Somatic (Body) Psychotherapy: An Introduction
By Zur Institute
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Somatic Psychotherapy: An Introduction course (7CE)
35-Minute FREE Audio (MP3) Introduction to Somatic Psychotherapy (Transcript)
Somatic Psychotherapy is a growing field, a therapeutic orientation that is proving to be remarkably effective in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and many other issues. The field emerged in the 20th century due in large part to the influence of the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a German psychiatrist who immigrated to the United States after the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1939. Like many psychiatrists of the era, Reich's methods were unconventional and would sometimes fall below the modern day standard of care. Nonetheless, he laid the groundwork for the field of Somatic Psychotherapy with his breakthrough realization that repression and other psychological defenses happen in the body as chronic muscular tensions.
Central to Somatic Psychology is the idea that the organization of the body is the composition of the psyche. This is different from viewing the body as a metaphor. Somatic psychotherapists understand that mind and body have a continual, bi-directional feedback loop by which each informs the other. People can use their minds to affect their bodies; as well as use their bodies to affect their minds.
This branch of psychotherapy has special applications for trauma work. It assumes that people may intellectually understand that they have anxiety, depression, or trauma; however, if they continue to hold their body in a way that keeps the pain trapped, unreleased, and unhealed, they will continue to carry the damage and be unable to move through the issue.