When people learn that I am a Somatic Psychotherapist, the first question they often ask is “What is Somatic Psychotherapy?” “Somatic” means "of the body", and Somatic Psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy that includes listening to the body. This involves bringing awareness to a wide variety of things including facial expressions, gestures, body posture, the nervous system, or sensations, in order to get information that can deepen our understanding of what is happening internally as we encounter difficult situations in our lives. Somatic psychotherapy helps integrate the information we learn from our bodies with what we learn from our thoughts, words and emotions.
Listening to our bodies, as well as our thoughts, can help identify long term patterns-- patterns that may have been useful at one time, but now block us from our full range of options. These patterns might be physical (e.g. tight shoulders when we are afraid, shallow breathing when we are anxious, or a clenched jaw when we are angry), emotional (e.g. a sense that it’s not okay to be sad or angry) or patterns of thought (e.g. “I am unworthy of attention or love”). We explore these patterns in gentle and supportive ways to understand how they have been helpful. We also look for alternatives. Somatic work can be a resource for finding new options, as well as for increasing strength, resilience and regulation.
Somatic Psychotherapy is often quite useful in cases where traditional psychotherapy has had limited effectiveness, for example in working with trauma and early attachment issues that are often stored in the body and resistent to verbal processing. It helps clients move from a state of overwhelm to a place where they have a sense of agency and support.
In my work I draw on decades of experience in Tai Chi, in Somatic Psychology, in Internal Family Systems, and as a teacher to help each person find his or her unique path to a more balanced and regulated integration of mind and body as well as to an increased sense of well-being.