What Is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy is a body-centered therapeutic approach that focuses on the connection of mind and body in the healing process. The stress of past emotional and traumatic events affects the central nervous system and can cause changes in the body. Through developing awareness of the mind-body connection and using specific interventions, somatic therapy helps you to release the activation that remains in your body from these past negative experiences. Somatic therapy is helpful for treating a number of problems, including stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, as well as issues related to trauma and abuse.
How Does It Work?
Trauma affects our minds and our bodies. Our bodies remember and hold trauma. Our nervous systems can become dysregulated and “stuck” in survival mode, also known as fight-flight-or-freeze mode. As a result, we continue to relive the fear and distress as if the trauma were still occurring in the present, with symptoms including anxiety, depression, numbness, fear and worry, or irritability and anger.
Stuck trauma is not caused by the traumatic event itself, but by the nervous system’s inability to process and release the activation caused by it. In order to experience lasting relief from symptoms, it is important to access the body and release the painful memories and experiences that are held there. This allows the nervous system to return to a balanced and regulated state.
Trauma Resiliency Model
I have been trained in the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM), which is a “bottom-up” somatic approach to therapy that focuses on the use sensory awareness for emotion regulation and integration. TRM teaches the biology of trauma responses and the practice of emotion regulation through biologically based skills. TRM works to stabilize the nervous system through managing sensations in the body, which can help in the reprocessing of “stuck” traumatic memories as well as providing self-care strategies for everyday life.
Although insight about life experiences can be helpful, it doesn’t always bring the nervous system back into balance. Talk therapy alone is often not enough to treat the nervous system dysregulation that is so common in people who have struggled with traumatic and stressful life experiences.
When a client is pressed to talked a traumatic event, it can actually reinforce the fear and stress that are part of the recollection. Simply re-telling your story can be re-traumatizing. With TRM, no words are needed– the body holds the story that words may be unable to express, and a new narrative can emerge through working with sensations in the body.