Somatic Therapy

Somatic Integration Therapy

It can appear contradictory to differentiate and separate the various parts and aspects of the body when speaking of holistic therapy. However, by singling out body parts and discover their structure, qualities and characteristics we are made aware what parts are more dominant and outspoken in the ‘body community’ and what parts are more quiet. Somatic integration therapy offers these more quiet and needy parts support and gives them a stronger voice whilst reassuring the more dominant voices by firmly listening to them and encouraging them to calm down. For example a stimulated nervous system that is full of adrenaline will be encouraged to calm down whilst giving more support to the flow of fluids through the body that feeds free movement and creativity, previously unnoticed in the somatic body community. The somatic work facilitates a consultative process between a range of diverse voices and ‘minds’ in the body to enable them to find unity of vision from which action naturally flows with ease and joy. All aspects of the body become aware of each other and are less likely to dominate over one another, but rather listens with love and understanding. Training the conscious mind in this way forces us to slow down and attend to the less desirable parts and voices of ourselves, which is the only way to find true inner integration and harmony.

Re-patterning destructive behavioural and postural patterns

People are habitual beings. We are conditioned and learn behaviours as we grow up that stay with us until we concisely become aware of them in adult years and reassess them. This is true for the way we use our body in different postural patterns. Take the simple act of sitting, something we do from the early schools days, at the dinner table and later at the office desk. Never paying a conscious thought of what might be the most resourceful and energy efficient way of using our back and front muscles to sit comfortable upright we develop poor postural habits that contracts muscle groups unnecessarily giving us back pain or collapsed posture. Somatic integration therapy help the client become aware of their current way of sitting and how uncomfortable it is, whilst gradually supporting them in experiencing how they can do this in a more relaxed and supportive way in line with their body’s structure. The process uses the classical learning experience that moves from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally unconscious competence. The somatic therapist gives more input in the start of the re-patterning process but gradually hand it over to the client that becomes more able to move in a way that serves them. Passing through the painful second stage with patience and compassion for oneself in the learning process is rewarded at the end then the new pattern and postural habit is there without the client even thinking about it. In the example of sitting a lot of the work is done lying on the ground in the horizontal plane as there is benefit in solving a problem in another plane to the one it was created in (vertical). By experiencing what it feels to be relaxed in the back muscles whilst lying down will help anchor the same feelings when in seated position.

The process of differentiation and integration

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This Gestalt principle holds true for somatic integration therapy. The differentiation process is about getting to know each of the diverse parts of the body community, but rather than doing this in isolation they become known within their relationship to the other parts of the body. If an inner conflict is made known dialogue is facilitated between the opposing parts. Within this body dialogue the client acts out all the parties involved by moving and speaking from their unique perspective. They also act as an external observer to the process which always brings a deeper understanding for the needs expressed and begins a process of reconciliation. The aim of somatic integration therapy is to create unity between all the diverse body parts and experience a sense of oneness. These diverse parts are immersed in a complex network of relationships that together give rise to the highly functioning whole organism of the human being. Experiencing this oneness is vitalising as it allows energy to flow in abundance to all body parts, leaving noone to suffer in isolation. I like using this analogy for the wider world we live in where we currently see a lack of unity between groups of people. Areas that are more comfortable don’t take responsibility for the whole by desiring to numb and forget the pain and suffering other communities go through. Yet all parties are affected by the global suffering as the human body is one, and it will continue until we all work towards unity in diversity through a process of listening, understanding and integrating.