It has long been thought that people who have experienced trauma store a memory of the experience in both their brains and bodies. The memory is often experienced in both in thoughts, feelings and but also body sensations. Somatic or body therapies focus on the effects of traumatic experiences on the body. Sometimes asking a client to slow down and breathe is a useful request. Many of us want to rush through our experiences and stopping to breathe and listen to what the body has to say can yield some surprising and useful cues.
Somatic therapy is holistic in that the goal is to integrate the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of self. We achieve this by becoming aware of our bodies and sensations we experience. In our Wellness classes, we will at times, ask students to focus on a particular body part and give the part a ‘voice’. For example, “if your sore neck could talk, what would it say”. This may sound strange, but it can be a useful tool particularly in helping someone overcome effects of trauma. You can try this technique on yourself. Taking the time to check in with yourself is an important task for any counsellor. As we learn how to heal and listen to our own inner voice, we can help our clients to the same.