Mental health issues have considerably increased in recent years with 1 in every 8 people (12.5%) suffering from a mental disorder. Somatic therapy is an effective method to address many of these problems, especially trauma and stress. It uses both the mind and body to reduce anxiety and depression by focusing on physical sensations, mindfulness, and exercises.
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Depression and anxiety soared to 28% and 25% respectively during the pandemic, increasing the need for online therapy. Somatic therapy online can add a layer of comfort and flexibility, making treatments more effective.
This article explores the benefits of somatic therapy online and how it can help people overcome their mental health issues.
Data Source: The Lancet
(Y-axis: Number of people in millions)
What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy employs a mixture of mindfulness and body techniques to release emotions ‘trapped’ deep inside people. One major difference between somatic therapy and psychotherapy is that the former also focuses on the body in addition to the mind.
According to one study, somatic therapy is effective in treating PTSD using an integrated body-focused approach.
However, its scope is not limited to PTSD. It can be used for various pervasive mental illnesses, including:
- Stress-induced problems such as sleep problems, intimacy issues, and muscle pain
- Physical discomfort, such as digestive issues.
Why Should I Choose Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy is a powerful tool to improve your mental health through a mind-body interaction. One recent study found preliminary evidence that somatic therapy has a positive impact on trauma patients. Choosing somatic therapy can help you take control of your feelings and channel them more positively.
- Fighting Trauma: By deeply understanding your bodily sensations, you can release hidden traumas through physical movements.
- Mitigating Physical Pain: If you have a history of physical health issues linked with stress or trauma, somatic therapy can help you overcome them.
- Creating A Toolkit: You can also create an experiential toolkit that you can recall whenever undergoing physical or mental trauma to calm yourself down.
- Building resilience: By practicing mindfulness alongside physical movements, you can build resilience to counter future mental health problems.
Types of Somatic Therapy
The main concept of somatic therapy emphasizes bodily sensations to treat stress and trauma. However, several types of somatic therapies use different variations of the main concept.
- Somatic Experiencing: One of the most widely used alternate therapy methods that focuses on bodily movements to understand and address stress and trauma.
- Hakomi Method: The Hakomi method is based on the idea of mind-body relationship with a focus on physical movements as insights into the unconscious.
- Neurosomatic Therapy: This method focuses more on the physical symptoms (than emotional causes) and digs deep into the neurotic reasonings of stress and trauma.
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: One of the more advanced therapies that integrates psychotherapy and somatic therapy. It provides closure to the patients by making them relive the trauma and take actions that they couldn’t take before.
- EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy uses eye movements to reduce the effect of trauma on the patient. It utilizes past patient trauma momentarily to reduce the overall intensity of the disorder.
Benefits of Online Somatic Therapy
Many patients believe that online therapy is effective and are satisfied with the mode of treatment. Somatic therapy online can also successfully treat patients with a focus on mind-body fulfillment.
1. Better Availability
Somatic therapists are fewer in number as they are less popular compared to psychotherapists. This means longer appointment times, higher charges, and longer commutes for many people. With online somatic therapy, you can easily find the best somatic therapists worldwide. This allows you to research and compare the different somatic therapists and opt for the one that best suits your needs.
2. More Inclusive
Somatic therapy often makes use of physical movements, including different postures, gestures, and even dance therapy for treatment. Many people feel uncomfortable performing these physical movements in an unfamiliar physical setting. Online somatic therapy provides a comfortable alternative where people can perform these physical gestures in a familiar place. Many traditional therapist offices have limited space. This restricts movement flexibility, which is solved through online therapy.
3. Easy Integration
The healing process becomes more effective online as people apply physical techniques in the stress-inducing environment. Many somatic exercises incorporate various objects, such as pillows or sofas, into their treatment routines. Online somatic therapy becomes particularly relevant when patients use objects from their home setting to perform the exercises.
4. Digital Convenience
Online resources such as videos of physical movements are often used by somatic therapists in online settings. This helps them observe the bodily changes closely and make important observations for therapy. Recorded session videos are useful for patients who may want to rewatch the videos later to build resilience against trauma.
What To Expect in Online Somatic Therapy
Somatic therapy focuses on addressing physical symptoms so that the underlying psychological issues can be dealt with effectively. Each session is tailored depending on the patient’s needs and severity, but you can expect the following approaches in online somatic therapy:
1. Body Awareness
In body awareness sessions, the goal is to recognize physical pain points to reduce their impact. This can be achieved using different body movements, such as changes in posture and gesture.
Breathing techniques are frequently used to improve breathing patterns, improving the patient’s overall mental state. Visualization can also be used to simulate secure physical sensations when under stress, helping you fight negative feelings.
2. Exposure Sessions
Many therapists also use exposure methods to document changes in bodily reactions. One common method is titration, where the patient is exposed to a traumatic memory or episode, and the body’s reaction is noted.
Grounding is another online method that helps a person recount their emotional experience through their bodily gesture. Exposure provides therapists with important information about trauma and stress, which is incorporated into the treatment.
3. Positive Association
This method uses techniques such as recalling happy memories or places to induce a sense of calmness. Sometimes, an advanced treatment may also be used to guide people from a calm state to trauma and back again.
Similarly, redefining different boundaries, such as social or cultural to increase the sense of protection is also widely used. These methods focus on relaxing the patient and providing them with positive tools to address trauma and stress.
Steps to Prepare for Online Somatic Therapy
Preparing beforehand for online somatic therapy can help you build a quick connection with the therapist. Moreover, being well-prepared can also positively impact the pace of therapy.
1. Building a Comfortable Environment
It is important to be comfortable and relaxed for somatic therapy to be effective. Make sure to choose a quiet corner of your house with adequate space for physical movement. It is also a good idea to have a few familiar items closeby, such as memorable photographs to calm yourself down.
2. Getting Accustomed to the Online Tools
Most somatic therapists use online video conferencing tools for the sessions, such as Zoom, Skype, or Teams. If you have not used these tools before, it is recommended that you set up them before time.
Double-check your computer’s specifications to ensure it is compatible with these online digital platforms. Also, make sure to have a working internet connection and a backup (like a mobile phone) to stay connected.
3. Attending the First Online Somatic Therapy Session
Typically, the first online somatic session is focused on the patient’s history. Many somatic therapists are interested in understanding the severity of the stress or trauma of their patients. You can expect a casual conversation with the therapist online with some beginning somatic exercises such as breathing exercises.
4. Follow-up Online Somatic Therapy Sessions
In the follow-up somatic therapy sessions, the therapists will guide you to release trauma through bodily techniques. It may take a couple of sessions to adjust to the online experience for somatic therapy. However, once comfortable, therapy can proceed at a quick pace, assisting you in building resilience against stress and trauma.