What is Somatic Psychotherapy?

Soma’ means body (in Greek). ‘Psychotherapy’ means a therapy that aims to help with issues of the psyche. Together, they form a type of therapy that uses the body to help with issues of the mind. Why aren’t we making it simple then, and just call it ‘body psychotherapy’? Well, in the realm of somatic psychology, ‘soma’ means something slightly different than ‘body’.

If a medical doctor, for example, is making a physical examination on us, he would probably look for objective measures to figure out what’s going on with us. In this sense, he deals with the objective body, as seen from a third-person experience. Somatic view, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the subjective experience of the patient, therefore prioritizing the first-person experience.

This definition was offered by Thomas Hanna, and in our opinion it helps to create clarity in the subject. In Hanna’s words, “Somas were seen to be self–sensing, self–moving, and in possession of conscious volition — the latter being acquired through the process of somatic learning which focuses awareness upon what is unconscious in order to make it conscious.”

Another interpretation, as described by USABP (United States Association of Body Psychotherapy), claims that ‘somatic psychotherapy’ is just the American equivalent to the term ‘body psychotherapy’ in Europe. In any case, this field is broad and has many approaches and schools, essentially like any other form of psychotherapy nowadays. Actually, some claim that there are at least 500 (!) different types of psychotherapy of all kinds, fortunately only some of them are somatic…But we still have a lot to cover!

In the following articles we’ll try to cover at least some of them, and explore the issues which they can be helpful to. A special emphasis will be put on our current favorite approach - Bodynamic Analysis System for Somatic Developmental Psychology. We also aim to provide book recommendations and reviews, both for professionals and the general population, and we are open and happy for feedback and discussion.

Posted in: March 11, 2024