‘Soma’ is a Greek word meaning ‘the body’. In somatic psychotherapy, traditional talk therapy is integrated with body awareness to work deeply with present and past experiences. Somatic psychotherapists are trained to use therapeutic touch, if, and when, it is appropriate to do so, based on each individual client’s history and needs.
Somatic psychotherapy is grounded in the belief that mind (thought), soma (body) and psyche (soul) form a single holistic entity. Thoughts, emotions and bodily experiences are understood as inter-functioning aspects of a person’s whole being. This holistic form of treatment offers a more profound way of working together that can help deepen a sense of connection to oneself and to others.
As well as working verbally in the relationship with the client, somatic psychotherapists are trained to engage directly with the client’s dynamic bodily experiences. This includes noticing patterns of breathing, posture, sensations, movements, as well as working with body image, metaphor and through appropriate therapeutic touch when, or if, appropriate.
Body-oriented psychotherapy can be used to facilitate exploration and expression and to develop self-awareness and self-regulation. Somatic psychotherapy can improve body sensing, relieve stress, balance the nervous system, mobilise posture, explore patterns of contraction and expansion and foster a sense of vitality, aliveness and movement.
Psychotherapy can soothe anger and distress, celebrate joys and achievements, unravel and ease shame, make space for grief, and help build tolerance for changing states of being. It can enhance a person’s resilience in the face of adversity and promote their ability to trust and engage with others.