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What Is Somatic Therapy?

Mental health is often treated by using techniques that work on the mind only; however, there are some therapies that go more into the whole body to treat mental health problems. One of these is somatic therapy, which uses techniques designed to work on the mind, body and spirit.

So, what is somatic therapy, and how can it help people with mental health issues?

Introducing somatic therapy

Somatic therapy is also known as somatic experiencing and somatic experiencing therapy. The therapy involves using the mind, body and spirit together to treat and heal.

Mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are treated through a connection between the mind and the body. This is different from some other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on the mind only.

There are many somatic therapy courses that aim to help teach what somatic therapy is, and how it can be effectively used by mental health professionals for the benefit of their clients.  

What are the different types of somatic therapy?

Somatic experiencing therapy is the most commonly used type; it is also the easiest. People are encouraged to talk about other therapies they have used and how they feel. With somatic therapy, they also discuss their physical feelings and sensations.

Mind and body exercises are then used which include visualisation, massage, dance, grounding, breath work and sensation awareness work.

Together with somatic experiencing therapy, there are also other types of therapy that use somatic therapy as the basis. These include:


This therapy uses mind and bodywork, but also incorporates eye positioning to try and retrain emotional reactions.

● The Hakomi Method

This therapy focuses on four concepts: gentleness, nonviolence, compassion and mindfulness. It also uses scientific, psychological and spiritual sources.

Sensorimotor psychotherapy

This therapy uses the body to discover information together with intervention targets.

● Biodynamic psychotherapy

This is a combination of medical and holistic therapies that tries to deal with the understanding of energy.

How does somatic therapy work?

The idea behind somatic therapy is that what happens in your life not only affects your mind, but also impacts on your body. This means that if you work on both the mind and body together, you can overcome your mental health problems.

Some of the techniques used in somatic therapy include:

● Grounding

● Acting out of physical feelings and other movement activities

● Tools to help calm the person

● Using new tools to revisit and replay past situations

● Emotional release

● Strengthening boundaries

How effective is somatic therapy?

It has been shown that somatic therapy can be effective at dealing with many physical and psychological issues.

The treatment of PTSD has been seen to be an effective alternative to CBT. It seems to speed up the healing time from a traumatic event, although more studies are needed to see what patients will benefit the most from somatic therapy.

It has also been shown to have a positive effect on the treatment of chronic pain.


Somatic therapy still has some way to go before there is enough evidence to prove exactly how effective it is. However, the early signs are encouraging – and with the help of the courses available through nscience, mental health practitioners can continue to develop and maximise their knowledge and effectiveness in practising this kind of therapy.

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