Somatic Therapy

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy, sometimes called body psychotherapy, bodywork, body-oriented psychotherapy, body-focused therapy, or somatic therapy, is a holistic approach in which practitioners use the connection between the mind and body, and, in some cases, the spirit, to promote both emotional and physical healing.

Types of Somatic Therapy

The most common and straightforward form of somatic therapy is known as such or as somatic experiencing therapy. In this therapy, patients discuss their problems as in other forms of mental wellness therapies. Rather than just talk about them, somatic therapists guide patients to focus on their underlying physical sensations. 

These therapies are based on the belief that emotions you experience during a trauma may get trapped in your body. That may affect the way your nervous system responds in the future. The traumatic event becomes ‘frozen in time’ which can feel as if the threat is still ongoing. The aim of therapy is to release the emotions that are stored within the body so you can process the memory and learn to feel safe.

From there, the mind-body exercises may include breath work, meditation, visualization, massage, grounding, dance, and/or sensation awareness work.


Beyond the standard somatic therapy, numerous subgroups use its framework in specific ways. These include:

  • Sensorimotor psychotherapy
  • The Hakomi Method 
  • Bioenergetic analysis
  • Biodynamic psychotherapy
  • Trauma-based yoga
  • T’ai Chi
  • Qigong
  • Seated Meditation

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a naturalistic form of healing that can help individuals learn how to settle and release physiological symptoms from their body. It involves gradual exposure to feeling and being aware of the body with all of its trauma.

Clients learn to tolerate activation little by little and not recoil, runaway or avoid it.

SE is particularly useful in managing stress and trauma because so many of the symptoms are physiological. 

SE can help people with various experiences of trauma such as:

– natural disasters, (earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, etc.)
– severe childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse
– violence or witnessing violence
– rape or assault
– catastrophic injuries or illness
– loss of a loved one
– automobile accidents (even minor ones)
– invasive medical or dental procedures (especially for children)
– falls (especially for children and elderly people)
– abandonment, especially for babies and young children
– war