The Transformative Power of Somatic Therapies for Trauma Healing
Trauma has a devastating impact on an individual's life, affecting their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. This is because traumatic experiences are stored in the body, continuing to affect an individual long after the event has passed.
In fact, during trauma recall, Broca's area of the brain - the area responsible for speech production - tends to shut down, compromising our ability to describe our emotions and experiences.1 Thus, traditional cognitive and verbal therapies are often not effective in supporting trauma survivors in accessing, processing, and releasing trauma stored in the body. Instead, somatically-driven and body-based therapies bring attention to the physical sensations and emotions to help heal and release trauma stored in the body by nonverbally accessing the nervous system to unlock memories and emotions associated with trauma.3
Somatic therapies have a wide range of benefits that include:
- Helping you to safely shift traumatic memories to relieve worry and intrusive thoughts
- Reduce the intensity and frequency of triggers, flashbacks, and nightmares
- Reduce patterns of addiction and shame
- Nurture self-empathy to relieve feelings of overwhelm and depression
- Reframe deep association with loss and grief to open space for closure and repair
- Foster feelings of safety when feeling anxious or isolated
Somatic therapies have been developed to work directly with the nervous system to target the sensory receptors located throughout the body to rewire and regulate the nervous system.2 This helps to release the trauma energy that is stored in the body to help regulate trauma responses and symptoms to rekindle emotional homeostasis.1
A core part of somatic therapies is the awareness of physical sensations, focusing on the inner experience of the movement rather than the outcome.3 This allows the mind to connect with the embodied experience, to notice physical sensations, and to attend to images, insights, and words that might surface during the movement.4
By focusing on our physical sensations, which grounds us into the present moment, we gain a greater understanding of our body's responses to trauma while calming and regulating our body and nervous system.
The holistic approach of somatic therapies integrates movement, touch, mindfulness, breathwork, and talk therapy to gain a deeper understanding of how trauma manifests in our bodies.
Somatic therapies help to support individuals in relieving the lingering effects of trauma while transforming feelings of numbness, sadness, and grief into feelings of acceptance and hope. Somatic therapies also help to release chronic fear, paranoia, and negative thinking to embrace feelings of safety, empowerment, and excitement, which nurtures the inner child to restore sensations of power, self-agency, and choice within the body.
Somatic therapies offer a transformative approach to trauma healing that recognizes the connection between the mind and body. With a growing number of experts supporting its effectiveness, somatic therapies are a valuable option for individuals seeking a more comprehensive and holistic approach to trauma healing. If you're interested in exploring somatic therapies for trauma healing, we invite you to explore our online, expert-curated Somatic Therapy program.
By addressing both the physical and emotional components of trauma, somatic therapies have the power to support individuals in reclaiming their lives by guiding them through an embodied healing journey.
1 Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.
2Complex Trauma Resources. (2021). Somatic therapy: healing trauma through the body. Retrieved from https://www.complextrauma.org/somatic-therapy-healing-trauma-through-the-body/
3Werbalowsky, T. (2019). The body’s response to trauma. In J. A. Trevino & J. M. Razzano (Eds.), Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services (pp. 51-62). American Psychiatric Association Publishing.
4Saumaa, D. (2021). Dancing bodies, still minds: an exploration of dance and mindfulness. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 13(2), 227-238. https://doi.org/10.1386/jdsp_00036_1