Somatic Therapy: A Gentle Approach to Healing Trauma

In Western medicine, the mind and body tend to be treated separately, but research suggests that treatment for trauma and other mental health issues is more successful when it acknowledges and nurtures the connection between our mental and physical health. Doctors are beginning to take the psychological elements of physical illnesses into account, and mental health practitioners are increasingly relying on the interconnectedness of the mind and body to treat mental health conditions.

The Mind-Body Connection

Though there is ample evidence that the mind and body are closely linked, it will likely take some time for mind-body therapy to gain acceptance. After all, Western medicine was founded on the assumption that the mind and body are not interconnected. Rene Descartes, the 17th century philosopher who laid the groundwork for modern science, espoused a dualistic perspective that treated the mind and body as two completely separate entities.

In other parts of the world, however, the connection between mind and body has been self-evident for centuries. For instance, a central tenet of the Indian healing method and lifestyle Ayurveda is the power of the mind over the body’s wellbeing.

Somatic Therapy for PTSD

Methods that treat the body and mind together are called somatic therapy. Somatic therapy can help trauma survivors experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it has shown encouraging outcomes for other mental and physical illnesses as well. The term somatic means expressly relating to the body (soma is the Latin word for body) and it’s most commonly used in a biomedical context.

Research has proven that what affects our minds also affects our bodies. In a moment of trauma, our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our “fight or flight” response, goes into overdrive and produces adrenaline. Acute and/or chronic stress has been shown to cause physiological changes in the sympathetic nervous system that make us more susceptible to anxiety long after the traumatic event has ended.

How It Works

Somatic therapy can lessen trauma-induced stress by helping survivors regulate their physical responses to stress. For instance, titration is a technique that involves talking through a traumatic event with your therapist and noticing any physiological changes that arise. Your therapist will then teach you how to deal with the physical responses your trauma induces, which will in turn lessen the stress surrounding your memories.

Other somatic therapy techniques include postural integration, sensory awareness, massage, dance, yoga, somatic experiencing and many more. The techniques are diverse, but the common element is that they all seek to improve health by promoting awareness of the mind-body connection.

Somatic Therapy Could Work for You

If you’re struggling with persistent PTSD, addiction or a mental health condition, somatic therapy might be right for you. The Sanctuary at Sedona offers programs that address underlying trauma using somatic therapy techniques like therapeutic body work, energy medicine, meditation and breath work. A holistic approach to healing forms the foundation of our programs.

Read more about mind-body awareness in our article: Epigenetics and the Mind-Body Connection.

If you’re ready to try a more integrated approach to trauma treatment, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at info@sanctuary.net to learn how we can help you.