Somatic Movement Therapy for mental wellness
Somatic movement therapy improves your mental well-being by bringing awareness to your body, bringing you into contact with your inner world, your unconscious. (Understand the neuroscience here).
The word ‘somatic’ means ‘of the body’. Through movement, we tap into the wisdom of your body.
Humans are creatures of habit. We get stuck in patterns of movement and thinking. In somatic movement therapy, we change the patterns of movement in your body and change the possibilities for your life.
How could somatic movement therapy help you?
Emotions are felt first as physical sensations within the body. Memories and feelings are stored in the somatic nervous system (in your body) as well as in the limbic part of your brain. Each emotion has its own posture. The longer you experience an emotion, the more it affects your posture. Your beliefs shape your posture.
By moving the body we gain access to those somatic memories and ‘remember’. By moving the body we release those emotions. (Learn the neuroscience behind why I get you to move and breathe in your session.)
Imagine you’re anxious and perhaps you’ve been feeling that way for a long time. Feel how tight your chest is, how rigid your shoulders are. Through movement therapy, we can alter how you feel by changing your breathing, your posture and your movement patterns.
“Faulty posture always expresses the emotional stress that has been responsible for its formation.” Moshe Feldenkrais
In your session we might work on:
- Improving your connection with your body and body awareness;
- Increasing your range of motion in your body and in parallel an increase in range in your personal life;
- Establishing a place of safety in your body, feeling you can trust your body and yourself
- Deepen your respiration
- Release physical and emotional tension
- Promote deep relaxation
- Enlarge your self-expression and promote self-confidence
Watch this TEDx Talk by Natalia Duong about how dance is used as therapy.
Where somatic movement therapy comes from
The original theories of body psychotherapy were developed by psychiatrists Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos. They based their theories on the idea that emotional and psychological tension can get trapped or held in the muscles of our body and can be released through breathing, movement and expression.
Contemporary psychiatrists Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Bessel van der Kolk, Babette Rothschild (and more) have expanded on those original theories, using neuroscience to understand how and why moving the body has such an impact on our minds and mental well-being. They also bring gentler, more trauma-sensitive ways of working with the body.
Dance-movement therapists such as Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen and Ruella Frank looked at the way that we learn to move in our early years, and conclude that missed, or dysfunctional patterns of movement in infancy can impact the way we move as an adult. Being unable to fully push, reach, grasp and yield as a baby has an impact on our way of relating to others as an adult. Restoring or relearning patterns of movement as an adult leads to an improvement in our relationships with others.
The idea is that we can impact our mental well-being by moving, breathing and expressing ourselves vocally and physically.
Shifts in well being happen when we become more aware of our body and internal sensations. We become more conscious of the wisdom of the body.
If you are anxious, you can take steps to ground yourself and bring your mind into the present.
If you’re depressed and unmotivated, let’s do some breathing and movement to increase the amount of oxygen and energy available in your body.
But don’t just take my word for it. Empirical (scientific) research undertaken on 128 people in Germany in 2006 showed that Bioenergetic exercises improved the level of anxiety, depression and social insecurity in the participants. They also had a reduction in the amount of anger they felt inside and were better at expressing themselves.
Want more of that? Contact Sarah on 0450 22 00 59
Interested in somatic movement therapy in a group?
Sarah also runs weekly somatic movement therapy sessions as part of her therapy group and regular sessions for students at the Institute of Body Psychotherapy. She has a background in Latin dance and is known for her upbeat personality and vibrancy.
Sarah offers individual somatic movement therapy sessions and corporate group movement therapy sessions (price on enquiry).
Please give Sarah a call on 0450 22 00 59 if you would like more information about this.
Who can do somatic movement therapy?
Somatic movement therapy is ideal for any body shape, any level of flexibility and any age over 18.
It is your choice to move as much or as little as you want. For example, Sarah has clients with shoulder, knee and hip replacements who work within their own limit and adapt movements to suit their own body (or just don’t do that particular movement). Please remember to move towards pleasure not pain.
These gentle grounding techniques are some that we might do at the beginning of a session to get you more present in your body:
The longing position or reverse waterfall is one of the poses we often use at the end of a session. It helps your body to release tension and let go.
(You can find more videos on the Anxiety page)
Call or SMS Sarah on 0450 22 00 59 if you have any burning questions.
If you’re not ready to book just now, you can sign up to my monthly client newsletter and see what I’m sending my clients. I never give away contact details and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Different forms of somatic movement therapy will also help you regulate your nervous system by either calming you down or letting out excess energy. Even 5 minutes of gentle walking has a very positive effect on your mood. I’ve written a blog post about the different kinds of exercise that are beneficial for anxiety and depression.
Sarah’s Depression and Anxiety Counselling Services
In addition to movement therapy, Sarah’s North Brisbane psychotherapist clinic offers:
- Body Psychotherapy
- Group Therapy
- Depression Counselling
- Relationship Counselling
- Anxiety Counselling
- Body Psychotherapy Workshops