Somatic therapy is not immune to criticism. However, the latest advances in neuroscience support many of its principles. Being aware of our somatic experiences can help us heal from trauma and cystic emotions.
Somatic therapy helps us understand and promote the right harmony between body, mind and emotions. It is a holistic approach that uses various therapeutic strategies. Thus, its goal is to help us become aware of various somatic experiences, associated with traumatic events or cystic emotions. Sometimes we miss that close conjunction of mind, body, and emotions.
All of the kids their teachers called too nervous, rowdy, and bad in class made huge strides by doing a series of physical activities right before class started. After these exercises, they were more relaxed and more focused. So much so that they were able to improve, especially in the reading and writing processes.
The truth is, we still don’t understand this special connection made between the body, our emotions, and even our cognitive performance. For example, Antonio Damasio is one of the most important figures in this field. Thus, one of his best-known theories is undoubtedly that of somatic markers.
This expression defines how emotions create what is called somesthetic sensations. These are a type of physiological pattern that can moderate our decision-making and reasoning processes. It is undoubtedly a fascinating subject which has also incorporated into its foundations approaches such as somatic therapy. Let’s find out more below.
Table of Contents
Overview of Somatic Therapy
Somatic therapy is a psychobiological approach oriented mostly to the treatment of trauma. One of the premises of this approach is that, if the body and mind are not treated as a unit, it is virtually impossible to facilitate complete healing of the person.
This technique was developed by Berkeley professor Standley Keleman in 1971. Its purpose was to “heal physical, emotional and psychological knots derived from conflict and unresolved experiences”.
Thus, it is applied effectively in the context of anxiety, stress, depression, drug addiction and even to improve the quality of life of people suffering from chronic pain. If we now ask ourselves about the effectiveness of somatic therapy, we can say that we have an abundant scientific literature.
Thus, studies conducted at the University of Jerusalem and the Los Angeles Institute of Trauma show that somatic therapy is a useful strategy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress. Researchers have indeed been able to observe good progress in patients who were victims of abuse in their childhood. But also in people immersed in events related to natural disasters.
Objectives of Somatic Therapy
We are faced with a type of psychobiological approach where body awareness is integrated into the psychotherapeutic process.
Somatic therapy is based on the idea that any trauma, fact, problem or complex concern has an impact on the autonomic nervous system
These complex emotions, far from dissipating over time, somatize in our body. And they do it in the form of digestive problems. Imbalances in hormones and the immune system Muscle pain. Headaches. Allergies. Etc ..
The goal of the therapist is to facilitate homeostasis. In other words, to achieve harmony between body and mind. Where nothing hurts. Where nothing disturbs our ability to develop in the present under the weight of the past
During the somatic therapy sessions, tools are offered. They allow the patient to detect all the sensations that occur in his body
Thus, somatic therapy differs from cognitive therapy in that the intervention goes from the body to the mind. Revealing and understanding these internal sensations, both visceral (interception) and musculoskeletal, allow the therapist to move on to emotional realities
In addition, it must be said that in recent years, somatic therapy has found more scientific support. This is thanks to advances in neuroscience. Studies such as that by Dr Lauri Nummenmaa, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Aalto University in Finland, has undoubtedly been one of the most striking and revealing.
In this work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) magazine, we are presented with the first body map of human emotions. Internal realities such as anger, fear, disappointment, delusion, surprise or envy have revealed greater physiological activity in a certain area of our body.
Somatic Therapy Techniques
Dr. Peter Levine is a biophysical physician and psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley. He is one of the representatives of the so-called somatic experimentation therapy. His approach to mediating this emotional release is to be able to “remove” it first from our body. For this, it is necessary that we ourselves are aware of this pathological imprint contained in our body.
The means to achieve this are as follows:
Relaxation and deep breathing techniques
Physical exercises such as dancing, movements, stretching, etc.
Exercises with the voice
Each person will work best with one type of technique or another. However, the goal is for the person to become aware of somatic experiences. Each sensation should evoke images and emotions, which will help the therapist understand what is going on.
In conclusion, it should be noted that this type of therapy is not without its criticisms. The main one is that many people make the mistake of switching to this strategy without first having a clear diagnosis. Organic problems, diseases and hormonal alterations, such as thyroid problems, should always be excluded.
Somatic therapy, while useful and interesting, does not have the rate of effectiveness exhibited, for example, by more relevant therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, we cannot ignore its current boom.