The Importance of Somatic Psychotherapy Techniques

Most forms of psychotherapy used for mental health treatment are mind-oriented. In other words, they focus on how your thoughts and emotions affect your mental well-being. Therapy of this type is an invaluable tool for healing and recovery.

However, it is not the only worthwhile option. In addition, you may benefit from psychotherapy that focuses on your body. This approach is known as somatic therapy.

Research shows that somatic therapy can play an important role in the treatment of many mental illnesses. The list of these illnesses includes PTSD, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Somatic techniques also provide benefits in situations where mind-oriented therapy may not be enough for your recovery. This means that somatic therapy near you may form an important part of your overall treatment plan.

What Is Somatic Therapy

What Is Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is also known as body-oriented psychotherapy. This term does not describe a single approach to mental health treatment. Instead, it describes a wide range of therapeutic techniques.

All somatic therapy techniques follow core principles that include:

  • Focusing on some aspect of the body or the body’s processes
  • Not treating the body as separate from the mind
  • Using body-oriented practices to improve the outcome of therapy

In the majority of cases, the body is also viewed as a source of non-verbal information. This means that somatic therapy helps you access thoughts and emotions you cannot express verbally.

In fact, you might not even be aware of those things without using a somatic approach.

Typically, somatic therapy does not play a standalone role in mental health care. Instead, you receive this kind of therapy in combination with other treatment options.

Somatic treatment is therefore viewed as complementary. Rather than replacing other options, it widens your overall recovery resources.

Types of Somatic Therapy: Different Somatic Therapy Techniques

You may find a wide variety of options for somatic therapy near you. Some of these options are quite different from each other. Others are quite similar, or even overlapping. Main examples of available types of somatic therapy include:

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing is based on the principle that your body can get “stuck” after a traumatic event. Instead of letting go of the stress, you retain it and never finish processing it. During treatment, your therapist will re-expose you to controlled amounts of traumatic material.

This is followed by observation of how your body reacts. Afterward, you are exposed to comforting material that helps offset the traumatic material. This alternating cycle is repeated.

Over time, it teaches you how to self-regulate your emotions and process the effects of trauma.

Body Awareness Therapy

Body awareness therapy teaches you how to be mindful of the actions and reactions occurring inside your body. This activity happens constantly day and night.

However, for the most part, it stays below the level of consciousness. Only when major activities occur do we pay attention to what is happening. As a result, you may miss the warning signs of harmful reactions in your mind and body.

By becoming more aware of what happens inside your body, you develop a better feel for your mind and body responses. In turn, you may find it easier to process daily reality in ways that promote well-being.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Somatic therapy techniques in this category combine body work with traditional talk therapy. Similarly to somatic experiencing, the therapy focuses on stuck or uncompleted actions inside your body.

Specific methods vary from case to case. In one common approach, your therapist asks you to talk about a past traumatic event. As you do so, you also report on your bodily responses to what you are discussing.

Your therapist will then ask you to focus on those responses. As you work through them, you learn how to complete them and restore a sense of equilibrium.

Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation therapy is the umbrella term for various techniques that help you lower your stress levels. They do so in two main ways. First, they help make you more aware of your body.

In addition, relaxation therapies strive to create a calming effect inside your mind. As a result, they help improve both your mental and physical health. Specific examples of relaxation therapy techniques include:

  • Visualization
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Autogenic relaxation


Breathwork is a general term for any technique that uses changes in your normal breathing to improve well-being. All of these techniques are performed in an organized way under your conscious control. Like relaxation therapy, breathwork often has a calming effect.

Specific forms of the practice include such things as:

  • Color breathwork
  • Clarity breathwork
  • Transformational breathwork
  • Shamanic breathwork

Mind-Body Interventions

Mind-body interventions explicitly connect the health of your mind with the health of your body. They also make use of this connection to improve your sense of well-being.

Relaxation therapy and breathwork can both be viewed as mind-body interventions. The category also include techniques such as:

  • Meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Qigong
  • Hypnosis

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR

This therapy was developed as a treatment for PTSD. It can also be used in the treatment of other mental health conditions. During EMDR, you focus on traumatic memories while making specific movements with your eyes.

Over time, these combined actions help make you less sensitive to those painful memories. EMDR also involves a body-scanning process that helps you address any additional areas of tension.  

Somatic Therapy Exercises

There are many different types of somatic therapy exercises. In fact, each form of the therapy includes exercises of some kind. For example, relaxation techniques often include a body scan.

During a scan, you gradually move your attention through various parts of your body. The exercise helps you increase awareness of your body in general.

It also helps you pick up on subtle changes in your bodily reactions. In addition, scanning promotes full-body relaxation.

As a rule, breathwork centers on very detailed exercises for breath manipulation. Each of these exercises requires you to follow a preset pattern of breathing. Examples of common preset techniques include:

  • Box breathing
  • Alternate nostril breathing
  • Diaphragmatic breathing

Benefits of Somatic Therapy Training

Studies show that there is significant evidence for the benefits of somatic therapy training. Many of these benefits apply to the treatment of major mental illnesses.

For example, research supports the usefulness of breathing in treating serious anxiety. It may also help in the treatment of depression. Along with EMDR, somatic experiencing appears to be effective in PTSD treatment.

Evidence also supports the use of mind-body interventions for people with PTSD. Sensorimotor therapy may produce similar benefits. In addition, there is evidence for the usefulness of body awareness therapy  in the treatment of personality disorders.

Seeking Somatic Therapy in Arizona

Seeking Somatic Therapy in Arizona

Somatic therapy is increasingly coming into use for mental health treatment. However, this does not mean that all programs offer this option. In fact, depending on where you live, you may or may not find a local provider.

If you live in or near an urban center, there is a high chance that you will find one. However, options may be limited or non-existent in less populated areas.

What about somatic therapy in Arizona? The same basic factors apply. In more populated regions, you may enjoy ready access to somatic therapy near you.

But if you live further away from a metropolitan center, you may need to travel for this form of care.

Learn More About the Benefits of Somatic Healing Near You

What is somatic therapy? The term applies to a diverse field of body-oriented treatments. By focusing on your body, these treatments help you in ways not possible in traditional talk therapy.

However, somatic therapy does not replace other recovery options. Instead, is it complementary and works together with these options.

The most common choices for somatic therapy are evidence-based. This means that high-quality research supports their usefulness. The list of mental illnesses known to benefit from somatic methods ranges from PTSD to personality disorders.

The use of somatic therapy is becoming more and more widespread. Still, not all mental health providers offer this form of treatment. Your chances of finding a reputable provider are highest in urban areas.

Still, even in these areas, not all programs feature somatic therapy. In addition, not all programs that do offer this therapy rely on evidence-based techniques. For these reasons, no matter where you live, you must pick your provider carefully. To learn more about the benefits of somatic therapy, call Emerald Isle Recovery today.

Our in-house specialists have the knowledge needed to help you sort through your potential options. Emerald Isle is also a trusted provider of somatic treatments in the greater Phoenix area. In all cases, we customize those treatments for your particular mental health issue.

We also incorporate them into a full plan that supports all of your recovery needs. This personalized approach helps you get the most from inpatient or outpatient mental health care. With our help, you can make lasting progress on your journey toward short- and long-term well-being.