somatic therapy

Somatic Therapy

Somatic Therapy - An overview and history

Getting rid of a trauma or an emotional block is a difficult journey. We carry the imprints of our past traumas, manifesting as tension, pain, and emotional distress. The pursuit of healing from post-traumatic stress disorder requires looking within ourselves and connecting with our bodies. Amidst the array of therapeutic approaches, somatic therapy stands out as a particularly effective mode of addressing our traumas' physical and psychological components. This unique therapy incorporates physical movement to heal the body and mind. By focusing on the connection between physical and emotional states, somatic therapy helps you identify the patterns of tension and blockages stored in the body. You can address these patterns and develop healthier coping strategies with this awareness. In this blog post, we'll uncover various aspects of somatic therapy and somatic therapy techniques. We’ll also discuss how somatic therapy can benefit you. So, let's dive into it.

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is a type of body-centered psychotherapy. It is derived from the theory of somatic psychology. This holistic approach seeks to bring awareness of bodily sensations and movements into the therapeutic process through various physical therapies. It connects the psychological and physical dimensions of the individual. This therapy can help you become more mindful and aware of your body, leading to a better appreciation of your physical being. Unlike talk therapy, somatic therapy employs various techniques to help individuals access and engage with their body's innate intelligence. These techniques may include gentle movement exercises, bioenergetic exercises, breathwork, guided imagery, and yoga. Combining these elements, a somatic therapist can help individuals become more connected to their body and its sensations. By working with the body, somatic therapy aims to release these stored tensions and posttraumatic stress disorder, helping you restore balance and wholeness within yourself.

History and Modalities of Somatic Therapy

Development of The Concept of Somatic Therapy By Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian psychoanalyst, is considered one of the early pioneers of somatic therapy. He made significant contributions to the development and establishment of somatic therapy. He believed human impulses could be sought to establish a psychodynamic approach incorporating the physical body. Reich investigated the role of the body in psychotherapy. He also believed that our repressed emotions are connected to physical manifestations such as muscle tension, which can be released through physical movement. Despite his initial contribution, somatic therapy was largely criticized and overlooked.

Contribution of Alexander Lowen

Alexander Lowen, an American psychotherapist, is also considered a significant contributor to the development of somatic therapy. He developed bioenergetics, a form of somatic therapy. Lowen integrated principles from Wilhelm Reich's work into his approach and emphasized the connection between the body and emotions. Bioenergetics aims to increase the individual's awareness of their body and how tension and emotional states are connected.

Development of Feldenkrais Method by Moshe Feldenkrais

Moshe Feldenkrais developed the Feldenkrais Method. It is a body-oriented therapy that uses movement to increase awareness of the body's organization. It boosts the vitality and coordination of the body and helps improves the well-being of the individual. Feldenkrais believed that motor skills, martial arts, and biomechanics are crucial to uncovering the body's potential for development and adaptation. It enables individuals to become aware of their bodily patterns and develop more balanced and efficient ways of moving. This innovative approach focuses on the nervous system and its effects on the body's physical, mental, and emotional states. It helps people to become aware of how they can move in a more balanced and efficient way. Thus, Feldenkrais Method benefits those seeking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Work of Thomas Hanna

One of the renowned schools of somatics was created by Thomas Hanna. He introduced the concept of "Somatics" in the 1970s. He proposed that sensory motor amnesia is a major cause of chronic pain. Sensory motor amnesia is a condition in which the body stops receiving or responding to sensory input from muscles and joints. This disconnect between the brain and body can result in tension, pain, and decreased performance. Hanna suggested that mindfulness and vigorous controlled movement can restore communication between the brain and body. He believed that with this approach, a sufferer of chronic pain could reconnect their mind and body, relieving tension and physical pain.

Hakomi Method by Ron Kurtz

Ron Kurtz created the Hakomi Method in the late 1970s. This somatic psychotherapy uses mindfulness to explore and work with the individual's core beliefs. This method does not involve physical movements. Therapists use body-mind dialogue to help patients become aware of their bodily sensations, experience, and behaviors. The Hakomi Method uses the body as a window to explore the unconscious self. The therapists and the patient work with mindfulness and curiosity to uncover what triggers core beliefs and how they affect the individual's life.

Creation of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy by Dr. Pat Ogden

Dr. Pat Ogden is a co-founder of the Hakomi method and the founder of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. During her 45-year career, she worked with various chronic pain and trauma patients. She integrates psychotherapy and somatic therapy to treat her clients. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a somatic therapy rooted in neuroscience, attachment, and trauma theory. This approach helps clients explore the unconscious habits and behaviors that they have stored in their bodies. By becoming aware of psychological and physical sensations as well as responses to emotions, the patient learns to alter the maladaptive response. This theory has shown significant improvement in patients' attitudes.

Body-Mind Centering® Approach by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen is the founder of the Body-Mind Centering® approach and a somatic educator. This experimental study is used to comprehend how your body expresses your mind and mind expresses your body. It delves into the influence of emotions on bodily sensations and how these sensations can affect behavior and life in general. This approach is used in dance, bodywork, yoga, and physical therapy. It is also used in psychotherapy, child development, meditation, and various body-mind disciplines. Through this approach, clients become conscious of their thoughts and feelings as they move through different body positions.

Somatic Experiencing by Dr. Peter Levine

Dr. Peter Levine is the creator of Somatic Experiencing, a therapy based on neurobiology and trauma theory. This approach helps clients process, integrate, and heal any unprocessed trauma stored in the nervous system. Through somatic experiencing therapy, clients learn to recognize when they feel overwhelmed or threatened by stimuli and become aware of their body's responses to those feelings. This therapy effectively treats post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and other trauma-related issues. It has been found to be particularly beneficial for managing anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues. Peter Levine believed that we stay stuck in various parts of our life due to traumatic experiences that remain unprocessed. Somatic experiencing therapy orients the energy of the body in a more balanced and healthy direction.

Work on Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology by Dr. Gabor Mate

Dr. Mate discloses the essential role of emotions in physical and psychological health. He has developed a powerful system for recognizing the underlying causes of various chronic disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and various types of cancer. He explores that a single factor does not cause disease. Many interacting factors are involved, such as life circumstances, genetic predisposition, emotional disposition, and biological processes. According to Dr. Mate, stress-disease techniques focus on connecting psychological and physical disorders. He believes this approach encourages people to take responsibility for their health and well-being, allowing them to make changes that can result in profound benefits.

Creation of NeuroAffective Touch Approach by Dr. Aline LaPierre

NeuroAffective Touch approach is a somatic psychotherapeutic method developed by Dr. Aline LaPierre. This approach emphasizes the integration of the use of therapeutic, somatic therapy, and non-verbal communication. This approach aims to help individuals build a feeling of safety and self-regulation, which in turn leads them to feel more empowered in their lives. The NeuroAffective Touch technique encourages individuals to focus on body sensations and feelings as a way to process emotions and trauma. This approach helps relieve patients by encouraging non-verbal communication through nurturing, support, and connection. It also includes building a trusting relationship with patients, identifying and addressing their requirements, and taking a holistic approach to therapy.

Contribution of Manuela Mishke Reeds on Somatic Therapy

Manuela Mishke Reeds help numerous torture survivors through her work on somatic therapy. Her approach focuses primarily on the body, particularly how physical symptoms can be linked to psychological and emotional issues. She discovered breathing patterns and the body's expression. She explores how fear and healing power co-exist in our body and how the attunement of body sensations can promote self-awareness and self-regulation. Reed learn to use the innate ability of the body to heal itself. She encourages individuals to be aware of the body's language and use it to express emotions, gain insights, and create a sense of physical safety.

Different Somatic Therapy Techniques

Embarking on a journey of self-discovery and healing can lead to profound transformation. Somatic therapies focus on the body-mind connection and recognize the importance of physical sensations in expressing processing, and healing emotions. Here is an overview of some common somatic therapy techniques:

Body Awareness

This technique encourages individuals to practice mindful awareness of their bodies and emotions. It helps patients recognize their feelings, sensations, and patterns to better understand how physical and emotional states are interconnected. By deepening our body awareness, you become more attuned to the signals and messages your bodies communicate, fostering a greater understanding of yourselves. It involves releasing stress and tension from the body and mind, as well as learning to embrace and honor oneself.


Breathwork techniques focus on conscious regulation and manipulation of the breath. By engaging in intentional breathing exercises, you can influence our physiological and emotional states. Breathwork practices can calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety, increase energy, and enhance mental clarity. This technique is a powerful tool for emotional transformation and self-healing. By focusing on our breathing, you become more aware of our physical and emotional sensations. It aims to connect body and mind and offers insight into your emotions and nervous system.

Yoga and Movement

Yoga and other forms of movement can be incredibly helpful in somatic therapy. By engaging in physical activities, you can deepen your awareness of your body and become more in touch with your physical and emotional needs. Yoga, dance, Tai Chi, and QiGong are all forms of somatic therapy offering the potential for healing and self-discovery. These physical practices can help release stress, reduce pain and tension, and restore the balance between body and mind.


Grounding is a technique that helps connect your body and the earth by focusing on the physical sensations of being connected to the ground. This practice can help restore balance, reduce stress, and promote feelings of security and calm. It can also help you become more mindful and aware of your body and its needs. It pulls away negative energy and brings in positive, calming energy. You can practice grounding by putting your hands in water, feeling the grass on your feet, or walking in nature. It is a powerful tool for calming the nervous system and reducing anxiety.


Pendulation is a somatic therapy technique oscillating between sensations of safety and discomfort, ease and tension. A therapist takes you from a relaxing condition to a state that feels similar to your anxious state. This technique enables you to release trapped energy in the body. You might feel discomfort while releasing the energy, but after the process, you can feel a sense of calmness and relaxation. The therapist guides you to return to your relaxed state. It helps build resilience and teaches the patient to move through complex sensations and emotions without becoming overwhelmed. Pendulation can also help reduce physical symptoms such as pain and tension.


A titration is a gentle approach to processing traumatic experiences. It involves breaking down overwhelming experiences into smaller, more manageable parts and exploring them safely and contained. By titrating the intensity of the experience, individuals can gradually release and integrate traumatic material without becoming overwhelmed. This technique allows for a more gentle and sustainable healing process.


Resourcing involves cultivating inner and outer resources that provide support, safety, and nourishment during the therapeutic process. It involves connecting to various sources of comfort and security. It includes anything from the use of comforting words, objects, or other people. Resourcing helps individuals to build mental health, self-regulation, and the capacity for healthy relationships.


Sequencing involves working with the body and mind to move through difficult emotions, sensations, and thoughts at a comfortable pace. This technique helps individuals find a path through emotional and physical pain without becoming overwhelmed. It can help to identify patterns that are causing distress and provide a way to release them in a safe and contained environment. The therapist guides the individual through the process, allowing them to go at their own pace and giving them permission to pause along the way.

Benefits of Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy can provide individuals with the tools to process emotions and memories in a safe, contained environment. Here are some common advantages of somatic therapy:

Relieving Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

Somatic therapy offers an effective treatment for PTSD. It can help to reduce the intensity of symptoms without overwhelming the individual. Somatic therapy provides a safe space to explore and release traumatic memories without fear of re-traumatization. Various techniques, including breathwork, grounding techniques, and body movement, can help to manage the intensity of traumatic memories. These techniques help individuals release muscular tension, reduce stress levels, and restore a sense of calm and balance.

Relieving Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can be debilitating and negatively impact various aspects of our lives. Though traditional approaches may provide temporary relief, somatic therapy offers individuals a more sustainable approach. Somatic therapy emphasizes cultivating a deeper understanding of the body's sensations, movements, and postures. By fostering body awareness, individuals can develop a greater sensitivity to the signals of pain, enabling them to respond proactively. By learning to relax and release tension in the body, individuals can effectively manage the physical and emotional strain associated with chronic pain.

Enhanced Self-Awareness

Somatic therapy encourages individuals to cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves by exploring the messages and wisdom. By paying attention to bodily sensations, emotions, and patterns of behavior, individuals can gain crucial insights into their physical and mental states. This awareness helps individuals to make more informed decisions regarding their health and well-being. It heightened self-awareness empowers individuals to make conscious choices and create positive change in their lives.

Increased Resilience and Empowerment

Somatic therapy cultivates resilience by helping individuals build a stronger mind-body connection. By learning to recognize and respond to internal cues, individuals can become better equipped to withstand stress and manage challenges more effectively. This strengthened connection also increases our sense of resilience and empowerment, enabling us to make informed decisions about our health and our lives.


Somatic therapy offers a powerful and holistic approach to healing and personal transformation. It allows individuals to tap into their innate capacity for self-regulation and healing. It encourages the exploration and release of physical tension, trauma, and other unresolved emotions. It helps foster a deeper sense of self-awareness and resilience. It also serves as a gateway to self-discovery, growth, and empowerment. By engaging with this powerful therapeutic modality, individuals can unlock their true potential and create lasting change in their lives. So, if you are looking to create positive changes in your life, give somatic therapy a try. It may be the transformative intervention you need.


What do they do in somatic therapy?

Somatic therapy is a practice that helps individuals reconnect with their bodies and cultivate self-awareness. It employs physical therapies, such as breathing, movement, meditation, and mindfulness, to explore physical tension, emotional dynamics, and unresolved issues.

What are the 4 somatic practices?

The four main somatic practices are breathwork, movement (including guided stretching), meditation, and mindfulness. Each of these modalities serves to cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness while also helping to release physical tension and emotions held in the body.

Is EMDR the same as somatic therapy?

EMDR is a type of somatic therapy, but it is not the same as somatic therapy. EMDR is a body psychotherapy technique that focuses on resolving trauma and other psychological issues through targeted eye movements and other forms of bilateral stimulation.

Is somatic therapy legitimate?

Yes, somatic therapy is a legitimate form of treatment. This trauma therapy is backed by research and evidence and can be a powerful tool for achieving lasting changes. It is also an effective way to foster a sense of self-awareness and resilience.

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