How does Somatic therapy work for trauma?

The memories or recollections of certain trauma are not necessarily only in the brain, your body also holds onto its memories. Yes, trauma can live in your mind and body. Your neurological system can become dysfunctional because of traumatic events, which can prevent you from completely processing the trauma.

Your recovery from a traumatic incident could be aided by your efforts to release those barriers.  And they can be released with the use of somatic trauma therapy. In order to address both the physical and psychological symptoms of some mental health disorders; this method places a high priority on the mind-body link throughout treatment.

What is Trauma?

Any past event that has affected a person physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically can be termed trauma. Everyone experiences some form of trauma at some point in their lives.

These traumas differ from person to person and they can occur due to an infinite number of reasons like accidents, loss of a close one, any form of violence, fear, tragic incident, abuse, humiliation, facing natural disasters, serious illnesses, etc. Some people can naturally heal from physical or psychological trauma but for some, its effect continues to persist further.

Symptoms of unresolved trauma:

If the traumas are not resolved in the specific types, they can have a huge impact on a person’s future life, mainly affecting the behavior and ability to function. There are various symptoms of unresolved trauma:

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Irritation, hostility, and rage
  • Digestive problems
  • Emotional flooding
  • Restlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Lethargy
  • Dissociation
  • Sleeplessness

What is somatic therapy and how it works for trauma?

Somatic refers to something that is “related to the body.” Somatic counseling, which is often known as somatic experience therapy, is a type of treatment that helps address the impacts of different mental health issues as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. During treatment, this kind of therapy uses a patient’s mind and body to apply both psychotherapy and physical treatments.

Through bottom-up processing, somatic experiencing’s main objective is to improve the trauma-related stress response. Using certain techniques, a somatic therapist helps you in releasing any trauma that has built up and “stuck” in your body. Thus, in order to deal with emotional symptoms, such as feelings of rage, guilt, or humiliation, somatic trauma therapy helps you access and confront the trauma that still exists in your body.

Somatic Experiencing is distinct from CBT and DBT as it focuses on the physiological consequences of the occurrence rather than only focusing on the incident itself. Somatic therapy is beneficial because it incorporates mindfulness, grounding methods, and conventional talk therapy. It is intended to help people clear their thoughts and reconnect with their bodies. Your therapist will help you in exploring repressed emotions and the unpleasant physical feelings that go along with them via somatic experiencing.

Somatic therapy can address depression, grief, anxiety, and traumas. It is also helpful in addressing physical symptoms related to trauma, abuse, and other emotional distress like sleeping problems, respiratory issues, chronic pain, digestive issues, muscle tension, pain, etc. 

How does somatic experience work?

There is a certain process every certified somatic therapist follows to deal with PTSD.

  • Clinical assessment: An assessment to determine your trauma response i.e., fight, flight, freeze, flop, or fawn.
  • Recognizing bodily sensations: Your therapist will help you increase the awareness of your bodily sensations and physical symptoms. 
  • Resourcing: Your therapist will provide you with therapeutic tools that will help you release stored survival energy and finish the self-protective motor reaction. It focuses on the physical and behavioral patterns that emerge in response to traumatic experiences.
  • Titration: This process focuses on revisiting the trauma. And when you do so, your therapist will track your response and body sensations by watching your breathing changes, hand movements, voice, etc. 
  • Pendulation: Facilitating arousal levels brought on by the trauma as well as feelings of security and tranquility are key components of the healing process. And pendulation is the act of switching back and forth between different states and it relies on identifying those feelings.

When all these processes are completed properly, a person might be able to cope with his/her traumas and can see the change in their life. 

Parting Thoughts

There may be a greater link between our mind and the body than we realize which opens the door to possible treatment options like somatic experiencing. Reaching out to a mental health specialist with expertise in somatic trauma therapy might be helpful if you are trying to recover from any type of trauma. If you are seeking a therapy that tackles both the psychological and physical symptoms of trauma then give somatic therapy a try.

Patients who use somatic experiences can learn how to manage stress in their daily lives. Thus, in general, somatic therapy can help you in regaining life balance, reduce your suffering, and reclaim your life all over again. 


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