Somatic Psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Psychotherapy combines traditional approaches to counseling, including dream work, talk, interpretation, and reflection, with experiential explorations. The underlying insight in somatic psychotherapy is that we enact self-feeling, identity, and connection with others through bodily means. We reach out or pull away, are warm or cold to people, are emotional or restricted in our feelings. Through our development in families and communities, we construct embodied patterns of feeling, sensation, expression, movement, and emotion through which we know ourselves and make relationships in the world.
Work, play, and other engagements with the world are also enacted through the development of varying muscular states, emotional and feeling capabilities, and ranges of movement. As a Somatic Psychotherapist, I am trained to help clients explore the bodily means by which they conduct their daily lives. Through the use of breath work; movement exercises; touch; and explorations of feeling, sensation, posture, gesture, and expression, clients experience how they shape particular identities and interact with others.
In the context of the therapeutic/ healing relationship, we work collaboratively to explore the clients’ patterns of bodily comportment and by doing so, explorations of new means of enactment become useful tools in the development of ease, self-awareness, and satisfaction in living.
Every day as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner ®, I have the opportunity to see that human beings are born with an innate capability to recover, heal, and even triumph over trauma. It is a wonder. Somatic Experiencing® is a body-awareness approach to trauma developed by Peter Levine that is being used throughout the world and has shown to be effective in treating the aftermath of trauma. It is based upon the observation that human beings have an innate ability to overcome from the effects of trauma.
Trauma can come from severe events such as war, emotional, sexual or physical abuse, experiencing or witnessing violence, rape or catastrophic illness or injuries. But, it can also come from minor auto accidents, medical and dental procedures, falls, natural disasters, illness, being left alone as a young child, prolonged immobilization, exposure to extremes, suden loud noises and birth stress for both the mother and infant.
The impact of trauma comes after the event and can be housed your body’s nervous system over years. The process of healing trauma comes from the natural reorganization of your nervous system, the corresponding shifting of your thoughts, and a felt sense of emotional cohesion that results in sense of calm awareness and vitality.
EARLY SYMPTOMS of UNRESOLVED TRAUMA
- Hypervigilance (being on guard at all times) Extreme Sensitivity to Light and Sou
- Hyperactivity Exaggerated Emotional Responses
- Exaggerated Startle Responses Nightmares and Night Terrors
- Reduced ability to deal with stress Difficulty Sleeping
- Abrupt Mood Swings (Rage, Temper tantrum, Frequent Anger,Crying)
MORE SYMPTOMS THAT CAN COME FROM UNRESOLVED TRAUMA
- Panic Attacks, Anxiety and Phobias
- Mental “blankness” or spaced out feelings
- Exaggerated or diminished sexual activity
- Amnesia or Forgetfulness
- Chronic fatigue or very low physical energy
- Immune system problems
- Endocrine problems such as thyroid malfunction or environmental sensitivities
- Chronic Pain
- Digestive Problems (Spastic colon)
BENEFITS OF RESOLVING TRAUMA (i.e. Doing the Work)
- Feeling Alert yet Relaxed
- Living NOW in the Present Moment
- Normal awareness of Light and Sound
- Ability to be active then relax when you want to
- Stable and Balanced sense of Mood
- Increased ability to deal with stress (even feel envigorated by stress)
- Restful Sleeping
- More open, free inner sexual feelings
- Ability to love, nurture or bond with others
- Improved physical energy
- Immune system balance and getting sick less often
- Improved pain tolerance
- Improved ability to breathe
- Digestive Balance and ease