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Somatic Experience

Here at Solutions Counseling, we offer a variety of modalities during our counseling sessions to help our patients address the issues they are facing in their lives. One such method is called somatic experiencing. All of our experiences make an imprint our bodies and our nervous systems. This type of therapy looks at how our troubling experiences affect the nervous system. When faced with difficult life events our bodies react with a fight, flight or freeze response. These responses are triggered causing us to respond with anxiety, anger, numbness, dissociation, and other ways that create patterns of suffering. By looking at our bodies, we can help complete the nervous system response and allow for new ways of interacting with the world.

How Does Somatic Experiencing Work?

Somatic Experiencing, like other forms of individual counseling in Louisville, is focused on treating the underlying reactions in your body to treat depressed mood, anxiety, anger, substance abuse, pain syndromes and much more.

Somatic Experiencing is offered in our outpatient program or as an adjunct to our Intensive Outpatient Program. This type of therapy helps us look at the whole person, addressing the meaning, memories, emotions, body sensations and behaviors that affect the person.

Somatic, which translates to “relating to the body” or “of the body,” looks at how the body reacts to life events. It’s considered a wholistic treatment because it works to heal the mind, body, and emotions. Somatic experiencing can be used to treat PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and even address pain and muscle tension associated with particularly traumatic events.

Somatic experiencing works by helping you address any trauma that remains in your body. Due to human consciousness, we often tap down the fight or flight response the body automatically engages when it feels threatened. However, because of this, that traumatic energy is not released. This has physical consequences as well as mental and emotional ones. By addressing any lingering trauma, you can free it from your body and work through the emotions associated with it.

The Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response

The fight or flight response kicks in when you are faced with a physical threat. Our bodies often interpret a threat when there is no actual threat, such as those who fear public speaking or things that may threaten our self-esteem or feelings of competence. The body instinctively wants to either escape the situation or fight to defend. Often, though, we simply can’t do either or choose not to which results in a freeze response.

Our bodies can continue to hold the fight, flight or freeze responses when they are unable to be released. This often has us stuck in patterns of anger, anxiety, depression, or other states. Somatic Experiencing can help release these nervous system responses in a safe and healthy way.

The Somatic Experience Process

During your counseling session that focuses on somatic experiencing, we will focus on your body and how it reacted to the event. We will first do some background work, learning about the nervous system and how the flight or fight response kicks in. This will help you more fully understand what your body goes through during a traumatic event and how the somatic experience will help.

Next, we move into the stage called resourcing. Here, we will help you select memories that you associate with positive emotions. These memories can be of events, places, people, or anything else you want. The goal is to find memories that you can draw strength from and that give you peace. You may want to come up with several memories you can draw on, each of which is associated with a different emotion.

After you have selected your memories, we move on to the next part of the method. You and your therapist will work through the body’s responses to memories and events in your life. You will then work your way through that memory, paying attention to how your body reacts. This reaction may include tensing up, breathing more rapidly, sweating, or even feeling numb or dizzy.

As you allow your body to release your incomplete nervous system response, your therapist will guide you into thinking of one of your resource memories. This is a very gentle approach to treatment which allows you and your therapist to work on large issues but taking them very slowly and manageably. This approach is about slowly decreasing what is called the “trauma vortex”. The trauma vortex is the overwhelming responses from your past.

Factors that Affect Somatic Experiencing

There are a few different factors that will affect somatic experiencing and the pace at which you move through it. The major factor is how much trauma you may have experienced. The goal is to address this slowly and comfortably so that you do not enter your trauma vortex. This approach works well with addiction treatment since the goal is to minimize the overwhelming feelings that you may experience.

If you get too overwhelmed, all of those emotions may actually push you to relapse as a way of dealing with them. Our team makes certain that any patient going through individual counseling in Louisville at Solutions Counseling that you address your issues at a manageable pace.

How Solutions Counseling Center Can Help You with Somatic Experiencing

It’s absolutely vital that you go through somatic experiencing with one of the professional therapists at Solutions Counseling instead of trying to do it on your own. We act as guides through the process, and we are always ready to find ways to help you resource to prevent entering the trauma vortex. On your own, you may not be able to separate from this trauma vortex.

Overcoming your depression, anxiety, anger, addiction or other presenting issues means dealing with the traumatic responses that led to these issues. Somatic experiencing addresses this trauma directly by looking at how it is affecting the body. If you would like to know more about somatic experiencing, or how we can help you overcome addiction, contact Solutions Counseling Center today.

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