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Woman by the Water

Somatic Psychotherapy

What is Somatic Psychotherapy? 

Somatic Psychotherapy examines your mind, body, spirit and emotions. Past traumas can become trapped in or expressed through your body, especially those experienced during your earliest childhood. Somatic psychotherapy is uniquely able to unlock and release traumas that came before you had words or even visual memories. It is also very helpful for gently releasing traumas or emotions that for one reason or another, you may have suppressed.  

Somatic Psychotherapy (also known as Body Psychotherapy) is an approach that integrates current research in neuroscience, body awareness practices from both Eastern and Western cultures, and aspects of Gestalt, Psychodynamic, Relational, and Humanistic therapy traditions. 

This holistic model works with the whole person, body and mind, thinking, feeling, and sensing. That means that, at times, the focus will be on your experience at the moment rather than content about a particular recent or past stressor.

In addition to exploring thoughts and feelings, as in any therapy, a somatic psychotherapist might also help you explore gestures, bodily tension, and particular physical sensations through mindful awareness, movement, or touch. At times, the focus will be on paying attention to your experience at the moment rather than reflecting on past traumas or stressors. Often this guided compassionate awareness combined with other somatic practices will gently unlock and release long-held restrictions, pain or emotion. 

With advances in neuroscience and understanding of how the body stores emotion, there has been an explosion of developments in approaches to somatic psychotherapy. While the approaches differ, they have in common a focus on understanding the relationship between physical sensations and experiences and psychological health. Some of the terms you may hear are names for these different approaches, and may include: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy; Somatic Internal Family Systems Therapy (SIFS); Somatic Experiencing Therapy, among others. 

Who is Somatic Psychotherapy for? 

Somatic Therapy is a powerful technique when used alongside traditional talk therapy. It is beneficial when working with: 

  • anxiety 

  • depression 

  • grief 

  • self-esteem 

  • Trauma (including very early childhood trauma as well as ancestral or cultural trauma) 

  • relationship concerns 

  • emotional balance issues 

Example of questions you might be asked during a session

  • What are you noticing in your body? 

  • Are you cut off from particular emotions?   

  • How and where is this cutoff occurring in your body? 

  • Are you overwhelmed by specific emotions?  

  • Are there any places of tension or holding in your body that might be related to experiences you have had in the past or difficulties you are having in your life now? 

The newest associate to join the Lesley Hartman & Associates Inc. team Azra Poe is a Somatic Psychotherapist. Read their bio here>> 


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