Somatic Therapy: Heal the Body, Heal the Mind
by The Mind Faculty
Until recently, Western medicine has treated body and mind differently. However, we know that this is not the case. For example, we can experience mentally by overthinking, second guessing ourselves and catastrophizing. We may also feel it as a tightness in our chest, a disruption in our sleeping pattern or by the nerves fluttering in our stomach.
Emotional and traumatic events can affect our automatic nervous system, such as our baseline of stress hormones. Anxiety is a safety-seeking behaviour. Someone who suffers from anxiety may not be able to regulate their stress hormones and consequently, they may be trapped in their fight or flight response. This can explain why people with anxiety may feel that something bad is going to happen: it is because our body is telling us that we are in danger, which influences our thoughts.
Somatic therapy focuses on the mind-body connection to help you align their emotional experience with their physical one. Somatic therapy can help you to feel safe in your body by helping you to become familiar with the emotions that arise in your body, and teach you how to tolerate and manage them. There is freedom in releasing: somatic therapy can help us to access the places in the body where we are holding onto things when we feel physical or emotional pain.
This is particularly helpful for people who suffer from PTSD, where the trauma feels very much alive and takes the form of flashbacks, and extreme physical and emotional reactions to reminders of the trauma.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
When a traumatic or stressful experience happens, the brain may not store this memory correctly. Instead the memory floats around the forefront of your mind where it can be easily triggered by reminders. EMDR uses eye movements to help us to process this memory, reframe it positively and integrate it within our framework of meaning. You can more about it here.
Acupuncture helps us to balance the energy in our body. This traditional therapy can address stress, low energy, sleep difficulties and moods - complaints that are often suffered by those with anxiety or depression. Once we start address the physical manifestations of our mental health challenges, we can start to address the mental and emotional aspects.
The deep stretches help us to release any tension that we hold in our body, and the deep breathing switches us from our 'fight or flight mode' to our 'rest and digest system'. The focus on aligning breath and movement in yoga can help us to strengthen our mind-body connection.
The Mind Faculty offers EMDR, acupuncture for mental health, and yoga therapy as part of our holistic approach to mental health. If you are interested in making an appointment, please get in touch with us (firstname.lastname@example.org).