Somatic Psychology, also known as body-oriented therapy, is an embodied experience that makes no distinction between body and mind. Within the therapeutic environment, a whole body experience is used to foster awareness and elicit sensing and feeling emotional patterns that often originate from past events resulting from childhood memories or from trauma.
Somatic Psychology is founded on a holistic approach where the whole person, including the senses, help bridge the mind-body dichotomy. According to Caldwell (1997) somatic psychology is, “the study of the mind/body interface, the relationship between our physical matter and our energy, the interaction of our body structures with our thoughts and actions”.
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. Therapeutic interventions include Hakomi, Focusing, dance and movement, meditative practices, body centered mindfulness, and sensorimotor explorations. Although the majority of 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. This may include touch, dream tending, dance, movement, creative exploration, and other forms of exploratory practices.
Areas of Development Include:
- Addressing anxiety, stress and PTSD
- Fostering body centered mindfulness
- Reconnection to Self
- Building new foundation of existence
Resources Related to Somatic Psychology
Boadella, D. (1985) Wilhelm Reich: The evolution of his work. Arkana: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
C. Caldwell. (1997).Getting in touch: The guide to new body-centered therapies. Wheaton, IL: Quest.
Gendlin, E. (1996) Focusing-oriented Psychotherapy. Guilford Press
Hartley, L. (2004) Somatic Psychology: Body, Mind, and Meaning. London: Whurr Publisher.