Why the Body in Psychotherapy?
Our body contains the sum of our lived experiences. Over time these experiences, particularly negative or repetitive ones, can cause certain thought, feeling, and behavior patterns to become part of our physical structure. Often it is these patterns that cause the frustration and discomfort in daily life that brings people to therapy.
The body and mind are not separate, they work together. Incorporating the body into psychotherapy allows us to access the roots of change. Rather than talking about something, Somatic Psychotherapy gives us the opportunity to experience something. By experiencing something in the present moment, we have the opportunity to shift how it is experienced.
For example, rather than just talking about your desire to be more relaxed, we can give you the experience of relaxation and then extend that feeling outside of sessions.
Exploring your patterns in an embodied way helps us to more fully understand them. Involving therapeutic touch, mindfulness, nervous system regulation, and movement helps us to more fully address them.
We will move at your pace and engage only with what interests you.
If you are curious and would like to explore these ideas a bit try this exercise at your own pace.
Take a moment to find neutral in your body, wherever you are naturally in this moment, and notice what that feels like. Now, really crunch up your body, hunch forward, curl your shoulders in and look down at the floor. Observe what this new posture feels like inside, there might be an emotional quality that goes along with it. From this place imagine you have a big project that needs completing ahead of you, how do you feel about doing it? What thoughts and feelings come up?
Now let yourself straighten up as much as is comfortable without straining. Take three full deep breaths that fill up as much of the 360 degrees of your lungs as feels right for you. While you do this let your eyes and jaw relax. What’s it like to think about that big project from this place? Notice the thoughts and feelings that go along with this new posture.
There is no right answer or experience here, but hopefully you were able to get a sense of what a profound role our body plays in determining what we feel, think, and choose to do.
An illustration of this concept can be found in the way the sea anemone closes up when something unknown swims by. It changes its shape to protect itself. Humans do the same thing, only in a more subtle way. That is, emotions and thoughts take shape in our physical form and our bodies reflect our thoughts and experiences.