What is Somatic Psychotherapy?

A somatic therapist will help you tap into the wisdom of both mind and body, to regain an innate sense of wholeness. Soma means body and psyche means mind, so a holistic exploration of physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is essential to somatic psychotherapy.

Is talk therapy part of somatic therapy? 

Traditional talk therapy is what we tend to think of when we imagine being in therapy – talking about relationships, work woes, childhood, etc. Talk therapy helps us to process events, memories, symptoms, and thoughts and to make meaning of our lives. Many therapists will primarily utilize talk therapy and cognitive processes, privileging the wisdom of the mind. This is an effective method, and essential to the therapeutic process. 

For some clients, intellectual processing and insight doesn’t feel like quite enough in their quest for wellness. Somatic psychotherapists utilize talk therapy in all sessions, while also inviting the body’s wisdom into the mix. This integrative approach expands the possibilities for healing, as it recognizes the whole being in the healing process. 

Isn’t the mind part of the body? 

Yes! In some sense there is no need to make a clear distinction between mind and body – they come as a complete set. However, in this sense, the mind is the term generally used to refer to the prefrontal cortex (the evolutionarily new, “talk therapy” part of the brain). While the mind is a brilliant mechanism, it is not our only resource, nor is it the only way we process and store emotion and memory. The body’s multiple systems have profound roles in how we receive, and participate in, the surrounding world. Within this framework, the body is primarily used as a term to refer to everything that is not the neo-cortex, including other parts of the brain such as the amygdala. 

What does somatic therapy look like in practice? 

A somatic therapy session will look different for every client. As in all therapy, the relationship between therapist and client is a foundational part of the healing process. Talking is an integral part of this process. Additionally, things like breathwork, movement, visualization, and explorations of posture and voice might be explored.  A somatic therapist is also trained to be aware of nervous system activation, overwhelm, and dissociation in the client. Part of the work might be for a client to learn how to self and co-regulate when in stressed or highly emotional states, or how to tolerate being present in their body during periods of discomfort, and even pleasure. Somatic psychotherapy taps into the wisdom of the body in order to heal the body, which can lead to powerful, affirming and positive change.

 

Interested in learning more about somatic therapy or working with Jessica? Email her for a complimentary 15 minute consultation at jessica@havncollective.com


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