10 reasons to try somatic psychotherapy
Most people have preconceptions of therapy based on what you’ve seen on TV: the client lying back on a sofa whilst their therapist sits behind them taking notes. That may happen in the movies but most modern therapy doesn’t look remotely like that. And it certainly doesn’t look like that with me.
I’m a somatic psychotherapist and dance-movement therapist, which is a really long-winded way of saying I include your body in the therapy as well as your thoughts.
Up to 90% of our communication is non-verbal – so we’re including that 90% in your session.
People sometimes tell me that it took a few months to work up the courage to call me. I’m so grateful that they did, but I wish I could have told them earlier that there is nothing to fear from coming to chat to me. I like to use humour to make therapy a little more ‘normal’. I’m hoping this article will help you understand why somatic psychotherapy is actually something to look forward to.
So let’s dispel some myths and give you the lo-down on what a somatic psychotherapy session is all about. Here are 10 reasons you should try somatic psychotherapy:
Somatic psychotherapy therapy is all about you
Let’s talk about the most interesting topic in the universe. YOU.
How often do you get to say “It’s all about ME!”? This is one hour that’s totally dedicated to you and your wellbeing. Not the kids, not your partner. Just YOU.
Ok we might also talk about other people because I’m assuming you don’t live on a desert island, and that you interact with others on a regular basis. And some of them might act like total dicks sometimes. So yes, we can talk about them but let’s focus on how it affected you, and perhaps even your part in all of this.
Somatic psychotherapy is all about you and what your body is telling you. You can lie to yourself about how much you LOVE your job. Or I might cough politely in a terribly posh English manner and bring to your attention the change in your posture or facial expression.
Perhaps we will do some breathing exercises to calm or energise you. Or maybe I might get you to show me what something feels like in your body by making a gesture.
You actually do this stuff all day long. Up to 90% of our communication is non-verbal. We’re just bringing awareness to it to help you dive deeper in your limbic (emotional) mind.
You can lie to yourself with your thoughts and convince yourself of pretty much anything. But your body doesn’t lie.
Somatic psychotherapy will give you tips and techniques to regulate your nervous system
Let’s ‘science the shit out of this thing’ – just even a teensy bit of info about your nervous system (and how it is always trying to protect you) can help you understand what’s going on in your body and be more like “ohhh that’s why that’s happening”, which makes it much less scary.
I’ll also give you tips and techniques – breathing exercises, calming gestures – to help you self-regulate your nervous system. Hopefully, some you can do in public without looking like a wierdo.
Somatic psychotherapy and dance-movement therapy are not necessarily about ‘dancing’
Yes, I trained in dance movement therapy. But I know most people are allergic to the words ‘dance’ and would rather eat possum poo than dance. So, there’ll be no pirouetting here unless you are an actual ballerina and you want to show me your moves.
Somatic psychotherapy with me is more about getting you to be aware of your body: the sensations, changes in breathing and posture.
From a dance movement therapy perspective I’m getting you to notice how you move, how you don’t move, and where you might be restricted. And work out what meaning you might make of that. Are you curious???
Therapy is not all doom and gloom – we can laugh at the dark times too
People don’t come to therapy because their life is all rainbows and unicorns. Something in their life is painful or going wrong, and they need some support around it. However, that doesn’t mean that therapy needs to be all doom and gloom.
People often use humour as a way of coping with the dark stuff. Sometimes we’re roaring with laughter one minute and crying the next.
I’m not afraid of big emotions – they just want to be felt and moved through you. No matter what you fear, you will stop crying and I will ground and centre you before you leave, so that you can face the world outside without streaky mascara.
You can really be yourself in your therapy session
Many of us are terrified of showing the real us to our friends or family, for fear of being rejected. Unfortunately, this means that only the parts of you that are shown to the world receive love, leaving parts of you unseen, unheard and unloved. (I’ve written a blog post on it – Can I be me?)
I want to see the real you. Think of therapy as testing ground – you get to test out new behaviours and ideas with me before you take it out in to the real world.
I encourage you to really be yourself in your therapy session. Swear away my fellow swear bears. And if that means dropping the F-bomb, go ahead. You don’t have to hold back on my account.
I am known to be a little bit sweary myself (much to my mother’s horror. Hopefully it’s more Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and less Chopper Reed).
Did you know that swearing is a sign of higher intelligence? If the King Charles III can swear about leaky fountain pens, then maybe it’s OK for the plebs too 🙂
Feeling ‘stuck’? Somatic psychotherapy will help you move thro it (literally)
Literally everyone on the planet is afraid of something. Often the thing you long for is the thing you are most afraid of. So let’s talk through the things you’re afraid of and see what’s holding you back. Maybe you can’t even put it into words, so we can simply focus on the sensations you feel in your body.
A lot of people come to me saying “I’m stuck”. They usually know where they want to go and what they have to do to get there. It’s just scary. So that’s what we work on. We talk and move through it.
Often on the other side of fear is your greatness. (Hmm I wonder what glorious future you dream of moving into…)
Sharing your ‘stuff’ blasts shame out to the stratosphere
Shame grows in a vacuum of silence. Sharing your shameful stuff with me shines a light on it and diminishes shame’s power over you.
By bringing this stuff out into the open you find out that you’re not the only human on this planet who has done similar things or who’s gone through this stuff. You’ll realise that you are actually a ‘normal’ human being undergoing a very human experience.
Zero craziness or weirdness. (Actually, you might be weird, but I like weird…).
Somatic psychotherapy is confidential
“The first rule of Fight Club is: that you do not talk about Fight Club”.
Nobody has to even know that you see me. Not your mum, not your work, not your partner. If someone asked me if I was treating you, I would simply reply “I’m not allowed to disclose the names of my clients”.
I’m your therapist, not your friend, sister, aunt. What you say to me is completely ring-fenced. Nothing you say in your session is ever going to come back and bite you on the bum or be used against you in an argument.
Unless you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, it is 100% confidential.
Somatic psychotherapy is non-judgemental
Therapy is non-judgmental. You don’t have to please me or impress me or be all Zen-goddess. I’m human so you can be too. I care about your wellbeing and happiness, that’s all.
Having evil thoughts about your boss? Yep they’re probably an idiot, but let’s look at how you might establish some boundaries, or speak up for what you need.
Had an affair? Let’s talk about what was missing from your relationship to make you look outside.
Do you keep going back to a partner that doesn’t treat you very well? I won’t judge you for this or be upset about it. Let’s talk about what you get (and don’t get) out of that relationship. Let’s look at what you might subconsciously be trying to ‘win’ under the surface.
In somatic psychotherapy you get to have choice
There are times in life where you have had no choice and no control over your life. So in therapy it is important to know that you have a choice. It’s your session and you are in control.
In somatic psychotherapy sessions I aim to always offer you the choice to do this breathing exercise or that movement experiential, and you can always say no. I have no attachment to whether you try out one of my ideas or we just chat. It’s your session.
We don’t have to talk about your past if you don’t want to. We can just work with the present. Although it can be helpful to talk about the past in some cases, it’s up to you whether we dredge it up or not.
In some cases, for example traumatic events, I’m going to suggest that we actually don’t talk about it – because talking through traumatic events can actually re-traumatise you. In those circumstances, we would just work with the sensations happening in your body right now.
And bonus number 11…I go to therapy too
I have my own somatic psychotherapist. I’ve seen someone every 2 weeks since 2012. In the beginning it was to work through my own shizz and learn about myself. Now it’s still that, but it’s also to make sure that I don’t transfer my stuff onto you. So that I can be a clean slate and hold space for you. Because see point 1 – it’s all about you.
So there you have it
Zero wierdness. No requirement to dance. We’re simply involving the 80% of non-verbal communication – your body language. Want to give it a go? See below…
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If you’re ready to take the next step, book in for a free 15-min discovery telephone call so we can talk about what’s going on for you and make sure we’re the right for each other
Want to read something else?
How about Can I be me?
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