What Is Somatic Healing?

It’s been scientifically proven that your thoughts and emotions impact your body greatly, all the way down to the cellular level—trauma, long term stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can manifest as a multitude of physical health issues ranging from muscular tension to diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Cognitive-based therapies (CBT) seek to heal the powerful mental impressions of trauma and long-term negative emotions verbally, which can be highly effective. However, what is not addressed by this form of therapy is the lasting physical impression, which can get lodged deeply in the nervous system. In many cases, this physical “body memory” is what keeps trauma so persistent. Through physical manipulation such as acupressure and yoga, or guided conversations coupled with body awareness, somatic healing therapies help cleanse both the body and mind from trauma and painful emotional patterns.

Somatic experiencing, one of the most prominent somatic healing therapies, was developed by Dr. Peter Levine in the 1970s when he realized that wild animals experience frequent traumas but don’t usually have trauma symptoms. Humans, he figured, likely had this same ability, but weren’t completing a necessary step in the process of trauma de-escalation. The somatic experiencing technique works to execute and complete these innate protective responses that were possibly ignored during a traumatic event, as well as to release the associated pent-up survival energy. It is achieved through body awareness and increasing tolerance to the difficult sensations associated with trauma.

Somatic experiencing and somatic healing therapies in general are powerful tools for everyone, regardless of the severity of trauma faced. As Dr. Levine has said, “Trauma is a fact of life. But it does not have to be a life sentence.” Through alternative therapies that integrate multiple aspects of human health, freedom from trauma and harmful emotional patterns is possible. If you’d like to work with a somatic healing practitioner, head over to Tribe’s practitioner directory.

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