Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Traditional psychotherapy addresses the cognitive and emotional elements of trauma, but lacks techniques that work directly with the physiological elements, despite research findings that trauma profoundly affects the body and that many symptoms of traumatized individuals are somatically driven. Unassimilated somatic (bodily) responses evoked in trauma involving both arousal and defensive responses are shown to contribute to many PTSD symptoms and to be critical elements in the use of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Training presents simple body-oriented interventions for tracking, naming and safely exploring trauma-related somatic activation, creating new competencies and restoring a somatic sense of self. Clients will learn effective, accessible interventions for identifying and working with disruptive somatic patterns, disturbed cognitive and emotional processing, and the fragmented sense of self that they experienced because of their trauma. Techniques are taught within a phase-oriented treatment approach, focusing first on stabilization and symptom reduction.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy identifies two general kinds of interrelated psychological issues: developmental and traumatic. Developmental issues result from disturbed early attachment relationships that lead to limiting beliefs about oneself and the world, while post-traumatic stress disorder results from overwhelming experience that remains unintegrated. When combined with unresolved trauma, early attachment disturbances can lead to a wide variety of adult relational problems. Treatment focuses on how traumatic, attachment, and developmental issues influence one another, and how to provide effective treatment given their inevitable intertwining.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy techniques are uniquely suited for clients with complex symptoms and disorders. Complex trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder clients benefit from the emphasis on mindfulness and present day focus, while dissociative disorder clients benefit from working with the body that is a shared whole for all parts. Despite the fact that more complex clients can be body-phobic or have difficulty with movement and action, Sensorimotor techniques can be adapted to suit their special requirements. Slowing down the pace, working with ‘slivers’ of information, combining body and parts work, increasing the amount of repetition and practice all contribute to expanding the Window of Tolerance.

Before starting this therapy it is important to discuss with your therapist all the questions you have and see if this will be a good therapy for you and answer any treatment questions you may have. This is a new therapy, but there is a useful book written by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton and Clare Pane: Trauma and the Body.