Somatic-based EMDR Therapy
What does somatic-based therapy mean?
Somatic therapy is a type of therapy that uses a person’s awareness in the present moment to connect the body to the mind and emotions. Traditional talk therapy focuses on a discussion between the therapist and client for the purpose of figuring out and coping with what causes symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and problematic behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. While talk therapy can be helpful, often it tends to be long-term and is effective to continue treating the symptoms. However, it doesn't address or resolve the root of what causes mental health issues and emotional dysregulation. What distinguishes somatic therapy from traditional talk therapy is that we can do more than just cope with symptoms. When we work with how the symptoms are stored in the body, they get the chance to be resolved.
Bear with me as I go into some brain and body science. Our bodies are always reacting to our environment, thoughts, and emotions. This is because our nervous system (NS), which contains our survival responses, activates different parts of our brains and bodies based on what we’re experiencing in the moment. Our survival responses are fight/flight/freeze and shut down/collapse/fawn. We tend to experience anxiety, panic, and emotional reactivity in the fight/flight/freeze response. On the other end, we tend to experience depression, dissociation, and emotional numbness in the shut down/collapse/fawn response. The primary job of the NS is to keep us safe and functioning. We get triggered into fight/flight/freeze when we sense some kind of threat or shut down/collapse/fawn when our system gets overwhelmed. These responses are important for our survival and happen automatically, usually outside of our conscious awareness.
When we experience overwhelming adversity or trauma, the energy that our NS activates often gets stuck, and it gets stuck in our bodies. We can feel something in our bodies and have a memory emerge. We can be in a place that feels similar to an experience when something bad happened and instantly feel fearful and anxious. Have you ever felt sudden anxious or depressive symptoms that you couldn’t quite explain? That’s the NS getting triggered into a survial response from unprocessed/unresolved energy.
The most important thing to mindful of is that survival reactions aren’t good or bad. They just happen. Our anxiety, depression, and trauma responses aren’t pathological. They’re automatic reactions that ensured our survival during times of overwhelm or adversity in our past. We encounter issues when our NS is still activating a survival response when it doesn’t need to.
If these reactions happen automatically, how can therapy help?
We all have an invaluable tool that can help us work through and resolve these reactions on a connected mind and body level. This tool is present-moment awareness. When we become fully aware of what’s happening in our bodies, minds, and emotions in the present moment, we have the opportunity to work with our survival responses and allow the trapped energy to shift or release. There's no one way this looks. This process evolves organically to resolution, whatever that looks like for you.
In therapy, we’ll work together so you can learn about and build a relationship between your awareness and nervous system reactions. This will allow you to bring full awareness to and work through those things that have felt like they’ve been weighing you down for so long. Here’s what we’ll work on together so that you can experience healing and grow towards the life you feel called to:
Getting more present and tuning into what is happening in your body.
Tracking what comes into your awareness - body sensations, thoughts, judgements, and emotions in each present moment.
Developing a relationship with how your awareness naturally expands and progresses.
Expanding your resiliency so you can encounter and work through pain points and trapped trauma energy.
Experiencing more attunement to your inner knowing and drive to live a life that feels true to who you are.
Read more below to learn what EMDR is and how it aids the therapy process or click the Contact Me button below to schedule a free consultation.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (or EMDR) is a therapy that is used to help people process and heal from situations or events that have been emotionally, mentally, or physically disturbing. The most common use for EMDR is for processing through traumatic experiences.
In it's original form, EMDR helps people process through negative experiences by stimulating both sides of the brain (the left hemisphere and right hemisphere). Therapists have historically done this by having clients follow a visual focal point from left to right very quickly while mentally and emotionally bringing up the distressing event.
In it's more modern form, this same effect is achieved through alternate tapping on the let and right sides of the body (tapping lightly on each leg in an alternating left and right pattern).
Stimulating the brain in this way mimics the same process of REM sleep, which is the primary way that we process through the day's events in our sleep. It also helps the nervous system better regulate while working through the stuck physical and emotional energy from the events that haven't been able to be fully processed. Using EMDR gives the nervous system more of an opportunity to have resolution with distressing or traumatic experiences.
When EMDR is used as a tool to accompany somatic therapy, people are better able to work through and process a distressing event, feeling, thought, or sensation. In other words, working through it can feel less overwhelming. As the experiences and emotions are processed, the triggers happen less often, the nervous system doesn't go into fight/flight or shut down/collapse as often, and people experience the ability to be more present and grounded with themselves and the world around them.
If you have any questions or would like more information, click the Contact Me button below to schedule free consultation.