Many different approaches would be considered as coming under the heading of Somatic Psychotherapy. Delyse have over 6 years training in Somatic Transformation with Sharon Stanley and is a Certified ST Practitioner. This approach gently processes and releases traumatic energy held in the body. There is an emphasis on co-regulating intense emotion through an attuned, resonant and empathic intersubjective relationship. Somatic Transformation seeks to build resilience and secure attachment as trauma is healed, creating increased aliveness through embodiment.
In these ways Somatic Psychotherapy is:
- embodied (working with the body and being centered in the body)
- holistic (includes all aspects of a person, mind, body, spirit)
- collaborative (seeks to involve, invite and follow clients participation in the process)
- curious ( open to what emerges as we pay attention to you as a unique individual).
Main Features of a Somatic Approach
- Focusing on sensations/movement/energy/feelings in the body begins to tease apart the bound up energy held from the effects of trauma. Sensations lead us to the wisdom of the body and to releasing the trauma. The story of your body allows us to access the ways in which trauma affects your nervous system. We work with what is happening in the present moment which puts us in touch with those aspects of your experience that are interfering with your life now.
- It is important for most people to tell the story of what has happened to them and by working with the body we integrate and release the story on all levels.
- Focusing on body sensations and awareness has to be done in a manageable and tolerable way. For a lot of people, it can be very uncomfortable to focus on the body, so we need to go at your pace and create safety. Through your relationship with a therapist, and building resources and regulation of the nervous system, you will over time become comfortable with this focus.
- Regulation is the way in which we stay in our window of tolerance. Through regulating your nervous system you can come out of being too activated or immobilized (cut off, dissociated, tuned out). As you build resources, you will develop tools to keep grounded.
- Resources are anything that helps you stay regulated (comfortable in our body and feelings). Some examples may be; relationship with your therapist/others, soothing gestures, anything that grounds you, music, images, pleasant feelings in your body, movement. Building resources particular to you is one of the focuses in therapy.
- The window of tolerance is the place where you can stay with your experience even if it is painful without being overwhelmed and need to cut off from it in some way. When you do this ‘energy’ (often experienced as emotion) can flow through you and transform.
- Being activated means that your fight/flight response in your nervous system has become energized. Heart beats faster, you may feel heat through your body, breathing becomes shallow, body tenses, feelings of anxiety – these are the common signs. Feeling overwhelmed by these sensations and emotions is when our nervous system is over-activated. Often therapy is focused on regulation to bring down this over-activation into the window of tolerance.
- When you are immobilized with fear you have little response to the world around you, you have retreated, and there is a sense of giving up as things become overwhelming. In this state, it’s hard to access feelings/sensations, feel ‘here,’ connect with others, take action in your life. You might feel spacey or unfeeling and cold. When this happens therapy is focused on regulation that brings up the under-activation into the window of tolerance.
For more information read Dissociation and trauma.