The word somatic means “living body” in the ancient Greek. The field of somatic psychology focuses on the intricate relationship between our bodies and our minds—and with the many ways that our bodies display our psychological and emotional histories, past traumas, and interpersonal dynamics. Somatic psychology practitioners recognize that past traumatic experiences are often reflected in body language, posture, and mannerisms and may lead to physical symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches, digestive or immune problems, hormonal disruptions, sexual dysfunction, and other neurological or physical symptoms later in life. In that sense, somatic psychology practitioners believe that the body often “speaks” for us, even though we may have forgotten the painful memories or wish we could. ~ L Kessler
Somatic psychology practitioners may use a combination of both traditional psychotherapy and various “body-focused” therapies such as breath, movement, body awareness, and nonverbal communication to help clients draw on the intelligence of their body in the process of personal growth and change. This holistic mind-body approach has been shown particularly effective for helping clients coping with post traumatic stress (PTSD) or other trauma, but it is also used successfully for more common mental and emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, grief, relationship issues, and other life challenges.
As recent developments in neuroscience have demonstrated the fundamental connection between mind and body, Somatic Psychology has quickly gained mainstream acceptance, and Somatic Experiencing is probably one of the most effective of all trauma therapies. Created by Peter Levine, a psychologist who studied the survival responses in wild prey animals, Somatic Experiencing is gentle and thorough in its ability to melt away the effects of the survival response that remains after an overwhelming experience. This neurological remnant is the trauma that manifests in the body years, if not decades, after the event that triggered it.
His work has been validated and supported by the latest in neurological mapping and imaging techniques.