Unresolved trauma can be present for years and cause all types of symptoms and discomfort without a person even knowing it’s there. These deeply rooted, unresolved traumas can spontaneously burst out like a sudden eruption of anxiety and stress when triggered by memories or reminders of an event and can cause the individual to have physical manifestations of this stress. To address this dilemma, Trauma and Beyond Center ® offers Sensorimotor Psychotherapy treatment to our clients as part of our holistic approach to healing and recovery.
A Brief History
In the 1970s, Dr. Pat Ogden took notice of the correlation between her client’s disassociation with their bodies and their psychological issues. Even before the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), she had already begun paying attention to the link between the body and the psychological concerns, seeing that sometimes, traditional “talk” therapy only seemed to trigger the client rather than bring healing. She began to lay the foundations of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy by combining psychotherapy and somatic therapy to create a comprehensive approach to healing the disconnection between the mind and the body.
What is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?
According to the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is a complete treatment modality to heal trauma and attachment issues. SP utilizes the body as an integral source of information for processing past experiences relating to upsetting or traumatic events and developmental wounds. SP incorporates the physical and sensory experience, as well as thoughts and emotions, as part of the person’s complete experience of both the trauma itself and the process of healing. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy seeks to restore a person’s ability to process information without being triggered by past experience.
How to Know if Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is Right for You
Sometimes, traditional “talk” therapy just isn’t enough to help a person heal from their trauma. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy could be the perfect addition to help you address and
resolve the trauma and finally have a more meaningful breakthrough to true healing. This treatment is helpful for individuals with:
- Having difficulty concentrating due to fear, upsetting thoughts, or unwelcomed physical (body) sensations
- Intense and disturbing emotional reactions that seem out of place with the present situation
- Post-traumatic stress: abuse, attack, accidents, flashbacks, nightmares. Feeling frozen or stuck in familiar circumstances without understanding why
- Difficulty enjoying life, feeling hopeful, and experiencing pleasure
- Relationship related wounds: neglect, harsh parenting during childhood, divorce, child-parent separations
- Persistent and regular negative thoughts about one’s ability to achieve, be successful and deserving
- Difficulty maintaining a job, a family, friendships and other relationships
- Feeling detached from one’s self and the world
What Happens in a Typical Therapy Session?
Each session can vary widely depending on the needs of the client and their capacity to process trauma as well as the therapist’s skill and level of training. According to GoodTherapy, there are three major steps:
The most important one is to establish a place of safety. This lets the affected individual become better able to focus on their movements, impulses, and physical sensations in a space that they feel is safe and protected. Being mindful of body positions, gestures, and even breathing patterns gives the client and therapist useful information. This environment highlights the body’s response to specific memories, thoughts, and emotions.
If the individual is prepared to talk about the traumatic event, they may be asked to recall the moments leading up to the incident. They try to focus on any emotional changes and bodily responses they experience while remembering the event. For example, if the individual feels anger, they may be asked to identify which part of the body the anger is coming from. “Is it felt in the chest? Between the eyes? In the throat? Has your blood pressure risen?” As the individual begins to understand their body’s language, putting sensations and emotions together assists in the process of reintegrating these sensations so that the traumatic event can be processed.
The therapist will help the individual complete any desired movement or action that may have been truncated in the past. An example of this would be for a victim of domestic violence to raise their arm in defense. For a victim of child abuse to finally be able to say the word “NO.” These exercises can help the individual get a sense of success and triumph as they become more able to move past the traumatic memories and set aside fears. Hopefully, this will lead to the experience of calmness and lightness that can come after overcoming trauma.
Getting over a traumatic experience takes time, care, a willingness to be vulnerable. The proper treatment program that will gently guide you into the other side of the darkness. Trauma and Beyond Center ® offers not just Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to our clients but a myriad of other treatment options in order to tailor treatment specifically for you.
If you feel that you need help managing your anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Call us and we will be happy to speak to you about our Sensorimotor Psychotherapy program and all of our treatment programs for anxiety, trauma, and other mental health issues. Call us at 818-651-0725.