“Somatic means ‘mind-body.' Many forms of psychotherapy primarily use the higher cognitive functions of the brain including talking and meaning making. While this is useful, the parts of the brain most active during and after trauma, and for our survival, are not the neo-cortex and speech centers--these parts of the brain often show little neuronal activity during trauma. Somatics integrates the body, emotions, thinking and meaning making into the healing process. Through the body we can directly access the parts of the brain most involved in trauma (reptilian brain, stress centers and limbic brain) and the corresponding chemical and muscular responses in the rest of the body.
After trauma many people can ‘intellectually understand’ or make sense of what happened to them, while their reactions, behaviors and emotional experiences continue to be similar to those fueled by trauma. People come to a clear understanding of what happened to them, but without shifting how the trauma manifests itself in their bodies, people have a hard time reacting differently, or truly healing from their abuse.”
The mind/body approach to healing gives recognition and expression to the heart and soul of our existence. All too often, we only look to the mental body for assistance with everyday needs. Meanwhile, other aspects of ourselves begin to atrophy, causing discord, discontent, and disease of the body and the mind. As a result, we begin to search for connection, comfort, health, happiness, peace, and love in other places, and sometimes in unhealthy places.
The mind/body approach to healing is all about the connection between the mind and the body. It is similar to the idea that we can achieve whatever it is that we believe. As the Gurnick Academy of the Medical Arts states, “A patient who does not want to get better will take a long time to recover from a fairly minor surgery. A patient who believes in their speedy recovery will heal much faster. We can clearly see how a person’s physical well being depends on their spiritual, emotional, and mental state, as well. It is known for a fact that a person’s deep beliefs transfer information into their subconscious, which has a very strong power over the physical body.”
Healing victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
The connection between the mind and body is incredibly evident in those who suffer from various forms of abuse. The link between the two provides an opportunity to heal emotional scars through the use of mind/body practices. Some practices include Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, and Qigong.
Abuse victims will inevitably experience difficulty with the discussion of their horrific ordeal. With that in mind, the mind/body approach to healing allows for a therapeutic process to occur - a process that takes place within the body and does not require words. “Learning how to use the body to speak to the mind circumvents the prohibition against talking and can be more effective than relying solely on verbal, cognitive or intellectual approaches.”
Why a mind/body or holistic approach to healing from trauma?