No words needed: Our bodies tell our story.
Have you ever noticed that warmth in your chest as you greet someone you love but haven’t seen in a while?
Or your heart beating faster when you realize you are running late for an appointment?
Or how you smile when you remember that complement your neighbor gave you.
Or the sigh you just had when you come home to a sink full of dirty dishes.
These are nervous system responses to what is going on in our environment at any given moment. They often vary significantly in response to different situations.
However, when we experience chronic childhood trauma, such as parental substance abuse; loud and frequent arguments between parents; emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; bulling; or parental neglect, our nervous system tends to develop fixed and repetitive responses to everyday life events.
According to ‘somatic psychotherapy’…
Traumatic memories may be expressed non-verbally in ways like physical pain, or with particular facial expressions, posture, and mannerisms.
A woman who was physically abused by her father in childhood hunches her shoulders and speaks softly when she is around her male boss. Day after day, she works herself into exhaustion, worried that her boss will be unhappy with her performance.
A soldier who recently returned from military combat jumps easily when hearing loud noises. Each evening, he drinks a six pack of beer to relax, so that he won’t yell at his kids.
A woman who feels chronic widespread body pain was raised in an abusive environment, where she was constantly on guard – her muscles braced. Her childhood was so overwhelming, she may not have very many memories she can talk about, but her body pain serves as a reminder as to how often she had to suppress her emotions just to survive. Nowadays, she is unable to do much of anything because of the pain.
A man who won’t make eye contact with others was frequently screamed at by his mother when he was a child. He learned early that eye contact with his mother during these times made the abuse worse. He has generalized that fear to others now, unconsciously expecting to be screamed at. He would like his wife to seek her own therapy for anger issues that often spill out onto the family, but he is afraid she will get mad if he brings this up.
Just telling your story may feel good or relieving, but it may be limiting.
Here’s what I mean….
Research shows that our life-long sense of self-esteem, ability to manage strong negative emotions, and capacity for emotional bonding to other humans are largely developed during the first few years of life.
But we can’t explicitly remember those years—let alone talk about them. It’s impossible.
And it’s not that the early memories are not still there. It’s just that they were formed before we, as infants and young children, had the ability in the brain to store them as we were able to later in life.
So, low self-esteem, poor emotional regulation, and relationship difficulties will often not be able to be worked through with traditional talk therapy and need an approach in which the language of the body is emphasized.
I help clients to heal this trauma through “natural processing.”
The theory behind this type of somatic psychotherapy is that all humans possess an inherent drive for completion, be it of a project or healing from a particular past traumatic event.
Accordingly, the mind/body will automatically move towards healing when we provide optimal circumstances for it to do so.
During the initial session with me, in addition to hearing your story, I will be noticing your body language, for this will give me additional information as to what your life may have been like.
Then, during the therapy, I will ask you to notice your postures, facial expressions, mannerisms, and sensations you experience in your body. I may even mirror them back to you by using the same postures, facial expressions, and gestures. This deepens your awareness of what your nervous system is doing and allows a more empathetic connection to develop between the two of us.
I will also ask you questions, like, “What do you notice in your body when you talk about your recent panic attack?” and “When you reflect back on your recent panic attack and feel your palms getting clammy, what emotions to you have?” or “What is the negative belief about yourself as you bring up the recent argument with your partner?” and “What do you notice in your body now?
This will enable you to become more aware of your emotions…
… and the feelings in your body, so that you can work through old trauma and develop more resilience.
Your body and mind will automatically then move towards move towards completion – thoroughly resolving the past trauma – so that you can heal.
I frequently combine this somatic approach with EMDR therapy. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a brain-based therapy.
While I am doing the above, my clients hold a small, vibrating tapper that gently alternates between each hand. This accentuates right-left brain processing and integration of difficult or traumatic past events.
It lowers the distress when a person recalls a disturbing experience. Once the distress is lowered, the brain automatically, with continued right-left vibration, begins to associate the disturbing experience in a different way.
EMDR and somatic psychotherapy are considered the trauma experts to be the fastest, most effective approaches to resolving trauma.
Just imagine what we can do together…
Together, we will tap into your story at the mind and body level and allow you to heal more fully.
Gaining self-worth and realizing you are lovable just you are…
Facing any emotion that comes up…
Having deeper relationships with people who are capable of loving you… and having the capacity to love them back…
If would like to experience this type of healing for yourself, reach out today for a free phone consultation: (562) 375-4389.