Intro Section 1 - An Introduction to Somatic Therapies
Somatic Therapies PDF
Recommended Reading for the Course
Focusing by Eugene Gendlin
Walking the Tiger by Peter Levine
The Body Keeps the Score by
Bessel van der Kolk
Teach your clients to distinguish between sensations, feelings, and thoughts.
Intro Section 2 - Interoceptors, Physiological & Emotional Regulation, Mindfulness
Interoceptors allow us to feel what going on inside our bodies and organs.
Interoceptors are involved with the relationship we have with our bodies and our sense of self.
They play a role in emotional self-awareness.
Interoceptors and body awareness can help us to regulate our emotions.
Physiological regulation is emotional regulation & vice a versa.
Mindfulness practices are used in therapies such as MABT and DBT.
A Holistic Map for Health and Well-Being
A central question to ask yourself for each client is are they more responsive to body based approaches or talking therapies?
Of the Big 4 somatic therapies which methods do they respond best to? This may take several sessions to determine.
VAK - Are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic?
Different processes work on various levels and people go through phases. At times they may be very responsive to movement, other times they may respond better with sensory orientated methods.
Intro Section 3 - Principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine
Summary of Key Points in these Files
People tend to hold emotions in five key areas:
1. Head, Face, and Jaw
2. Neck & Shoulders
4. Abdomen and GI system
5. Pelvis and Hips
Shen as the Witness/Observer/ Meta-Cognition
Joy - Happiness, contentment, fullfillment
Grief - Letting go
Anger - Threats, injustice, need for change
Fear - Tells us to be careful of threats and dangers
Anxiety - Fear projected into the future
Guide people in finding the unique way they hold emotions in their own bodies
For people in severe emotional duress or trauma, one technique is to direct their attention to benign things in the environment.
1. Direct their attention to a piece of art on the wall or have them look out a window. Have them describe natural objects they can see or other things of beauty in their surroundings.
2. Have them find all the colors in the environment.
3. Ask them to locate five things they can see, four things they can feel, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste.
The above three exercises take people out of their inner focal point and psychological distress and focus their attention outward.
Much of this class will focus on directing the clients attention to their inner sensations and feelings, rather than the external senses.
Emotions and Physical Sensations
As we guide our clients into somatic therapies it is vital to assist them in finding the right words and language to describe their feelings.
Emotions often have specific sensations and feelings associated with them. While this varies between people there are some common sensations that we can experience.
Joy - Joy is often felt as a warm, light, and open sensation in the chest.
Where in your body do you feel joy?
Fear - Fear is associated with the sympathetic nervous system and the fight, flight, or freeze responses. People in fear may feel increased heart rate, muscle tension, heavy breathing, and be hyper-alert.
Anger may feel hot or as if there is pressure in the head and chest.
Sadness may occur with feelings of heaviness, low energy, depression, or with lumps in the throat.
Worry and anxiety are often felt as jitteriness, tension, and may occur with stomach butterflies.
Intro Section 4 - Key Communication Skills, Tips and Insights from a Counselor
Interview with a psychotherapist, Romi Grossberg.
Honor and recognize your clients unique reactions to the therapeutic process.
Respect and recognize boundaries in the client and yourself
Understand your skills and limitations.
Know the difference between an opening and a release.
Slow things down and take time.
Teach clients to listen to their own inner voice(s), intuition, and practice self-inquiry.
What emotions are underneath their inner voices, sub-personalities, and character structures?
Encourage clients to do writing therapy.
Section 2 - A Foundational Process with Sensory Related Methods and Questions
Watch this video before listening to audio files.
Audio Sections 5 - 8
Bring the Practice Home to Yourself
What resource points do you have when working through intense emotions?
Are your current resource points positive and productive?
Are any of your current resource points maladaptive at this stage in your life?
For the next week, practice feeling into and underneath your own common emotions.
Locate them in your body
Sit with them and feel into the subtle sensations
Use the breath as an anchor to feel into the feelings
Notice what arises
A Vital Practice and Question for Getting Underneath the Everyday Sensations
When feeling into the sensations it is crucial to get past the common everyday feelings, sensations, and inner dialogue. When bringing their attention to the sensations and feelings in their body, ask them to feel into the origin or beginning point of where the sensations emerge from. Using the words 'origin' or 'beginning point' of the sensation tends to take them to a deeper level.
Guided Meditation Audio
Additional Details and Tips for the Processes
Step 1 Orientating a Client and Using Resource Points
It may or may not be necessary to establish resource points before going into deeper processes. For people under severe duress or emotional trauma it is often necessary to identify and discuss these in the early stages, and as a way to provide an anchor for them to feel safe and secure. Many people already have their own resource points that they may be conscious or unconscious of. See if you can identify their resource points without explicitly discussing the topic.
For mild to moderate cases it is often not necessary to discuss the topic before going into the Felt Sense and related processes. However, it is a good practice to teach to all clients suffering from psychological and emotional conditions, as resource points can help people to regulate their emotions. Emotional regulation is an important skill that is widely used and taught in psychology and DBT. In that regard, the exercises below can all serve as resource points for emotional regulation.
Several methods are used for grounding the client and getting them orientated in the present moment. This also helps to establish a deepening of presence between the client and therapist. The key to this is establishing a point of reference where they feel safe and secure.
1. Finding a safe resource point - You can ask them where in their body they feel safe. Ask them what makes them feel safe. This might be a memory, an image, an affirmation, an image of a loved one, feelings evoked by a caring person, or their own inner fortitude.
2. Ask, "Is there a place in your body where you feel safe?" Alternately, tell them "I want you to bring attention to a place in your body where you feel comfortable and safe." Notice how people respond to this, some will not be able to find a safe place and others will get triggered by this. How else can you establish a sense of safety for those that get triggered?
3. Head rotations (looking right and left) and releasing tension in the jaw help create a sense of safe orientation before beginning processes.
4. Breathing - Slow deep breaths to the abdomen or heart are great for grounding and can serve as a resource point. Make the exhalation twice as long as the inhalation to active a parasympathetic response.
5. The Inner Witness / Observer / Meta-cognition can serve as a resource point.
6. Touch - a.) Touching the Client - foot holds, holding the pulse or key points like PC 6, SP 6 b.) Have them do self-touch - hand over their chest and/or abdomen. c.) rubbing the thumb and index finger together when combined with affirmations or positive intentions.
7. Use the inner smile meditation or a self-hug to develop a warm inner feeling. I like to use this after the process is over and as a way to shift into positive feelings.
Anchor and resource
points are valuable tools that can be used for years.
People also develop resource points to things like over-eating and various other addictions.
Resource points can be used as a source of inner strength and empowerment
Interview with Daisy Kaye, Presence and the Felt Sense
Orientation - Using head and jaw movements to bring clients into Presence. Daisy may also use shaking to orientate people and get them in the body.
What's the message under the sensations and held emotions?
Voice Dialogue is a separate process that can be combined with Felt Sense and somatic therapies.
If this part of your body could speak what would it say?
Additional Tips for Locating Emotions and Asking Qualitative Sensory Questions.
Locating where emotions are held in the body is a primary method for somatic therapy.
1. Have the Client Locate the Emotion. Ask, "Where do you feel this emotion in your body?"
Tell them to notice any subtle vibrations or sensations that are present in that location. Ask them to feel into the origin or beginning point of where those sensations originate from.
2. Once they have done this, allow them time and space to feel into the sensations and feelings.
3. Ask Sensory-Related Qualitative Questions. Such as:
a.) What does this emotion feel like in your chest, abdomen, shoulders, etc?
b.) You may need to initiate the process by asking questions like: Does it feel light, heavy, large, small, tight, open? Let them find their own descriptive language and encourage them to describe it more fully. You can do this by asking additional questions such as below.
c.) Are there any other sensations underneath the tightness in your chest?
d.) Does the feeling have a color, shape, or texture?
e.) As they answer give time and space for silence before speaking or asking more questions. (They should also be entering into a meditative / hypnotic / altered state as your progress through these questions. Giving time and space for silence helps to facilitate this.)
f.) Use reflective listening and mirroring to repeat back what qualities they describe. This can help keep them in the moment and go deeper into the process. Phrase this as a question such as, "How would you describe this tightness in your chest?" or "Does the tightness in your abdomen have a color associated with it?"
g.) Does the feeling have any sounds or smells associated with it?
h.) Repeat steps e - f as need for each answer or until a shift, release, catharsis occurs.
i.) A final question to ask is, "Are there any images or memories associated with it?"
This question can be very powerful. I typically ask it only after going through the other sensory related questions first. This question can bring people out of the hypnotic state and back into speaking about it. It can also re-trigger people, especially if they witnessed something very disturbing, were abused, or have a condition like PTSD.
The process described here should take at least 10 - 20 minutes.
The key to this exercise is getting them to locate and describe the emotional sensations in their bodies in terms of sensory experiences. This bridges the body mind connections.
Different sensory - related questions activate different part of the brain.
Encourage them to meet whatever arises with openness, curiosity, compassion, and loving-kindness.
Full explore body sensations and feelings before moving on to asking about memories and images.
The above process helps people to open up and experience their emotions in new ways and with greater body awareness and mindfulness. This process aims to transition people from thinking and speaking about their condition - to feeling body sensations - to embodiment.
When done with proficiency the process will lead to shifts, openings, insights, releases, or catharsis. After any of these happen, give the client time to digest what just happened, and then begin to transition to finishing, integrating, and discussing what occurred.
Tips on Coming Out of the Process and Entering into Dialogue
Asking about the quality of sensations is a feeling-based exercise that helps to promote body awareness and helps the client to understand how their emotions are held in the body. The types of questions in the above process may not open up verbal dialogue but will cultivate greater awareness. Clients often go quiet during these styles of questions. Part of the process is keeping them within the feelings without engaging in too much talk or mental activity. Altered States
These processes liberate emotional energy and tap into the body’s wisdom to help provide insights, wisdom, and solutions to their problems.
When we shift to questions like “if this part of your body could speak, what would it say?” or “What does this part of you need for healing?” We are shifting the process from feeling the sensations and qualities of the emotions to consciously speaking from those parts. This represents a transitional phase moving from sensory orientated questioning to dialogue and speaking.
Questions for Shifting the Process from Felt Sense to Dialogue
If this part of you could speak what would it say?
Can you express the emotion from the place where you feel it in your body?
What does this part of you most need for healing?
What’s here for you now?
Finish on a Positive Note - Two Exercises
Before finishing the session and before they start to return to their everyday state of awareness, or engage in too much dialogue about their experience, have them do one of the following exercises.
1. Have the client place one of their hands on their abdomen and another on their heart. This is a simple but profound way to connect them to their body, heart, and emotions through touch. When they are doing this slowly guide them in one of a few possible ways.
a. Have them rest in the sensations and feelings of this self-touch exercise while doing slow deep breathing. Bring their attention to the sensation of touch and where their hands meet their body's.
b. Tell them to acknowledge themselves for the work they just did and feel into the feeling of self-love, self-respect, self-compassion, or some other appropriate feeling or emotion.
c. Affirmations can also be used at this time such as something like:
"I honor and recognize all parts of my self."
"I am worthy of....."
" I will cultivate self-love and compassion."
"I commit to being kinder to myself or others."
" I will respect my personal boundaries..."
The affirmation in the above step should be personally tailored according to their experience and needs.
2. The Inner Smile Meditation - This is derived from Mantak Chia's inner smile meditations.
a. Return their attention to the area where they located the held emotions.
b. Have them smile inwardly to this region and as if they are directing self-love and care to the area of their body-emotion-mind.
c. If negative emotion or uncomfortable feelings remain there, have them direct the inner smile to that part of themself with a sense of total acceptance, gratitude, and loving-kindness.
Interview with Daisy Kaye, Presence and the Felt Sense
In this video we discuss how to start a treatment using simple movements of the head to create orientation.
Daisy also discusses the 3 locks of the occiput, hips and knees, and how people will often become rigid in these locations. For people who are very rigid and have a lot of 'body armoring' she will often start a session with shaking.
Also discussed is movement, and why it is important to move people out of their typical patterns of movement.
Movement in Somatic Therapy
This video reviews the orientation technique of moving the head and jaw, and gives more detail about different ways to remove tension from these areas. These methods may be returned to during a treatment session and when people get triggered. Simple movements like this can serve as ways to anchor people in their body's.
When releasing tension from the jaw through movement, it is also good to combine it with sighing or yawning. Non-verbal vocal expressions can be a supplemental and powerful way to help release tension, stress, and anxiety. The video also introduces how to use movement with visualization.
In this video we talk about the role of curiosity and playfulness in therapy, and how to integrate different methods.
Combining movement and breath is an important exercise. In this video we talk about deep breathing, and how to introduce this slowly and with body awareness exercises. When doing breathing exercises it is important to check in with your body to see how things change or move. Breath work can cause emotions to move in the body.
It is also recommended to change a clients typical breathing patterns by prescribing an opposite form of breathing.