Somatic Psychotherapy: What is it?Somatic Psychotherapy or Body-Oriented Psychotherapy treats the body and mind as a united and balanced whole. It is a way of steadying an imbalanced mental or emotional state by enabling the client to recover her wholeness.

An imbalance develops when a person suppresses a physical urge to express what he/she is feeling because she believes or is made to believe that giving in to such spontaneous urges (like crying, laughing, shouting, singing, or dancing) is wrong or inappropriate. The person can start to believe that being herself is wrong or not good enough.

The dissociation (or break) between her physical and mental selves hinders a person from feeling truly alive and vibrant. This, in turn, brings on feelings of dissatisfaction that lead her to seek comfort happiness beyond herself through addictions, eating disorders (like bulimia and anorexia nervosa), co-dependent behaviour, and abusive relationships.

Imbalances can also develop from childhood experiences of sexual abuse that often lead victims to associate sexuality with being bad, thereby deny themselves the pleasurable sensations due to feelings of guilt and shame. Violent sexual experiences, such as rape, during adolescence or adulthood can also mislead victims into associating sexuality with pain, fear, and indignity. Sexual dysfunctions such as frigidity, impotence, or promiscuity can result, preventing individuals from experiencing healthy and satisfying intimate relationships.

Somatic therapists seek to call forth feelings of self-empowerment, contentment, security, and the general sense of well-being that people denied themselves, usually from a very young age, by helping them re-experience their bodily sensations and physical urges in a healthy and pleasurable manner.

Treatment starts with an awareness of the client’s body language, sexuality, and psychosomatic (body-mind) responses. It may also incorporate talk therapy with therapies that involve touch and movement such as massage therapy and dance therapy.

Australia Counselling links you with body-oriented psychotherapists and body centred therapists in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and regional areas of Australia. Visit our directory page.