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I’m All Ears (And Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Too): Exploring the Mind-Body Connection Through Somatic Therapy

Brandi Ganz, Recovery Unplugged

In recent years, the spotlight on somatic therapy has intensified, propelled by a growing

recognition of its efficacy – especially when traditional talk therapy falls short. This surge

in interest has been further fueled by platforms like TikTok, which have popularized the

term and made it more recognizable to the general public. If you aren’t familiar with

Somatic Therapy, it’s an umbrella term that describes various therapeutic approaches

that all incorporate the mind-body connection into the wellness process. However,

navigating through the myriad of somatic therapies is not so straightforward that it

doesn’t bear exploring a bit more. Today, I’m going to focus on 5 prominent somatic

therapy techniques and the unique approach to healing each one offers.

Somatic Experiencing (SE)

Somatic Experiencing stands as a pioneering approach to trauma therapy, credited to

the work of Peter Levine. At its core, SE emphasizes the crucial task of releasing

trapped physical energy resultant from traumatic experiences. Clients who choose this

approach will work with a therapist as they navigate the terrain of their bodily

sensations, akin to the ebb and flow of ocean waves. Through a process known as

"pendulation" individuals pass through states of heightened arousal and peaceful

calmness, facilitating functional self-soothing and nervous system regulation. SE

sessions often incorporate an array of bodily exercises, allowing clients to reconnect

with their innermost selves, desires, and fears. Touch therapy may also be integrated,

offering a tangible avenue for exploring and processing deeply held somatic imprints.

Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

In AEDP, healing emerges through the supportive shelter of the therapeutic relationship.

AEDP therapists help to identify attachment wounds and foster a safe and sacred space

for clients to confront and process core emotions. Here, the therapeutic journey is a

collaboration, with therapists actively engaging in sessions, sharing their own

experiences, and tracking somatic cues that emerge during the session. Using this

approach, clients are invited to explore their emotions through a process that fosters

change and lasting healing.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Developed by Somatic Therapy pioneer Pat Ogden, sensorimotor psychotherapy

explores the intricacies of early attachment patterns, revealing how memories can

manifest within the body. Through a dynamic interplay of movement, posture, and

gestures, therapists guide clients towards a deeper understanding of their embodied

experiences. Central to this therapeutic methodology is the cultivation of

awareness—both of one's bodily sensations and the underlying attachment needs that shape our lived experiences. Through this process, clients learn to embody positive

beliefs, reshape their felt experiences, and forge a path toward healing and


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR emerges as a structured and regimented approach to trauma therapy. Targeting

specific traumatic memories, EMDR therapists employ bilateral stimulation—be it

through eye movements or tactile sensations—to reprocess entrenched narratives and

recalibrate their neural encoding – That is, to revisit trauma under the care of a licensed

professional with the goal of allowing our brains to reprocess the event in a healthy way.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is rooted in the depth of the present moment and encourages

individuals to embrace the full spectrum of their embodied experiences. With a focus on

loosening defensive patterns and enhancing the quality of life, Gestalt practitioners

trace bodily sensations and empower clients to further investigate their emotional

depths. Through spontaneous experiments and an emphasis on self-awareness,

Gestalt therapy can be a potent catalyst for personal growth and change, allowing

individuals to embrace authenticity and a path of self-discovery.

Choosing the Right Path:

While all somatic therapies incorporate the body into treatment, their distinct

orientations and techniques cater to different therapeutic needs. Whether one seeks to

heal from specific traumas, address attachment wounds, or explore existential

concerns, there's a somatic therapy suited to each person’s unique journey. By

understanding the nuances of these modalities, individuals can make informed

decisions and embark on paths tailored to their healing and growth.

The goal of the Spiritual Care Network (SCN) is to educate, enlighten, and empower

both faith leaders and mental health professionals to play a part in mental wellness and

addiction recovery in their communities. SCN aims to build trusted relationships with

service providers and encourages the integration of spirituality into all levels of

treatment where appropriate. We are a collaborative, inclusive community welcoming of

all belief systems, treatment modalities, and therapeutic programs that honor the basic

tenets of care: safety, respect, and compassion for our fellow man.


Accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP). Welldoing. (n.d.).

Gestalt Therapy Explained. TherapyRoute. (2024, March 20).

Ogden, P. (n.d.). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: One method for processing ... Sage Journals.

Salamon, M. (2023, July 7). What is somatic therapy?. Harvard Health.

Team, G. E. (2018, August 3). Somatic experiencing (SE). Somatic Experiencing.

Team, G. E. (n.d.). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR).


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