What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy refers to a group of therapeutic approaches that include or focus on connection to the body and/or body-oriented interventions, often in addition to other aspects of talk therapy. The word “somatic” generally means anything relating to or connected with the body. Most somatic therapies see the mind and body connected as a whole, and not as separate entities.

 

There are many different types of somatic therapy. You might see mental health practitioners mentioning approaches like Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, or Hakomi Therapy. You might also find therapists who list theories like Polyvagal Theory informing their practice and/or refer to working with the nervous system and regulation based in mind-body connections. Somatic therapists often combine somatic aspects of therapy with other forms of therapy like cognitive, emotional, and traditional talk therapies. You might also come across other modalities like dance therapy or yoga therapy that may share some similarities with somatic therapies.

 

What does a somatic therapy session look like?

This can vary from therapist to therapist, as many therapists who share similar approaches will have differences in what each session looks like depending on their training, style, and the client’s needs and goals.

 

Some things you can expect in a somatic therapy session may include:

  • Questions that connect you to your body, like “Where do you feel that inside? What sensations are coming up for you?”

  • Somatic exercises or interventions like physical grounding, breathwork, movement, stretching, completing unfinished body movements, physical expression, relaxation, or examining and changing body patterns (e.g. posture, gestures).

  • Things you might find in other therapeutic approaches like exploring your thoughts, emotions, goals, values, and anything else that is relevant to your reasons for coming to therapy.

  • Meditation or mindfulness elements such as body scans, mindful observance of body/thoughts/emotions, and meditation exercises that may focus on the body.

 

What can somatic therapy be helpful for?

Somatic therapy may be beneficial for a wide range of concerns including anxiety, depression, trauma, grief & loss, stress, and addictions. It might also be included as part of therapeutic treatment for a variety of other concerns such attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or physical ailments like chronic pain or digestive issues.

 

If you are interested in somatic therapy, discuss it with your counsellor or book a free consultation with us today!

 
 

References & Further Reading

N., Sam. (2013, April 13). Somatic. In Psychology Dictionary. Retrieved May 30, 2023 from https://psychologydictionary.org/somatic/

Resnick, A. (2022, October 22). What is somatic therapy? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-somatic-therapy-5190064

Psychology Today (n.d.). Somatic therapy. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapy-types/somatic-therapy

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