Embracing Wholeness: Integrating Somatic Therapy into Traditional Psychotherapy

As our understanding of human psychology advances, traditional psychotherapy, historically focused on cognitive and emotional realms, evolves to embrace a more holistic approach to healing. This transformation entails integrating somatic therapy into traditional psychotherapeutic modalities, acknowledging the intrinsic link between the mind and body in mental health.

Somatic therapy, grounded in the belief that the body embodies and reflects our emotional experiences, adds a unique dimension to the therapeutic process. Unlike conventional talk therapy, which primarily addresses thoughts and emotions, somatic therapy incorporates bodily sensations, movements, and gestures into the healing journey. By integrating somatic techniques into traditional psychotherapy, therapists access deeper layers of experience, facilitating profound transformations for clients.

At its core, somatic therapy recognizes that our bodies aren’t just vessels for our minds but integral aspects of our being. Trauma, stress, and unresolved emotions can manifest physically as tension, pain, or discomfort, while physical sensations can trigger emotional responses, often unconsciously. By tuning into these bodily sensations and exploring their meaning within the therapeutic relationship, clients gain valuable insights into their emotional landscape, unlocking paths to healing.

Somatic Experiencing (SE), developed by Dr. Peter Levine, is a primary modality within somatic therapy. SE focuses on renegotiating the body’s response to trauma by titrating and gradually discharging stored energy. Through gentle somatic interventions, clients safely process and integrate traumatic experiences.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of “The Body Keeps the Score,” has advanced our understanding of trauma’s impact on both body and mind. His research underscores somatic interventions’ crucial role in addressing trauma complexities, advocating for their integration into traditional psychotherapy. Central to his approach is acknowledging the interconnectedness between trauma, the body, and psychological well-being, emphasizing relational healing and combining top-down and bottom-up approaches for holistic treatment.

Integrating somatic therapy enhances therapy efficacy by addressing somatic components alongside psychological issues. Grounding techniques and cognitive restructuring exercises synergize to offer comprehensive treatment. Moreover, it deepens embodiment and presence within the therapeutic relationship, fostering trust and openness between client and therapist.

Integrating somatic therapy expands therapists’ toolbox and offers flexibility and customization in treatment plans. Drawing from diverse practices such as breathwork, mindfulness, and movement therapy, therapists tailor interventions to effectively meet client needs.

Despite its benefits, integrating somatic therapy demands ongoing training and self-awareness. Therapists must navigate emotional and physiological responses, engaging in continual education and self-exploration to incorporate somatic techniques effectively. The integration of somatic therapy into traditional psychotherapy marks a significant advancement in mental health care. Recognizing the mind-body connection, therapists offer holistic healing experiences. Through somatic interventions, clients deepen self-awareness, release trauma, and reclaim wholeness and vitality, reflecting the ever-expanding horizons of human resilience and growth.

Ready to Learn More?

Join us for a unique 90-minute webinar, In Conversation with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk: Navigating Trauma and Healing: LIVE WEBINAR, as we sit down with renowned psychiatrist and trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. Dr. van der Kolk will share his insights from decades of research and clinical practice in this exclusive interview. We’ll discuss the latest developments in the neurobiology of trauma, and you’ll gain a more nuanced understanding of how trauma affects both the mind and body. Dr. van der Kolk will reflect on his groundbreaking work, including his influential book, “The Body Keeps the Score,” providing participants with an opportunity to grasp the profound connections between psychological trauma and physiological responses. Participants will also have the chance to gain valuable perspectives on trauma-informed care, therapeutic relationships, and the integration of innovative approaches in trauma recovery. This interview is not just a dialogue; it’s a unique opportunity to learn from one of the foremost authorities in the field. Don’t miss this chance to deepen your understanding and refine your approach to trauma care. You won’t want to miss this enlightening discussion that may shape the way you view and address trauma in your professional practice.

Please register today and join the conversation as we delve deep into the intricate realms of trauma, neuroscience, and the pathways to healing.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will acquire a comprehensive understanding of trauma-informed care principles and be able to identify challenges and successes in implementing these principles across different sectors.
  • Participants will be able to evaluate the role of the therapeutic relationship in trauma recovery and apply strategies to establish trust and safety with individuals who have experienced severe trauma.
  • Participants will be able to describe at least one effective treatment modality for trauma-resistant PTSD or those with co-occurring disorders.
  • Participants will develop strategies for advocating and integrating trauma education into various sectors, fostering a more trauma-informed society.
  • Participants will stay updated on recent changes and developments in trauma research and treatment.
  • Participants will recognize and address the influence of cultural factors on the experience and expression of trauma, integrating cultural competence into trauma-informed practices.
  • Participants will identify key steps for improving access to trauma-informed care, particularly in communities with limited resources or mental health infrastructure.

Presented by: Bessel van der Kolk, MD & Heather Haslem, MS

Continuing Education Units: 1.5 CEUs


Levine, P. A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. North Atlantic Books.

van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Viking.

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