Somatic Therapy as a Mental Health Treatment 

Therapy is one of the best tools available to help support you on your mental health journey. When it comes to mental health, you want to find options and treatments that fit your specific needs best. Therapists work with individuals to set goals for themselves and to give them tools to heal and move forward. Somatic therapy has become a popular and effective tool in helping patients move past trauma. 

In somatic therapy, therapists work on the mind and body connection. Depending on the need of the patient, different physical movements may be used to help relieve the stress and tension associated with past trauma. Using somatic therapy is an excellent resource for mental health treatment as it provides both the cognitive form of therapy as well as release of physical stress as well. Somatic therapists use a variety of tools to support their patients in order to improve their overall mental health. 

Somatic Therapy Uses Brainspotting to Heal Past Trauma

When a person experiences trauma, the memory and emotions associated with that experience are stored in both the body and the brain. In order to move past the trauma, it is imperative to release both the memory of the trauma as well as the physical reaction associated with it. 

The problem becomes that sometimes a patient is not even aware of their physical response when processing a past trauma. It has likely been a coping mechanism to block out the pain associated with the event. This is where somatic trauma therapy comes into play and specifically a tool used called brainspotting. 

Brainspotting is when you recall a certain event or experience in therapy and the therapist watches your eye movement while you are speaking. Using eye movement as a guide to recognize trauma, the therapist can help release some of the negative emotions and physical responses once the moments from the memory that were most painful are targeted. 

As soon as the therapist notices certain eye movements, they will have the patient pause and reflect on what they are feeling. Oftentimes a patient isn’t even aware they are making the eye movements and once they pause they are able to process all of the different emotions that they are feeling. Brainspotting has proven to work especially well with patients dealing with PTSD. 

Somatic Therapy Encourages an Emotional Release 

If you have ever gone to therapy, you have probably had a therapist tell you it is important to let your emotions out and not to stifle them. While this is true and important in mental health treatment, it is not always the easiest thing to do. Working with a therapist means being intentional about giving the mind and body space to allow for the emotional release the body needs to heal. Committing to working with a therapist is a great option to allow time and space for an emotional release which will in turn improve your overall mental health and well being. 

During a somatic therapy session, a therapist may ask you to use a physical response such as using a stress ball or even punching a pillow to let some of the emotions associated with your trauma be released. You may even be asked which movement feels best to you to release an emotion such as anger or sadness. As you are working through trauma, your therapist will work with you to figure out what emotional release options work best for you and your comfort level. 

Mind and Body Connection is A Priority During A Somatic Therapy Session

There is a reason that taking deep breaths is something that is often used as a coping tool in stressful situations. When the body is stressed, breathing can become shallow which in turn builds tension and increases the stress hormone cortisol. Taking deep breaths helps release both mental and physical stress and somatic therapists use this simple tool often during sessions. When you slow your breath, you become more aware of the sensations in your body which is one of the main goals during a somatic therapy session. 

Somatic therapists also use yoga as a tool to help with awareness of one’s body and the tension it is holding. Research has shown that using yoga as a tool for healing trauma is one of the best ways to improve an individual’s mental and physical health combined. Sometimes therapists may even have their patients stand in a certain yoga pose while talking to help target certain tension areas in the body. 

Somatic Therapy Involves Physical Movement and Touch

Because somatic therapy is rooted in the connection between mind and body, many somatic therapists will have their clients move around the room during therapy. Some therapists even offer massage as an option to help focus on certain areas of the body that are holding tension from past traumatic events. One of the things that a somatic therapist prioritizes first is ensuring that the client feels safe before beginning any movement or physical work. Therapists work to build a relationship with their patients first to help the patient feel safe and secure in their treatment. 

If you have ever had a massage before, you know that at the end of the session your body is likely the most relaxed it has been in a long time. Using that same momentum, a somatic therapist works to help relax both your mind and body when using massage as a tool during a therapy session. 

It can be challenging to relive past trauma and stress, but in order to heal and move forward it has to happen. Because each individual is unique with their own set of unique experiences, therapists work to meet an individual patient’s needs with a variety of tools. Working with a somatic therapist is a great option to help improve your mental health as they are trained in supporting and guiding patients through past trauma using the body’s physical response as a guide for healing.