What happens in a Somatic Psychotherapy session?
This is a very common question. The fundamental difference between a traditional "talk therapy" session and a somatic psychotherapy session, is the incorporation and focus upon moment to moment awareness of what is happening in the body. Often we will begin with whatever is happening with you that day or in recent weeks. From here we transition from story telling into mindfulness, and a deeper awareness of what is unfolding inside of the body. It is from this point that new information regarding how we function in the world becomes available.
What does that mean?
Somatic psychotherapy is a holistic approach which incorporates a person's mind, body, spirit, and body into the process of healing. Patterns of perception, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors can affect a person's physical functioning, just as a person's diet, posture, and level of physical activity can affect a person's mental and emotional state. When we become aware of how disowned and unresolved aspects of the self contribute to habitual patterns of functioning in the world, we can improve our flexibility, reduce unconscious defense mechanisms, heal relational wounds, and build a more integrated sense of self.
Why is it important to focus on the body?
The word "soma" refers to the body. In somatic based psychotherapy, it is understood that the body is a container that holds all of our lived experiences. Unresolved trauma, depression, and anxiety can affect the body in many different ways. Chronic pain, muscle aches, excessive fatigue, and insomnia are just a few of the sensations that may be associated with concurrent mental health challenges. Exploring the psycho-emotional layer of these conditions may lead to greater self-awareness, self-regulation, and distress tolerance.