What is Somatic Therapy?

somatic therapy

Although we may feel we have overcome certain obstacles and circumstances or escaped them entirely unscathed, we may be carrying around unresolved baggage that we are simply unaware of. Everything that happens in our lives impacts us – either consciously or subconsciously. Significant events such as the death of a close friend or family member, the loss of a meaningful relationship, or a near-death accident may result in psychological trauma. If traumas such as these are not adequately resolved, damage done to the psyche will persist and hinder the afflicted from reaching his or her full emotional and spiritual potential.

Somatic therapy serves as an invaluable tool when it comes to thoroughly and effectively resolving past traumas. The word somatic is derived from the Greek word ‘soma’, which means living body. This specific therapeutic method focuses on the relationship between the body and the mind when concerned with psychological past, and significant past events. This kind of psychology confirms that the mind and body are certainly interconnected, and that this connection is quite deeply rooted. The mind influences the body, just the same as the body influences the mind.

The Mind and The Body Are Interconnected

According to somatic psychologists, unresolved traumas are reflected into physical cues such as body language, facial expressions, and even posture. The stability of the autonomous nervous system is said to be affected by significant trauma, potentially resulting in physical and mental symptoms such as digestive issues, pain, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, depression, and substance dependency. Somatic therapy focuses on identify and releasing the physical manifestation of tension that remains in the body after a traumatic event has taken place. While there are many varieties of somatic experiencing, we at Next Chapter most commonly utilize methods involving bodily awareness, movement, breath work, dance, healing touch, physical exercise, and voice work.

Two of the most common methods of somatic therapy include the pendulated method and titration. The pendulated method of somatic therapy concerns the movement from a state of homeostasis to a state of instability, and back again. The patient is carefully guided from a state of homeostasis to a point where physical symptoms are present, and then directed back to a point of homeostasis once again. The main point of this specific method is to provoke ‘discharge’, meaning a release of stress that has been stored by the central nervous system. In most patients, this discharge presents itself in the form of twitching, flushing of the skin, nausea, and general discomfort. Working this pent up stress through the body and releasing it physically helps to clear the mind and the body of detrimental thoughts and behavioral patterns.

Next Chapter and Somatic Therapy

On the other hand, titration involves identifying a place of safety and stability. The patient is taken to this resource state, then slowly guided through past traumatic experiences. As he or she is guided through these experiences, the therapist will ask whether or not any noticeable physical or mental symptoms are being evoked. While physical symptoms are often very minor if they occur at all, they will be attended to in depth in following therapeutic sessions. Overall, somatic therapy is geared towards freeing patients of uncomfortable physical symptoms directly related to unresolved trauma. In most cases, patients will find that they feel freer, less anxious, and more readily able to engage in the present moment.