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4.

Somatic/Body
Psychotherapy


Dr. Pat Ogden is the developer of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

 

Sensorimotor psychotherapy draws upon a range of body modalities such as movement therapy, postural and structural integration, yoga and the Hakomi Method, and works in the treatment of those who have experienced trauma or attachment distress, chronic and unresolved stress on the basis that animal survival responses are activated at the time of trauma before cognitive or narrative areas of the brain react. However, often these instinctual defences – such as the desire to run or fight – are unfulfilled, leaving the client with a habitual sense of unease.

 

Somatic psychotherapy fundamentally works to foster body-brain integration. By adding mindfulness and bodily sensations to emotions and insight, somatic work enables us to integrate the instinctive, unconscious, right-brain aspects of our experiences with the analytic, linguistic, left-brain aspects. This integration actually changes structures in our three brains (reptilian, limbic and neocortical) so we can regulate our emotions more easily and make changes and choices in our lives from a grounded, alive, and interpersonally connected place. Body sensations, gestures, eye contact, breathing patterns, movements, shifts in physical position, pace of speech, speech quality and many other more physiological things are actually routes to the unconscious – - those things we are not aware of and have not processed yet affect us in our daily lives

Like other somatic psychology approaches, Somatic Psychotherapy professes a body-first approach to working trauma and old survival patterns stuck in the system, where the nervous system never got the opportunity having been stuck in a survival response. As such, the physiology has adapted to the survival of the past. By looking at the sensations that lay underneath our feelings, and uncover our habitual behaviour patterns to these feelings, Sensorimotor psychotherapy employs the awareness of body sensation to help clients ''renegotiate'' and heal their traumas safely, rather than relive them.


 

The therapy involves working at the pace of the clients own nervous system (their window of tolerance) to gently activate and work the unresolved trauma and stress remnants through the body and nervous system. Therapy operates in cycles, where clients sense their way through the normal oscillations of internal sensation such as contraction and expansion. This is carried out gently and safety, working with each clients individual nervous system.

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