Trauma is not just an event that happened in the past that you can’t seem to forget. Instead, it leaves a physical imprint on your body that can change how your brain stores memories.
Trauma Lives in the Body
When trauma is left untreated, it can significantly impact your future health. According to Harvard Medical School research, the emotional and physical reactions it triggers can make you more prone to severe health conditions, including heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
Trauma lives in the body through stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can cause changes in the brain that make you more reactive and less able to cope with stress. Trauma also affects the immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness.
However, there is hope. Some trauma-informed therapies can help us release the trauma from our bodies and start healing.
What Are Somatic Therapies?
Somatic therapies are also referred to as mind-body therapies. Mind-body therapies use a bottom-up approach, which means they work with the physical body to heal the mind.
These therapies center on the belief that the mind and body are connected and that we can also heal the mind by healing the body. Somatic therapies can be used to treat a variety of mental and emotional health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and trauma. These therapies can also improve overall well-being and quality of life.
Somatic Experiencing Therapy
One such mind-body therapy that has gained much attention in recent years is Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE is a type of therapy designed to help people who have experienced trauma.
The therapy centers on the principle that trauma is stored in the body through the “freeze response” and that by working with the body, it is possible to release the trauma and return to a state of balance. Somatic experiencing therapy uses various techniques, including mindfulness, body awareness, and movement, to help people heal.
In SE, the therapist works with the client to help them identify and release the stored trauma and develop skills for managing stress and emotions. In addition, the therapist may also work with the client’s family or other support systems to help them understand and support the client’s healing process.
Somatic experiencing therapy effectively treats various conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
While somatic therapies were initially developed to treat trauma, many techniques can be applied in any situation where the nervous system becomes dysregulated. Some of the concepts used are:
- Body awareness: In somatic experiencing, the first step is to become aware of our bodies and tune into the sensations we experience. In somatic therapy, we educate clients about body awareness and how to cultivate body awareness in and around their bodies. For example, in SE, the therapist will help you identify areas of tension and constriction in the body. When we connect and tune in to our bodily sensations, we get to know the wisdom of the body and its ability to heal.
- Resourcing: Resourcing is a technique used in somatic therapies, such as Somatic Experiencing Therapy, to help identify safety and wellness resources the client already has. This can be done through different resourcing states, such as imagining a safe place or recalling a time when the client felt strong and capable. Resourcing can also be done through bodywork and movement, which can help the client to connect with their body and feel more grounded. Resourcing is integral to the healing process, as it can help the client feel more connected to their strength and resiliency.
- Grounding: Grounding is a central technique in somatic experiencing and other mind-body therapies. This practice supports us in becoming more present in our bodies. We can better regulate our nervous system and heal from trauma when we are grounded. The goal of grounding is to help us connect with our body sensations to feel safe and secure in the present moment. Common grounding techniques include focusing on the breath, grounding through the senses, and connecting with the body’s felt sense. By practicing grounding, we can learn to calm the nervous system and better understand presence and well-being.
Other Mind-Body Practices
Most people are familiar with yoga and meditation as two popular ways to practice mind-body connection. Both of these practices involve cultivating awareness and curiosity regarding our experiences. Integrating yoga and meditation into your self-care may yield significant benefits and help you resolve trauma stuck in the body.
Any practice involving awareness of the body’s sensations, movements, and breathing can help improve mind-body communication and reduce stress. Self-massage and aromatherapy are also helpful in promoting relaxation and encouraging a mind-body connection. We can improve our overall health and well-being by taking some time each day to focus on the mind-body connection.
If you feel trauma is interfering with living the life you want to live, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Somatic therapies, including somatic experiencing, are becoming increasingly popular as treatments for trauma. These therapies are based on the idea that trauma is not just a psychological phenomenon but also a physical one. Trauma is stored in the body as well as the mind, and somatic therapies aim to release this trapped energy on a cellular level. Somatic experiencing is a specific type of somatic therapy that is particularly effective for treating trauma. It is a gentle, gradual process that helps the client to slowly and safely face and release the stored energy of trauma. This can be an incredibly healing process that can help free the client from the past and allow them to move forward into the future. If you are struggling with trauma, somatic interventions may help you heal. To learn more about trauma and effective treatments, call Restoration Recovery Center today at (888) 290-0925.