Somatic therapy refers to the body-mind connection that some types of therapy offer. In these therapies, the senses are stimulated through movement of the body, touch, sound, and/or visuals.

Brain Activation

Somatic therapies have been studied with modern brain imaging techniques and the results have been very interesting. When studied with brain imaging technology, traditional talk therapy activates the cognitive areas of the brain. The outer “layer” of the brain forms thoughts, numbers, and interprets language, and music. This part of the brain was the most recent part in evolution to develop and is larger in humans than in many other animals.

Senses are key

Somatic therapies integrate body movement and the senses. These therapies activate a different part of the brain, the amygdala. The mid brain’s amygdala stores emotions, including trauma. This portion of the brain developed much earlier in evolution than the cognitive part of the brain. The amygdala responds to perceived threats in the environment and causes the body to run or fight the encountered threat. Traditional talk therapy does not interact with this part of the brain.

Finding release and relief

Somatic therapies are able to reach the amygdala and help the brain to process upsetting emotions and events. Doing so reduces the emotional “charge” carried with those memories. This means that a person with memories of an upsetting or traumatic event will be able to release the upsetting feelings associated with the memories. This may take one or it may take many sessions. The upsetting feelings can be released, resulting in the person feeling more calm and at peace. In many cases, the memory itself may fade significantly.

Somatic therapy I use in sessions

I use two types of somatic therapies in my practice: Somatic Tapping and Brainspotting. Hundreds of clients have benefited from tapping and now I train other therapists in how to use it. I’ve used tapping since 2009 and brainspotting since 2021. Both techniques have had many research studies conducted with consistent positive results. Researchers discovered tapping in the late 1970s, leading to many more published studies.

I use these techniques to help clients process upsetting events and all types of trauma. Both are very gentle techniques. Some of my clients have lived in war zones. Sex traffickers exploited other clients when they were children. Several have been in domestic violence situations. Many have been bullied, shamed, or have had other upsetting situations. These techniques are easy to use in the online setting and I lead clients through the process in a gentle way when they are ready to begin processing.

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