Somatic Focused Resilience Therapy
Nervous System Regulation
This body centered work has been the basis of Somatic Experiencing for nearly five decades.
Somatic Therapies help restore and build resilience by addressing nervous system dysregulation, healing trauma, healing developmental attachment issues and relieving stress induced maladaptive responses with a body centered awareness and resourcing approach to gently and effectively assist clients to recover, build resilience and live more fully.
More About Somatic Therapy
Somatic (body-centered) Therapy uses a "bottom-up" approach, meaning centered on the body, one's felt sense and experience in the body and of the body. Traditional talk therapy utilizes a "top-down" approach which uses cognitive processing (thinking) to understand by making or finding meaning. With Somatic work we don't rehash story, we don't try to think or find meaning or the why. Instead, we explore and use curiosity to notice and experience what is present as we explore the felt sense. This allows for completion of incomplete actions and reactions, it moves what was stored and enables re-connection to ourselves, healing of our nervous system, re-patterning of maladaptive survival strategies and more. We gain resilience and feel grounded.
There is another, and I believe the most important, factor to therapy and healing. It is the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. It is not the methods, skills, tools or trainings that the therapist has, It is the therapeutic alliance or relationship that provides the most benefit in therapy. So much can heal in the presence of another with whom one feels seen, heard, understood and safe.
Even More About Somatic Therapy
Somatic therapies such as Somatic Experiencing (SE™) are body-oriented therapeutic models for healing trauma and other stress disorders. “It is based on a multidisciplinary intersection of physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics and has been clinically applied for more than four decades. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine.
The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. It offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. SE provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others. ”* (Source SE Internationsl)
Somatic therapies help through the connection of mind and body and uses a body-centric approach.
Unlike standard mental health therapy types like CBT which focus prominently on the behavioral interventions or re-framing thinking patterns, somatic therapy incorporates body-oriented modalities that may include interoception, movement, guided imagery, dance, breathwork, mind-body exercises, talk and meditation to support individuals through their healing journeys.
Somatic therapies aim to help release things locked deep in the body and nervous system. It allows a completion of uncompleted trauma responses, which are implicated in the manifestation of PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Chronic pain. In general, this modality does not go into the “story” but rather the felt senses in the body and moves through these with focus and guidance.
Types of Somatic Therapy
The most well-known and studied form of somatic therapy is known as Somatic Experiencing or SE. SE practitioners guide clients to focus on their physical sensations and uses mind-body exercises which may include breath awareness and conscious breath or breathwork, meditation, Visualization, massage, resourcing and grounding techniques, dance or movement, and/or sensation awareness work.
Other somatic therapies include:
Sensorimotor psychotherapy: Uses the body as both a source of information and intervention targets.
Hakomi: Psychotherapy that integrates scientific, psychological, and spiritual sources, focusing on four core concepts: gentleness, nonviolence, compassion, and mindfulness.
Brainspotting: In addition to mind and bodywork, this therapy incorporates eye positioning to retrain emotional reactions.
Somatic therapy operates off the idea that what happens to you in your life is stored in your body in disorganized ways that have become stuck or stored most often as a result if not completing the trauma response. The focus is on the physical sensations in your body. Somatic therapy techniques include:
Developing more awareness of your body and its sensations
Calling upon emotional resources
Movement, including acting out of physical feelings
Learning tools to calm oneself and move from Sympathetic state to the Parasympathetic state.
Alternating focus between something stressful and something not stressful to help release tension
What Somatic Therapy Can Help With
Physically, somatic therapy may assist with:
Somatic therapy has been shown to be an effective form of therapy for numerous psychiatric and physical issues.
Things to Consider
As with any form of therapy, it's essential to be in an emotional and mental place where you have the time and energy to process complex feelings. If you're doing somatic therapy in person, touch can and may be involved. Important to discuss any issues you have with touch including injuries and past traumas. You will not be touched without your consent.
If you're interested in trying somatic therapy, feel free to contact me and we can talk about how you can get started.
Just a note: most Somatic Practitioners do not work with health insurance companies because somatic therapy is considered an alternative form of therapy. Many are licensed therapists, counselors and psychologists, others are practitioners in Reiki, massage, physical therapy and other modalities. Choosing the person with whom you have a good fit is helpful. I am happy to have a chat with you before we get started to see if we feel like a good fit. Even though I have many skills and tools I believe that the therapeutic relationship is a major component to any healing process.
Prepare for Your First Appointment
Before your first appointment, it helpful to think through your emotional and physical goals and what you want to accomplish through the therapy. As with any therapy, be aware that you may bring up old and painful memories.
Whether virtual or in-person, I will ask you questions about your history and therapy goals during your first session. We will work together to discuss what the therapy will look like and how you will proceed. What matters most is that you are comfortable with me.
As with all therapies, somatic therapy may be emotionally difficult, it will be a unique and individual journey so the length of time and number of sessions you will need cannot be predicted. Allow yourself to think of attending a number of sessions before you may notice any changed. Many people find a Somatic work provides a deeper level of healing than other therapies.
*(Borrowed text definition from SE Internationals website)
Somatic Therapy Classes & Courses
Foundations of Resilience- 21 day Foundation 101 Course
In the upcoming Foundations of Resilience- 21 day Foundation 101 Course
You will learn about Resilience,
What undermines and what supports it.
You will gain an understanding of the role of the nervous system and it's impact on mental and physical health.
You will learn skills to help heal from negative experiences, let go of trauma and stress and enhance and support resilience.
We will explore the "felt sense" in the body with Somatic techniques to help you reconnect and move through and let go of whatever needs this work.
You will gain skills and an understanding that will help bring you back to balance, to a calm alive resilient place.
You will build a foundation that can better handle stress and allow you to live more fully with resilience and joy.
Course Structure and Features
Each day you will have a video or written teaching which will include activities to help you deepen your understanding of the material and embody the teaching. Supportive optional videos, readings, guided meditation, experiential activities and experiences will be made available as they relate to the daily topic. You may dive in each day or return to these as you feel drawn to them. They are meant as a support and enhancement, so do not stress if you don't get to them right away. The core material will be in the daily lesson.
Throughout each week we will meet online as a group. Times will be posted in your Welcome section on your course portal. These are educational and experiential "classes". No worries if your can't make it to the live session, these will be recorded and made available in your course portal between 24-48 hours after the live class.
I am so looking forward to guiding you through this process. A healthy foundation is possible and it all starts here in the 21 day Foundation 101 Course.