techniques, you can release the tension, stress, anger, and other emotions that linger in your body after a traumatic experience. By working through the ways trauma and other negative experiences affect your body, you can release these negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from your mind as well.
Somatic Therapy also aims to improve your physical awareness of your body. This practice revolves around observing and addressing physical sensations that stem from negative thoughts or emotions. A licensed clinical psychologist can help you practice physical awareness by asking you about certain emotions and where they exist in the body.
For example, if you’re upset, your psychologist might ask you how you know you’re upset. The answer might be a tightness in your chest or an upset stomach. By focusing on these physical sensations and observing how a client reacts, we can better understand the specific effects of stress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions on your mind and body.
In addition to physical awareness, centering is a useful technique that helps you better feel and understand what’s going on around you and how that affects your mind and body. Centering improves your awareness of your muscles, breathing, and mood to improve mind-body awareness in the face of trauma and other negative emotions.
Another key technique in Somatic Therapy is bodywork. This practice involves working with the motion of a patient’s body through structured and deliberate techniques like breathing exercises, guided meditation, or tissue manipulation.
Somatic Therapy and PTSD
Because trauma often has a significant effect on the body, Somatic Therapy is particularly useful when treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Somatic Psychology techniques, such as Somatic Experiencing Therapy, allow patients to work through trauma instead of letting it linger in the body. Somatic Trauma Therapy is an effective way of working through negative memories that can lead to disruptive flashbacks, panic attacks, and other detrimental experiences that are common symptoms of PTSD.
Find Somatic Therapy at Blair Wellness Group
Blair Wellness Group offers Somatic Therapy as part of our evidence-based treatment plans. By incorporating physical practices into your Mental Health Treatment, we can create a holistic approach to therapy that addresses the causes, symptoms, and challenges of your unique mental health experiences. Contact Dr. Blair and the team at Blair Wellness Group today to learn more about Somatic Therapy and how it works as part of a comprehensive and effective treatment plan.