Somatic refers to the body. In somatic psychotherapy, we utilize curiosity and mindfulness to develop an awareness of the moment-to-moment experience of our bodies from within. Every experience we have, every relationship, every emotion is felt and held in the body.
From our earliest interactions with our environments, each of us finds creative ways to survive in difficult or painful situations. These adaptations show up in the body and become our go-to responses in everyday life. Many of us find that some of these patterns, brilliant and adaptive as they once were, no longer serve us or fit our current circumstances and relationships. Working with the body allows us to become aware of old patterns, and to find new resources to add flexibility and creativity to the way we respond to the world around us.
There are many ways of working somatically, but my clinical work combines traditional talk therapy with mindfulness and experimentation with the body, which often includes movement. These experiments may include explorations of habitual postures, impulses, or defensive movements that were not able to happen in traumatic circumstances.
The experience of mindfully tracking our body’s present experience can be instrumental in building tolerance for emotions and sensations that might seem overwhelming, and helps us to build stronger connections between the reactive and the reasoning or meaning-making parts of the brain. With this enhanced capacity, we can live with flexibility and presence, rather than feel hijacked by emotional reactivity.