While the body and mind represent two separate entities, they are also so intricately connected as to be virtually one. A wise practitioner does not seek to treat one without factoring in the other. For that matter, no condition impacts solely the body or the mind. Case in point: trauma. When enduring a harrowing experience, the brain can be heavily affected. Simultaneously, the traumatic event also takes a physical toll.

This is where somatic therapy can play an important. A body-centered therapeutic approach, somatic therapy can consist of modalities like deep breathing, dance, massage, and yoga. It has fast become an effective choice when treating someone struggling with trauma.

How Does Trauma Impact Our Bodies?

A traumatic experience puts our bodies in a state of high alert. Typically referred to as “fight or flight,” this response sets us up to survive and stays that way until the threat is gone. Another variation of this automatic reaction is called “freeze” and it lives up to its name. If danger strikes and escape seems unlikely, it can short-circuit, well, everything — especially in children.

Unless the experience is properly processed and resolved, we can get stuck in the stress response. Our minds and bodies cannot discern what is and isn’t safe. In any kind of stress response, your body will react to your emotions. When someone gets stuck in this state, they run the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In other words, the body displays symptoms of trauma even if no risk is present.

Some of those physical symptoms include sweating, dizziness, aches and pains (including headaches) without an obvious cause, trembling, low energy, digestive disturbances, and blurry vision. Left unchecked, signs like this can escalate into full-blown problems of their own

photo of a therapist with their client in a session

How Does Somatic Therapy Work and Why Is It Effective For Trauma?

The basic idea is to identify how emotional trauma manifests as physical discomfort.

Relieving that discomfort while working to process trauma and PTSD is a powerful combination.  As long as the bodily sensations remain, it remains more difficult to resolve the emotional components. Utilizing tactics like those listed above (yoga, etc.) serves the dual purpose of decreasing physical and psychological symptoms.

  • Resourcing: Another way that trauma can make you feel stuck is how your mind prioritizes negative memories. To counter this trend, SE resourcing guides you to identify positive thoughts to focus on instead. With the help of your therapist, you can become more grounded when living in this more balanced state.
  • Titration: Once the resourcing process has kicked in, you are ready to tackle the trauma more directly. Titration involves you connecting the bodily sensations with what started them. Making these associations empowers you to decide what feels more urgent to work on.
  • Pendulation: During titration, the negative memories can bring you to a place of mental and physical discomfort. That’s when your therapist can introduce the positive thoughts you stockpiled during resourcing. This is a calming tactic you will eventually use on yourself.

. Not only can these approaches be valuable in treating trauma, they can help us better understand what to look for when any type of symptom arises. The first step toward these benefits is to find out if this is a good option for you. At my practice, there are may ways we can implement somatic therapy into your sessions. I offer sensorimotor psychotherapy, as well as neurofeedback and EMDR.

If you want to learn more about my services and how I can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about trauma therapy.