By: Gordon S. Bruin M.A., LCMHC

According to a 2017 article published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, incorporating Somatic Therapy into healing protocols “shows positive results” in helping survivors of trauma heal.  Somatic Therapy studies the relationships between the mind and the body in regard to a person’s past experience with trauma.  The word somatic is derived from the Greek word “soma” which means living body. In western medicine we have not done an adequate job of treating the whole person.  We’ve separated the mind from the body. We have medical doctors that specialize in treating physical problems and mental health professionals that specialize in treating emotional issues.  Professionals are now seeing that you need to address the whole person mind and body for healing to occur.  

The theory behind somatic therapies is that negative experiences and trauma can affect the ANS (autonomic nervous system).   Medical and mental health professionals now universally agree that trauma can become stuck in the cells of the body. This can leave a person in a constant state of stress.  When in this state the body cannot engage in the rest and renewal process after the traumatic event ended. 

The purpose of Somatic Therapies is to get the body engaged in a mindful way that can free up the frozen cells in the body and release the stress hormones in a natural way. Until this negative energy is released the body can experience a number of issues such as; constant illness, constant aches and pains, digestive issues, immune system dysfunction, depression, anxiety and addiction etc. It is by developing awareness of the mind-body connection through Somatic experience the body can be freed from the past and help one live a more empowered life.

Somatic therapies are activities that focus on engage the whole person (mind and body) in movement and action.  Activities such as yoga, martial arts, self-defense classes etc., helps one to establish a reconnection with their body.  It is by “getting in touch with your body, by connecting viscerally with yourself, can you regain a sense of who you are, your values and priorities…Imprints of the past can be transformed by having physical experiences that directly contradict the helpless, rage and collapse that are a part of trauma, thereby regaining self-mastery.” -Bessel Van der Kolk

 Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study

Danny Brom, 1 , 2 Yaffa Stokar, 1 Cathy Lawi, 3 Vered NurielPorat, 1 Yuval Ziv, 1 Karen Lerner, 4 and  Gina Ross 3