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Somatic Therapy: Uses, Techniques, Types, and Effectiveness

What is somatic therapy
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


Somatic therapy was initially developed to treat trauma, but currently, it is widely used to help people deal with many other mental health issues. Signs of trauma can look like many symptoms of different mental conditions, and that is why somatic therapy can be applied in a variety of situations.

Mental health professionals are using somatic therapy for individuals suffering from depression, experiencing overwhelming life events, and stuck in flashbacks.

In this blog, you will learn about the uses, effectiveness, and examples of somatic therapy to get a basic idea of how it helps to treat mental health issues.

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What Is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is also known as somatic experiencing therapy or somatic healing. It aims to connect the mind, body, and soul as a therapeutic intervention to relieve stress and trauma-related symptoms. Unlike professionals who use other psychotherapy methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, a somatic therapist applies various body-oriented modalities to the patients to alleviate symptoms. Somatic practitioners believe that the inner thoughts and feelings may influence the physical well-being of a person. According to an uncontrolled study, one hundred and fifty tsunami survivors received somatic therapy for seventy-five minutes with a follow-up of 8 months, and 90% of the patients showed significant improvement in their trauma-related symptoms and self-regulation.

What Happens in Somatic Experiencing Therapy?

A typical somatic experiencing session involves an introduction of trauma triggers that activate both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of the client. The somatic therapist keenly observes the physical reactions of the client and asks them to focus on their breathing and physical sensations. Next, the therapist further employs self-regulation strategies to control the common symptoms of trauma, such as chest tightness, agitation, excessive worry, feeling of heaviness, and dizziness.

What Are Examples of Somatic Therapy?

The most common example of somatic therapy is somatic experience therapy discussed above. However, there are various other subtypes of somatic treatments which have their specific frameworks, and they are explained below.

Biodynamic Psychotherapy

This type of somatic therapy combines both holistic and allopathic approaches. Both the patient and the practitioner collaborate to diagnose and interpret coping skills [1*] .

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Sensorimotor psychotherapy [2*] targets the unresolved traumatic triggers and memories and helps the client develop self-regulation skills against stressors. In addition, the practitioner uses information given by the client to find the root causes of mental issues.

Bioenergetic Analysis

How does bioenergetics work? This is a specialized form of body psychotherapy that connects the mind and body as one unit. The main components of this therapy include body, analytics, energy, and therapeutics.


This therapy relies on brain and body cues, kinesthetic sensations, eye movements, and emotional reactions.

The Hakomi Method

There are four fundamental concepts of this psychotherapy which include compression, gentleness, mindfulness, and nonviolence. These four concepts are integrated into spiritual, psychological, and scientific sources.

Effective Somatic Therapy Exercises and Techniques

Somatic therapy [3*] uses information stored in the human brain in the form of long-term memory. With the help of somatic therapy exercises, a person can get aware of the physical sensations and use them to control painful emotions and feelings associated with past traumas.

As people become more aware of their triggers and physical sensations, they can control panic and stress and overcome their trauma memories. The most commonly used somatic exercises are as follows:

  • Physical exercises
  • Dance therapy
  • Breathing exercises
  • Sensation awareness
  • Grounding exercises
  • Tension-releasing activities

Also, the next activities proved to be beneficial:

  • Utilizing emotional resources
  • Strengthening emotional boundaries
  • Using physical tools to replay past situations
  • Shifting focus between stressors and stress relievers
  • Encouraging new memories
  • Reinforcing positive thoughts
Effective somatic therapy exercises

Mental & Physical Health Issues That Can Be Treated With Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is applied both in individual and group settings. Anybody comfortable with talking to a therapist can quickly get such treatment to manage their symptoms of mental health issues, such as somatic therapy for anxiety and physical ailments. The common psychological and physical health issues addressed by somatic therapy are summarized in the table below.

How to Get Started With Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is widely incorporated into counseling and psychotherapy sessions. If you are looking forward to trying it, follow the simple and easy steps below.

Step 1: Find a certified mental health expert. Somatic therapists are readily available. Look for the most suitable mental health facility offering somatic therapy services (at telehealth platforms or in-person).

Step 2: Prepare for your initial appointment. Make a list of realistic physical and emotional goals before visiting your therapist for the first time. Remember that your somatic therapist will ask questions about your memories, so stay prepared to discuss transparently.

Step 3: Visit your therapist in person. If you are visiting your therapist in person, make sure that you are mentally prepared for healing interventions that may require touch.

Step 4: Connect with your therapist through a telehealth platform. You may find online somatic therapy much more convenient for time-saving and cost-effectiveness than in-person sessions.

Step 5: Follow up with your treatment plan. Don’t forget to follow up with the home plan and check-up sessions with your therapist.

In a Nutshell

Somatic therapy is a broad therapeutic intervention comprising allopathic and holistic approaches. It aims to connect a person’s mind and body to open up potential healing possibilities for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma. Your therapist may apply various somatic therapy exercises considering your diagnosis and symptoms intensity. Join MEDvidi to connect with our certified therapists.


3 sources
  1. Biodynamic Psychotherapy: An Overview
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  2. A Sensorimotor Approach to the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation. (2006)
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  3. Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy. (2015)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.