Soma means body. The tissues of the body. Somatic experiences are the felt experience in the physical body. We feel sensations and have body behaviour. That language is the body speaking.
Somatic therapy is a form of body psychotherapy which examines the traditional psychological approaches and also works with the body and its experience. If we talk about something or remember then we may experience sensations, images, physical body effects (like heart racing, flushed face), emotions and perhaps meaning. It is important to work with both the cognitive processing and the sensory integration - so working to process not only the thoughts but how they play out in the body. This may be necessary to change how the nervous system might respond and avoid trauma-based fight-flight-freeze responses which might be causing pain, illness or relationship/life difficulties.
How we allow the sensations and emotions to "live" and flow through the body is important. Early years development, attachment to caregiver, parenting, abuse, neglect, generational patterns of parenting or overwhelm from events in later life can disturb how we process emotions.
Anything which overwhelms our nervous systems ability to cope will lead to problems. Working with mind and body together can allow lasting changes at many levels - resolving chronic illness, pain, mental health difficulties, relational difficulties, deep resolution of grief and much more.
How might a somatic session look?
Everyone is unique but the session will flow naturally and slowly. Generally, we will encourage a slowing down in order that the felt sense is available to you. Feeling subtle changes within as we talk or even sit together. Space and distance can be enough to create changes for people - especially if physical boundaries have been breached. Movement, sounds and breathwork can be included. Touch is often important, in a very appropriate skilled way to help regulate and manage difficult sensations. It really is hard to explain how far and wide this work can reach. A former patient of mine wrote a beautiful poem early on in her journey that describes her experience eloquently.
Throughout my life feeling taut
With much anxiety, feeling fraught.
The pain grew such it made me ill,
rarely curable with a pill.
Inside my body tension grows,
within the muscles head to toes.
Building during many years,
physical signs of buried fears.
For Rodger's explanation on Somatic Therapy, watch the video below...