Healing from Trauma: Can Somatic Therapy Really Work?

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Published Date|
June 12, 2024

Healing from Trauma: Can Somatic Therapy Really Work?

Trauma can feel like a storm that never ends, leaving you drenched, cold, and scared of when thunder might strike next. It can sneak into your thoughts, disrupt your sleep, and make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the effects of trauma can cause an onslaught of mental, physical, and emotional symptoms that will continue to affect your body until that trauma is addressed. You might experience things like depression, anxiety, or even insomnia. But what of the biggest symptoms of trauma is called PTSD

At KMA Therapy, we understand the heavy toll trauma and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) can take on your life. We’re here to tell you about a gentle yet powerful way to find peace: somatic therapy. Let’s dive into how this approach can help you heal, one step at a time.

Understanding PTSD and Its Impact

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. PTSD affects not just the mind but the body as well, often leading to chronic pain, tension, and other physical symptoms.

People with PTSD often feel like they are constantly on edge, and their bodies are in a state of heightened alert. This can make daily activities incredibly challenging and exhausting. The connection between mind and body in PTSD is why somatic therapy can be particularly effective.

What is Somatic Therapy Anyway?

Somatic therapy might sound like one of those fancy, complicated terms, but it's actually pretty straightforward. "Somatic" comes from the Greek word "soma," which means body. So, somatic therapy is all about using the body to help heal the mind. It’s like yoga but with more talking and less stretching.

Imagine carrying around a backpack filled with heavy rocks. Each rock represents a traumatic experience or painful memory. Over time, this backpack gets heavier, slowing you down and making it harder to move forward. Somatic therapy helps you take those rocks out of the backpack, one by one, so you can start to feel lighter and more free.

How Does Somatic Therapy Work?

In somatic therapy, we focus on the connection between your mind and body. Trauma, including PTSD, isn’t just something that lives in your head; it affects your entire body. Think about how your body reacts when you’re stressed: your muscles tense up, your heart races, and your breathing gets shallow. These physical responses are your body’s way of holding onto trauma.

A somatic therapist helps you become aware of these physical sensations and guides you through gentle exercises to release them. It’s a bit like when you get a massage and feel those knots in your muscles start to melt away, except it’s your emotional knots we’re working on.

One of the key aspects of somatic therapy is mindfulness. This isn’t about sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop, chanting “Om.” Mindfulness in somatic therapy means paying attention to what’s happening in your body right now, without judgment.

For example, let’s say you’re talking about a difficult memory and you notice your shoulders are creeping up towards your ears. A somatic therapist might guide you to take a few deep breaths and gently lower your shoulders. This simple act can help you feel more grounded and in control.

Tangible Steps to Healing

Here are some practical steps we use in somatic therapy to help you on your healing journey:

1. Body Scanning 👤

Think of this as playing detective with your own body. You sit quietly and do a slow, head-to-toe check-up, kind of like when you’re making sure you didn’t forget your keys or phone before leaving the house. As you scan, you might notice tight spots or areas that feel off. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, there’s some stress here!” This little self-investigation helps you tune into how your body’s holding onto stress and trauma.

2. Grounding Exercises 🧘

These techniques help you feel more connected to the present moment and your surroundings. Imagine you’re a tree with roots growing deep into the ground, feeling the solid earth beneath you. Whether it’s feeling the floor under your feet, holding onto something sturdy like a chair or a railing, or simply focusing on your breath, these exercises help you stay grounded and present.

3. Movement 🏃🏽

Gentle movements can make a big difference in releasing built-up tension. Picture yourself as a stiff board that needs a good stretch. Simple actions like rolling your shoulders, stretching your arms, or shaking out your limbs can help. Even clenching and unclenching your fists can work wonders. It’s all about getting the tension out and bringing some lightness back into your body.

4. Breathwork 🫁

Learning to control your breathing can do wonders for calming your nervous system. Think of it as a reset button for your stress levels. Deep, slow breaths send a signal to your body that it’s safe to relax. Imagine blowing up a balloon, nice and slow – that’s the kind of breathing we’re aiming for. It helps you find your calm amidst the chaos.

5. Visualization 👀

This involves imagining a safe place or a comforting scenario. It’s like giving your mind a mini-vacation from stress and anxiety. Picture yourself on a beach, the sound of the waves gently crashing, or in a cozy cabin in the woods. Visualization can transport you to a place where you feel safe and relaxed, helping to soothe your mind and body.

Benefits of Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy offers a wide range of benefits, especially for those who have experienced trauma and are dealing with PTSD. By focusing on the connection between mind and body, this therapeutic approach can provide deep and lasting healing. Here’s how:

  • Releases Stored Trauma: Trauma often gets trapped in the body, manifesting as chronic pain, tension, or other physical symptoms. Somatic therapy helps release this stored trauma through mindful awareness and gentle physical exercises. Imagine your body as a sponge that has absorbed stress and pain over the years. Somatic therapy helps to gently squeeze out these negative experiences, allowing you to feel lighter and more at ease.
  • Enhances Emotional Regulation: One of the hallmarks of trauma is difficulty regulating emotions. You might feel overwhelmed by anxiety, sadness, or anger. Somatic therapy teaches you techniques to calm your nervous system, helping you manage your emotions more effectively. Think of it as learning to ride the waves of your emotions rather than being tossed around by them.
  • Improves Physical Health: By reducing tension and promoting relaxation, somatic therapy can lead to improvements in physical health. Conditions like chronic pain, headaches, and digestive issues can often be alleviated through this therapy. For instance, if you’ve ever noticed your stomach tightening up when you’re stressed, somatic therapy can help reduce these physical reactions, improving your overall well-being.
  • Builds Mind-Body Awareness: Somatic therapy helps you become more in tune with your body, fostering a greater awareness of how emotions affect your physical state. This increased body awareness can lead to earlier recognition of stress and better self-care. It’s like having a built-in alarm system that alerts you when you need to slow down and take care of yourself.
  • Strengthens Resilience: Through somatic therapy, you develop tools to cope with stress and trauma more effectively. These tools help build resilience, allowing you to bounce back more quickly from life’s challenges. Picture yourself as a tree in a storm; with strong roots and flexible branches, you can withstand even the fiercest winds.
  • Promotes a Sense of Safety: Many trauma survivors struggle with feeling safe in their own bodies. Somatic therapy creates a safe space where you can explore and release traumatic memories without feeling overwhelmed. This sense of safety is crucial for healing, allowing you to face difficult emotions and memories with confidence and support.

How does Somatic Therapy Influence Trauma and Mental Health?

Somatic therapy focuses on the deep connection between the mind and body, making it highly effective for those dealing with trauma and PTSD. Trauma isn't just a mental experience; it manifests physically as well. Through gentle physical exercises and mindful awareness, somatic therapy helps release trauma stored in the body. This release can lead to significant improvements in both emotional regulation and physical health, such as reduced chronic pain and tension.

By fostering greater body awareness, somatic therapy helps individuals recognize and manage their stress responses more effectively. This increased awareness allows for earlier recognition of stress signals and better self-care. Additionally, somatic therapy equips individuals with tools to build resilience, enabling them to cope with and recover from trauma more quickly. At KMA Therapy, our integrative approach ensures that clients receive comprehensive support to heal deeply and sustainably.

Why Believe in Somatic Therapy?

We at KMA Therapy believe that somatic therapy is a game-changer for trauma and PTSD healing. Traditional talk therapy is incredibly valuable, but sometimes it’s not enough on its own. By incorporating the body into the healing process, we address trauma on a deeper level. It’s like having a multi-tool for your emotional well-being.

Somatic therapy stands out because it recognizes that trauma impacts both the mind and body. This holistic approach ensures that healing isn't limited to cognitive processes alone. By integrating body-focused techniques such as breathwork, grounding exercises, and mindful movement, somatic therapy helps clients release stored tension and trauma from their physical being.

This integration leads to a more profound and lasting healing experience, providing clients with the tools to manage stress, improve emotional regulation, and foster a stronger connection between their mind and body. At KMA Therapy, we see the transformative impact of somatic therapy firsthand and are committed to offering this powerful approach to support our clients' journeys toward peace and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is somatic therapy right for everyone? 

Somatic therapy can be beneficial for most people, especially those who have experienced trauma or are dealing with PTSD. However, it’s always best to discuss with a therapist to determine the right approach for you. Each person's experience with trauma is unique, and a professional can help tailor the therapy to fit your specific needs. It’s important to find a therapist you feel comfortable with to maximize the benefits of the treatment.

Do I need to be physically fit to try somatic therapy?

Not at all! Somatic therapy involves gentle movements and mindfulness practices that can be adapted to any fitness level. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or someone with limited mobility, somatic therapy can be tailored to suit your capabilities. The focus is on connecting mind and body in a way that feels safe and comfortable for you.

How long does it take to see results?

The timeline varies for everyone. Some people start to feel better after a few sessions, while others may need more time. It’s important to be patient and give yourself grace during the healing process. Remember, healing is not a race, and taking the time you need is crucial for lasting progress. Regular sessions and consistent practice can enhance the effectiveness of the therapy.

Can I do somatic therapy on my own?

While there are some exercises you can try on your own, working with a trained somatic therapist can provide guidance and support that’s crucial for deep healing. A therapist can help you navigate difficult emotions and ensure you're practicing techniques safely. They can also offer personalized feedback and adjustments to improve your experience.

Is somatic therapy covered by insurance?

Coverage varies depending on your insurance plan and provider. It’s best to check with your insurance company to understand your benefits. Some providers may cover it under mental health services, while others might not. At KMA Therapy, we recommend asking your therapist for assistance in understanding your coverage options. They can help you navigate the process and determine what’s covered under your plan.


Healing from trauma and PTSD is a journey, and somatic therapy can be a gentle and effective way to find peace along the way. By paying attention to your body and learning how to release tension, you can start to feel more grounded and in control. We at KMA Therapy are here to support you every step of the way.

Ready to take the first step towards healing? Register online today and take our Therapy 101 quiz to find out more about how we can help you on your journey to peace and well-being. Let’s navigate these waters together and find the calm after the storm.

Author |
Haseena Baig
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