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Inner Compass Coach's explanation of Somatic Therapy

What is Somatic Therapy?

career mindset Feb 17, 2023

By Danielle Roessle, LCSW, GCDFI, CCSP

As a trained therapist, I've seen several therapists myself over the years- many trained in talk therapy, which is a process of talking through problems by identifying the source of the issue and developing solutions to move forward (talk therapy is what is typically portrayed in movies or tv).  

I remember after leaving a talk therapy session where I'd would analyze my past with my therapist, I would leave in a spin of overthinking an issue, which didn't calm my nervous system.

Then in 2012, when I was pursing my social work licensure, I started learning about somatic therapy (Soma is the Greek word for body). Somatic therapy includes different practices to release stress from the body, such as mediation, visualization, dance, and movement. 

A Background of Somatic Therapy

To provide some brief background, Somatic Therapy was started by Wilhelm Reich, a student of Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s, who believed that the body should be involved in psychotherapy and that repressed emotions can be seen in body language and movement (picture a person carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders). 

Peter Levine, currently one of the leading psychologists in the somatic therapy field, realized that when people go through stress or trauma, they store the energy of those experiences in their body. If that energy is not released, it will cause dysregulation (picture someone who is about to explode after taking on years of stress).

The purpose of somatic therapy is to use the body to process negative experiences and emotions, thus releasing the energy trapped in the body.

An example of somatic practice for me looks like sitting in a quiet space, closing my eyes, and paying attention to my body to notice where my energy is blocked and then spending time with the sensations, and asking questions to get information.

It seemed counterintuitive because I thought I would come to better conclusions through talk therapy- thinking about my past and developing solutions. Instead, I found through somatic practices like the one I shared above, I was getting better outcomes such as releasing stress and anxiety by using my body and finding more mental clarity.

I can compare my somatic practices to someone who uses exercise or movement to release stress. Imagine being able to feel similar effects to the "feel good" endorphins after the workout, and in addition, finding more clarity on issues that you’re struggling with. 

While I'm working in a coaching capacity these days, opposed to clinical therapy, I like using somatic practices with my career coaching clients who need to find the answers to deeper questions such as, "Should I move?", "Should I accept a job offer?", "How should I handle this situation with my boss?", and find that analysis or talk therapy isn't working for them.

While somatic practices aren't  for everyone, especially for individuals who are uncomfortable experiencing their feelings or being in their body, if you'd like to learn more, I'm going to be sharing some exercises this Sunday from 8-9 PM EST, 6-7 PM MST over Zoom during my 9toThrive Program coaching session.

Please schedule a consultation call here, so I can share more details to help you determine if the program would be a good fit. 

Have a great President's Day weekend!



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