What is Somatic Therapy?
Underlying the various moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors for which we seek therapy are “implicit” emotional memories (or emotional learnings) that we are not consciously aware of. These emotional learnings were created and patterned into our memories in response to both minor and majortraumatic events throughout our lives (mostly early childhood traumas). They are the behind-the-scenes generators of our behaviors, emotions and thoughts in reaction to current situations and typically operate outside of our awareness. We end up being stuck in playback loops, finding the same situations playing out repeatedly in our lives, chasing a resolution that always seems intangible. These unconscious mechanisms manifest in a variety of symptoms and painful emotional responses to internal and external triggers throughout our day to day lives. The path to their resolution lies in accessing the feelings, images, sensations that were felt at the time of the original trauma and by allowing for a safe space to explore and express them inside the security of a therapeutic relationship.
Recent neuro-scientific research shows that not only the thinking (neocortex) part of the brain is involved in emotional responses, but also many other regions of the brain, namely the mid-line part of the brain and the right hemisphere are responsible for emotional networking. This means that just verbal therapy frequently does not reach deep, core emotional memories because they are stored in the non-verbal, non-rational parts of the brain. We need to access the feelings and sensations in the body behind our thoughts to connect to the underlying layer of raw emotions stored in the psyche. The body is our emotional container and when we experience trauma we disconnect from the body, compartmentalizing and separating the mind from the body, emotions from images and sensations.
Another reason why we use the body as the gateway to gain access to the psyche lies in the way in which we internalize emotions. In order to protect ourselves from the the "attack" that we expecting unconsciously (the original trauma response), our body creates an armor of tension not only in our muscle system, but also internally in our ligaments and connective tissue (fascia) that hold our organ systems in place. Over time this can lead to various health problems. After releasing that armor of tension, most of the people become aware of how "exhausted" and "tired" they feel and how much it costs their body to hold themselves "together." Just living with the unconscious expectation of danger consumes a huge amount of energy, creating the feelings of "lifelessness" and "numbness" that so many people report.
Somatic Therapy also helps to explore your core beliefs and judgements about yourself, the role you play in your relationships and your place in the world. Layer after layer, we release the emotional hang ups that hold the tension in the body and painful emotional triggers in the psyche. This allows for a feeling of spaciousness in oneself and a sense of aliveness in our lives . The goal is to start living our lives rather than acting as players in our own unconscious dramas.