Somatic Trauma Therapy: What Is It and How Can It Help Me?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a growing concern in the United States. Please take a moment and consider these numbers:

  • At any given time, roughly 8 percent of Americans have PTSD.

  • That’s about 25 million people navigating the symptoms below.

  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

  • One in nine women develop PTSD and that only includes diagnosed cases.

People with PTSD often find themselves reliving a traumatic event. They may also avoid locations or situations that remind them of the event. All of this adds us to increasingly negative feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. It also causes physical issues.

PTSD symptoms may include:

  • Nightmares and/or insomnia

  • Flashbacks

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of trust

  • Depression

  • Isolation

  • Loneliness

  • Guilt

  • Loss of interest in once pleasurable activities

  • Detachment

  • Self-destructive behavior

The rising number of PTSD cases, combined with the severity of the symptoms, makes the urgency clear. A wide range of approaches and treatments exist. Increasingly, Somatic Trauma Therapy has become a powerful option for healing PTSD.

What is Somatic Trauma Therapy?

Somatic trauma therapy begins by respecting the mind-body connection. Somatic Trauma Therapy is based on an understanding that many factors may impact our emotional state. For example:

  • Beliefs

  • Thoughts

  • Attitudes

  • Feelings

  • Physical conditioning

  • Posture and activity level

  • Eating habits

But mostly, this form of therapy accepts that what we feel when experiencing trauma can become trapped within us. Trauma may result in digestive issues, sexual dysfunction, muscular pain, and more. Somatic Therapy aims to release what’s trapped. This will relieve the referred physical issues. Also, aiding the body’s regulation in this way helps the person move towards resolving the trauma. Think of it as “resetting” your nervous system.

3 Ways Somatic Trauma Therapy Helps People with PTSD

1. Brings our energy flow back to normal

Our bodies naturally cycle between being alert and at rest. Stimulation happens. It might be in reaction to something that brings pleasure. Or it could be a response to danger. Under normal conditions, we will settle back into rest. This allows us to function and helps prepare us in case our energy is demanded again. Trauma interrupts this cycle. Energy can get trapped or stuck. It is then easily triggered if we are reminded of the uncompleted experience. Somatic Therapy works to release that blockage. It also relieves the symptoms caused by that blockage.

2. We draw power from learning to help ourselves

When animals experience stress, they later “discharge” the excess energy. They might shake or quiver or tremble. Sometimes they take long deep breaths or sweat profusely. In other cases, the animal may “re-enact” the experience to resolve it. All of this enables them to move on despite a terrible experience. With guidance, we can do something similar. We are less in tune with our bodies than animals. And we rely more on our big brains. But we can tune back in to what we’re feeling. In fact, our bodies crave it and the results can be immediate.

3. We re-learn how to trust ourselves and our perception

Somatic Therapy offers people with PTSD a re-set. They can once again recognize what is and isn’t safe. Furthermore, they become open to new experiences and trust their ability to handle adversity. As symptoms vanish, their daily life becomes different. In addition, they are more present. They can now pay attention to what they feel and why. Avoidance is no longer a dominant factor.

If you’ve experienced unresolved trauma, you already know how difficult it can be. Somatic Trauma Therapy may be your path toward relief.  Please contact our intake team at the Center for Mindful Psychotherapy: call us at (415) 766-0276; or email us at intakes@mindfulcenter.org.