WHY A SOMATIC APPROACH?
To hear leaders in the field of trauma speak about the brain and why it makes sense to incorporate a Somatic approach (that which incorporates the body) to the treatment of trauma click HERE.
My own professional experience mirrors what recent research in the field of trauma has proven. I began working in the field of trauma in 2005 using cognitive and behavioral exposure approaches. What my clinical experience showed me was that for most people with PTSD, C-PTSD, and/or Dissociative Disorders this type of treatment did not suffice. Many of the clients I worked with not only continued to experience significant post-traumatic stress symptoms (hypervigilance, exaggerated startle reflex, physical responses to triggers, concentration problems, sleep issues, emotional numbing, avoidance, difficulties in emotion regulation, self-concept, and relational capacities, and dissociation), but these symptoms increased in severity and did not subside, despite adhering to the therapies. Over the next 10 years I became more interested in Mindfulness, Yoga, and other Eastern Contemplative Practices both personally and professionally. My own journey combined with my experience with clients led me to Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, a cutting-edge therapy designed to treat traumatic and developmental wounds that combines the most current research in neuroscience, affect regulation, and attachment theory. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy incorporates working with the body in therapy, as well as with emotions and cognitions, in order to help survivors of trauma heal.
"Only one therapy I know of reaches as deeply into the body as it does into the mind, and by reaching for both, touches the soul."
-Ron Kurtz, (Founder of the Hakomi Method), on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy dates back to the early 1970's when, founder, Pat Ogden, was working at a psychiatric hospital and became interested in the correlation between her clients' disconnection from their bodies, their physical patterns, and their psychological issues. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy joins somatic therapy and psychotherapy into a comprehensive method for healing the disconnection between body and mind. In 1981, after co-founding the Hakomi Institute, pioneered by Ron Kurtz, Dr. Ogden founded her own school, a branch of the Hakomi Institute, which is known today as the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI).
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy draws from somatic therapies, neuroscience, attachment theory, and cognitive approaches, as well as from the Hakomi Method. In Sensorimotor Psychotherapy emphasis is placed on resourcing the body with the goal of developing new responses to traumatic memories and triggers in order to change the outdated habitual responses that arose from the traumatic event and which create the constellation of symptoms that together comprise PTSD. Mindfulness is employed as the pathway to bringing the frontal cortex back "on line," and for learning to modulate one's arousal level.
To hear a brief case history that demonstrates how the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy approach follows the wisdom of the body to discover the path to healing, click HERE.
To hear an example that demonstrates how a Sensorimotor Psychotherapist might employ psycho-education and physical action to help clients find a sense of safety click HERE.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy teaches that there are five core organizers of experience:
Cognition, including our thoughts and the meanings we attribute to ourselves and the world;
Emotions, including feeling tones and moods;
Five sense ‘perceptions,’ or what we notice through our five senses;
Movements, both large and small, voluntary and involuntary; and
Inner body sensations, such as constriction in the chest when anxious, tightness in the throat accompanying the wish to cry, or a pang in the gut when overwhelmed by sadness.
Using sensorimotor techniques, I work collaboratively with clients to explore how these core organizers activate arousal and traumatic defenses (and interact with emotions and cognitions), and we work with them to find what deactivates them. Clients who have experienced this approach describe the interventions as gentle, empowering, and leading to a more complete healing. To consult or schedule an appointment with me, call (206) 819-8042, email me at: email@example.com, or click HERE.