Somatic Psychotherapy

Somatic psychotherapy, which is a form of body-oriented therapy, has grown dramatically since its inception from the theories of Pierre Janet and the works of Wilhelm Reich in the early 21st century. The original model of somatic psychotherapy using energy and character has been expanded upon in recent times by Pierrakos, Lowen, and Keleman. In the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, additional modifications have been made through creative additions from Boadella and Boyesen. Contemporary somatic psychotherapy recognizes that every intricacy of human experience is connected and that each element of body, mind, and spirit co-exist, complement, and contrast each other and combine to create a complete, whole person. In addition, somatic theories state that every experience, event, external and cultural environment, and somatic reality are woven together as one seamless fabric. This form of therapy employs a comprehensive and naturalist approach to human development, growth, and healing.

What is Somatic Psychotherapy?

Somatic psychotherapy is an embodied experience that makes no distinction between body and mind. By severing the two and considering them as disconnected separate entities, one's understanding of the intricate inter-relations people have becomes distorted. These misperceptions of people's internal selves often go unrecognized in traditional verbal psychotherapy, however by incorporating somatic experiences into the treatment, these relevant symptoms and signs become visible. In addition, various toxic practices continue to be unattended to because of the missing component of physical body oriented psychotherapy. The body represents an enormous field of awareness and this belief has been at the core of all body oriented therapies since they came into development.

Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy

Contemporary somatic psychotherapy differs greatly from various other techniques found in modern body-work in that it emphasizes a psychotherapeutical foundation that allows for physical and verbal exercises if warranted. The therapist and client strive to dissect and decipher their experiences through the therapeutic allegiance in a traditionally psychotherapeutic way and this lays the foundation for the contemporary somatic system. This protocol facilitates the whole body experience be eliciting sensing, feeling, and emotional patterns that originate in childhood and persist through to the present day. By identifying these patterns, the therapeutic process can begin to address the sense of Self found at the core of these behaviors and incorporate somatic techniques to unveil that inner being.

Contemporary somatic psychotherapy is focused on achieving the goals of the client in a wholly ethical, collaborative, and healthy environment and with appropriate techniques that are suitable for both the client and therapist. Although most psychotherapy practices require specific ethical adherence, Somatic Psychotherapy deviates from the stringent ethical structure to a position of shared agreement between the therapist and client in order to implement the necessary protocol to achieve the desired outcome.

"Embodied Experience" in Somatic Psychotherapy

‘Embodied experience’ integrates social culture and biology into a profound and constructive interaction and the treatment involves participation by both the client and therapist in an effort to create a transformation in which the terminology shifts from administering pathology to affecting appropriate modification and adaptation to cultural situations and circumstances. During the therapeutic environment, the client is encouraged to reflect on these patterns of behavior and to identify the positive and negative characteristics these patterns have had on new experiences that have arisen during the therapy. Change occurs through the process of emerging somatic experiences. The changes are fundamentally radical and affect not only the somatic experience but are bodily centered changes that affect the experience of being with the world, with others, and with oneself. The process profoundly alters the somatic experience of the client and their role in their own social context.

Resources Related to Somatic Psychotherapy


Last updated: 07-02-2015

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