Just like the physical scars on our bodies, we have internal scars from past experiences or traumas that influence our physical and mental well-being. As a result, every human being needs to feel supported and guided every now and then. You may seek this support through friends, family, talk therapy, or alternative medicine.
A form of alternative medicine that can guide you to a place of happiness and peace is somatic movement therapy. But what is somatic therapy and how does it change the way you feel?
Here is everything you need to know about somatic movement to decide if this healing technique is right for you.
What is Somatic Movement Therapy?
The term “somatics” comes from the Latin word soma, which means “the living body” and refers to the mind-body connection that helps us understand what our body needs and where. Somatic therapy picks up on signals about areas of pain, injury, imbalances, or trauma and uses touch and natural movements to heal the mind, body, and soul.
By tapping into the nervous system, you are able to unlock your unconscious thoughts and feelings that might be holding you back from living your life. Somatic movement therapy allows you to reconnect with your emotional self, providing a stronger sense of self and leading you on a path of fulfillment.
How Does Somatic Therapy Work?
Somatic therapy is based on the theory that the mind, body, spirit, and emotions are all connected. As a result, if we experience a traumatic event, it negatively impacts our central nervous system and causes changes in our emotions and body language. This leads to adjustments in facial expressions and posture, which can cause physical pain. Somatic movement therapy releases any anger or tension we hold from these past experiences to get us to a place of calm and happiness.
What are Somatic Movement Exercises?
Somatic movement exercises work with the nervous system to relieve pain, release muscular tension, improve posture and movement, and promote healing throughout the body. Throughout each exercise, you create a deeper connection with yourself and increase your internal awareness.
Here are a few somatic therapy exercises that work towards healing and wellness.
Rolfing is a form of bodywork that reduces tension in the connective tissues called fascia. This alleviates pain or discomfort in the fascial layers, restoring balance throughout the body. Rolfing also improves posture and movement patterns to create long-lasting change.
Trauma and stress get stored in the fascia, so rolfing connects us with those deeper emotions and causes the body to self-regulate and heal itself.
This somatic approach uses guided movements, touch, and voice to lead us on a journey of self-awareness and a deeper understanding of ourselves. This can be done in the form of movement therapy, dance, music, meditation, and so much more.
By helping us understand how the mind is expressed through the body, we become more informed and insightful human beings.
This somatic movement exercise helps you move in a more comfortable and relaxed way by releasing harmful habits and stress built up over a long period of time. If you have stiff shoulders or suffer from an injury, the Alexander Technique will allow you to move more freely, and you’ll learn to restore poise and balance in overall functioning.
Other somatic exercises that you are more familiar with and may use on a daily basis are dance, yoga, or pilates.
Yoga is a somatic movement therapy exercise that expands one’s flexibility, breath, peace of mind, and emotional and physical health. The movements and words throughout a yoga session help you find your purpose in life and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Pilates works to encourage students to focus on their breathing and movements to bring awareness to bodily functions and cultivate mindfulness, openness, and acceptance.
With all of these somatic movement exercises, you are focusing on each movement in a way that teaches you something about your body and your mind. This enables you to express yourself more freely and convey emotions through movement.
What Does Somatic Therapy Help With?
Anyone can try Somatic Movement Therapy to treat an array of physical and mental health conditions. Traditional talk therapy helps many emotional and mental issues, but if you still find yourself holding back from living your life to the fullest, somatic therapy might be your solution.
Somatic therapy can help people who suffer from:
– Relationship problems
Along with mental health conditions, somatic movement therapy helps alleviate chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, and digestive disorders. It can also be used in both individual and group settings.
Does Somatic Movement Therapy Work?
Even though science-backed evidence from somatic therapy remains limited, it has been shown to be effective and beneficial. Individuals suffering from PTSD noted that it dramatically sped up the time needed to heal from a traumatic event. It has also been effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
By focusing on areas of pain or discomfort, somatic therapy has been shown to reduce pain and fatigue in people living with chronic back or joint pain. Not only does this positively impact physical well-being, but it increases mood and mental well-being as well.
Are There Limitations to Somatic Therapy?
Despite the positive benefits of somatic therapy, there have been some concerns regarding the use of somatic movement therapy as a treatment option. One ethical issue is the use of touch during a therapy session. While some prefer physical touch to reduce pain and tension in the body, other individuals, such as those with a history of sexual abuse, may be negatively affected by physical touch.
As a result, both the practitioner and the patient must consent to physical touch during the somatic therapy session.
What to Expect During a Session
During your somatic therapy session, your practitioner will help you revive traumatic moments and experiences from your past and focus on your physical reactions once the memory is restored.
Techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, will help you cope with your emotional and physical responses to these disturbing memories and lead you to a state of happiness and relaxation.
How to Prepare for Your First Appointment
Before your somatic movement therapy session, you should determine what your emotional and physical goals are and what you want to gain from your experience. Just like with any therapy, be prepared to talk about old and traumatic memories so you can finally move past them and live a fulfilled life.
What matters most is that you are comfortable with your therapist so you can embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-healing.
How to find Somatic Movement Therapy Practitioner
At CalmNest, self-care and self-love are a priority. All practitioners are licensed and experienced mental health professionals who are there to guide you through your personal growth journey and support you every step of the way.
Whether you attend a virtual or in-person session, practitioners maintain the energetic connection and help you set positive feelings and intentions. With a variety of modalities to choose from, you are able to find the right one for you to improve your overall well-being.