Somatic Therapy (Body Centered)

Somatic therapy, also sometimes known as body-centered therapy, refers to approaches that integrate a client’s physical body into the therapeutic process. Somatic therapy focuses on the mind-body connection and is founded on the belief that viewing the mind and body as one entity is essential to the therapeutic process. Somatic therapy practitioners will typically integrate elements of talk therapy with therapeutic body techniques to provide holistic healing. Somatic therapy is particularly helpful for those trying to cope with abuse or trauma, but it is also used to treat issues including anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, grief, or addiction, among others. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s somatic therapy experts today.

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What does somatic therapy mean and look like? Implicit memories (the ones without a movie in our head) are stored in the body keep people stuck. These memories can be released and accessed to heal the body and the mind with or without the story being shared or even touched. Together we bring on regulation, safety, with a compassionate witness to have a felt sense of being seen, heard and understood. Internalizing the safety into your body is the thrive of health.

— Karen Lucas, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

Somatic psychotherapy integrates body-based inquiry and mindfulness into traditional talk therapy. Much of our subconscious emotional experience manifests as physical tension and holding patterns. “Feelings” are literally physical manifestations of the brain and nervous system’s response to emotional stimuli. Through developing a cognitive understanding of the mind-body connection, we find manageable ways to face challenges and cultivate deeper compassion for ourselves and others.

— Emma Stern, Counselor

Body-Centered therapy operates from the belief that emotional issues (e.g. stress, trauma, anxiety, grief, depression) manifest as physical symptoms and that healing occurs when the mind-body connection is strengthened. Somatic therapy supports clients in connecting to “the messages of the body” in order to provide deep understanding, healing, and transformation.

— Lalo Rivera, Licensed Professional Counselor in San Antonio, TX

Somatic Therapy is talk therapy enhanced through breath work, body awareness, movement, & touch. This orientation was established in the 1930s, is evidence-based, neuroscience-approved, & trauma-informed. I have a master's degree in somatic counseling from Naropa University, & I am a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) through the International Somatic Movement Education & Therapy Association (ISMETA).

— Anneva NK Garner, Counselor in Longmont, CO

In addition to working with thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, we are learning more and more that the body and nervous system, particularly when we are talking about trauma and overwhelming or chronic stress, plays a central role in our well being. This is why I integrate Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing into all of my work.

— Christo Brehm, Psychotherapist in Eugene, OR

Trauma disrupts healthy adaptive functioning and causes dysfunction in many areas of life. Somatic therapy focuses on releasing stress from the nervous system, regulating your nervous system to safety, ease and well-being. Benefits include reduced physical and emotional discomfort and distress, strengthened connection between the mind and body and nervous system regulation, improved relationships and health, and joy.

— Grace Willow, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in Larkspur, CO

I use body-work to guide clients in releasing their trauma histories. When trauma occurs early in life before language skills are fully developed, the trauma automatically becomes stored in the body. Symptoms of pain, repeated injuries, and even susceptibility to illness can all be signs of unprocessed childhood trauma. When we work somatically, we release the emotions stored in the body to relieve the physical symptoms and postural habits.

— Rebecca Spear, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Pasadena, CA

I have studied Somatic Therapy for many years and have assisted and participated in a variety of somatic trainings and workshops.

— Keri Willis, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Asheville, NC

All clinician and supervisors work through the lens of somatic therapy. We believe understanding our whole self starts with holding space for all the emotions and experience of the body.

— Portland Therapy Project, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Drawing from polyvagal theory, I help clients develop awareness of nervous system states.

— Angela Allan, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

The mind and the body are intricately connected; with the body holding its own memory. Somatic work can aid in a holistic focus where the two worlds can work together to facilitate healing.

— Brittney George, Licensed Professional Counselor in , VA

I could have spent my whole life talking about trauma instead of moving it through. As a student who stumbled into the field, I was its biggest critic. I wanted evidence that felt senses mattered. In my most profound relationships now as client or healer, we don't talk a lot & the evidence is right there in the ability to process & release pain without analysis paralysis. I lead folx to learn from their own body how stress shapes the way they walk the world & they let it lead them toward freedom

— Sarah Kendrick, Mental Health Counselor in Portland, OR

I found my way to Pyschotherapy as a result of many clients emotional experiences as a massage/ CranioSacral therapist. So many clients were having emotional releases and needed help to process them, so I became a therapist. What does somatic therapy mean and look like? Implicit memories (the ones without a movie in our head) are stored in the body keep people stuck. These memories can be released and accessed to heal the body and the mind with or without the story being shared or even touched.

— Karen Lucas, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

Somatic therapy is the physical underlying prompting of all emotion and action. It is physically felt through the vagus nerve (12th cranial nerve in the brain) throughout our whole body. When you develop awareness of your sensations you can learn how to “feel” feelings in a completely new way. It is like having another sense. Once you have this sense, you can develop techniques that make moving through emotions, trauma, eating disorders and other “intense” states a breeze. It is fun and easy!

— Yoni Banayan, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Las Vegas, NV

As humans, we store memories, experience and emotions on a cellular level. Which means, it’s not “all in your head”; rather, our bodies hold information as well. Somatic approaches are used to engage the relationship between mind, body, brain, and behaviors. I'll use strategies and techniques to help calm your nervous system, and create more ease in your healing process. The mind-body techniques aid in the release of pent-up tension that’s weighing on your emotional and physical well-being.

— Cheryl Carr, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Hamburg, NY

The theory behind somatic therapy is that the mind, body, spirit, and emotions are all related and connected to each other. As a result, the stress of past emotional and traumatic events affects the central nervous system and can cause changes in the body and even in body language, often resulting in altered facial expressions and posture as well as physical pain. Somatic therapy helps you to release... the emotions that remain in your body from these past negative experiences. -Psychology Today

— Jules Allison, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Somatic therapy is a form of body-centered therapy that looks at the connection of mind and body and uses psychotherapy for holistic healing. In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy practitioners like myself use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that negatively affects a patient’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

— Danika Grundemann, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist