Mental health is one of the most sensitive and most talked-about topics worldwide. Many people go through different mental struggles, and not everyone addresses them properly. However, there are all sorts of treatments for mental illnesses. One of them is somatic experiencing therapy.
In this article, we will discuss what somatic therapy is and the benefits one can get from it. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what somatic therapy is and whether it can be beneficial for you.
What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy is a form of body-oriented psychotherapy that focuses on the mind-body connection. It emphasizes the importance of the body in the healing process. This type of therapy helps people become more aware of their bodies and how they feel in order to improve their mental health.
Types of Somatic Experiencing Exercises
There are different ways one can practice somatic therapy. Some of those somatic experiencing exercises include:
1. Breath-work exercise
This exercise includes deep breathing and getting in touch with different parts of your body as you inhale and exhale – from top to bottom – for a few minutes. It helps people relax, clear their thoughts, and feel grounded again after being overwhelmed by stress.
2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
In this exercise, clients focus on the present situation while making side-to-side eye movements or following an object’s movement with their eyes at the same time. This method is used to help people process traumatic memories so they can become desensitized with them. After 30 sessions, 80% of people with PTSD experience a complete recovery.
3. Energy release
Energy release involves tapping or slapping different parts of your body in order to help you achieve a deep sense of calm and relaxation. This exercise helps clients relieve anxiety, stress, and negative emotions. Energy release can help improve sleep quality as well.
4. Somatic recapitulation
In this method, clients re-live distressing traumatic memories while applying various coping skills they learned from their therapist before reaching the end goal – which is accepting their experiences instead of avoiding them. When past events are processed and revisited without experiencing distress again, it keeps intrusive thoughts away for good.
5. Movement exercises
There are all sorts of movement exercises that can be used in somatic therapy. Yoga, for example, is a form of moving meditation that helps people connect with their bodies and find stillness within. Tai chi and Qigong are also practices that focus on body movements that can improve mental health.
6. Touch therapies
Massage, cranial-sacral therapy, and Reiki are some types of touch therapies that can be used in somatic therapy. They help release tension in the body, reduce stress levels, and promote relaxation. These therapies can also help improve sleep quality and relieve pain.
7. Interactive guided visualization
This exercise involves guided visualization where clients are asked to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a peaceful and calming place. The therapist will then guide them through the experience and help them explore different parts of the imaginary world they created. This type of visualization helps people relax, reduce stress, and alleviate anxiety.
7 Reasons to Try Experiencing Somatic Therapy
Some benefits of somatic therapy include:
1. Increased awareness of the body
One of the main goals of somatic therapy is to help people become more aware of their bodies. This includes becoming aware of how they feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. When people are more aware of their bodies, they are able to better understand what they are feeling and recognize negative feelings before they reach a tipping point.
2. Reduces emotional pain
When people use somatic therapy, they are able to release the emotional pain that they have locked away inside them. Most mental health issues begin as emotional issues. If these emotions are locked away, it will continue to affect the individual mentally and emotionally until it is released in an unhealthy way (like self-harm or drug abuse). Once the emotions are expressed through somatic therapy, individuals can resolve their mental health issues more easily.
3. Increases calmness
Somatic therapists believe that most mental illnesses come from stored up stress, which can create anxiety and other related symptoms. By helping clients become aware of how their bodies feel, they are able to release the tension and calm down.
4. Aids in self-discovery
One of the great things about somatic therapy is that it aids in self-discovery. Through this type of therapy, people can learn more about themselves and why they do the things they do. This can be beneficial for those who want to change their behaviors or want to understand themselves better.
5. Promotes relaxation
Along with calming down the mind and body, somatic therapy also promotes relaxation. When people are relaxed, they are less likely to experience anxiety or stress. This can be helpful for those who have a hard time relaxing on their own.
6. Helps connect the body and mind
When people are able to connect their mind and body, they are better able to accept the things that have happened to them. This can help individuals overcome traumas or other significant events in their life.
7. Better sexual experiences
One of the lesser-known benefits of somatic therapy is that it helps improve sexual relationships. When an individual understands how their body works and what feels good, they will be more likely to communicate with their partner about it, which can make for a much better relationship both mentally and physically.
What happens in a somatic experiencing session?
Somatic experiencing is a type of touch therapy that uses movement, strength, and breath.
Most sessions begin with an intake interview where the client can explain how they’ve been feeling, including any physical pain they are experiencing, as well as their history with therapists or other mental health professionals. After that, the therapist will work with the client to develop a treatment plan tailored specifically to them. They will also use this time to help clients become more aware of their bodies by using different types of touch therapies throughout the session.
While there are many benefits to somatic therapy, it is important for people who want to try it to understand that it is not right for everyone.
Somatic therapy is used by many therapists around the world because it has been proven effective in helping treat mental illnesses. If you are struggling with your mental health or are unhappy with yourself, you can consider somatic therapy.