Somatic comes from the Greek word “soma” which means “body” and describes coaching or other modalities that focus on the human being as an intelligent whole and not purely the mind.
Much of popular modern psychology and coaching focuses on the power of the mind and the way we access it and use it to change our experience. The truth of our human experience and existence is very different from being an isolated brain that exists in an otherwise functionless body. The truth is we are a complicated system that encompasses our entire body and data is collected, integrated, acted on and held by all parts of our being.
When we work somatically, we are accessing the data in ALL parts of our human system and also able to elicit change via ALL parts of our system.
At this point, it seems relevant to dive into my own experience to add some context. I had a number of personal blocks that seemed to keep me in prison of my own existence – low confidence, low self-esteem/ worth, huge fears of being seen, trouble speaking, depression, anxiety, uncontrollable negative thoughts, social anxiety, trouble concentrating, paranoia, never feeling present…not to mention an auto-immune disease (that I assumed was separate). I believed that I was a broken individual and that I experienced these things due to “bad luck” and I spent a lifetime trying to sweep them under the carpet in the fear that the world would find out the truth of my extreme uselessness as an individual.
I used everything I had to ignore these parts of me and carry on in a with a veneer of fake confidence…but rather than eliminating the problems (in a fake it til you make it way), they simply got deeper.
Once I started to work on myself, I discovered the teachings around trauma and my entire understanding of mental health and behaviour shifted. What we’ve learnt through Polyvagal Theory (a scientific theory developed by Stephen Porges in 1994) is that our whole way of being (thinking, feeling, beliefs, behaviour, physical health, immunity), is controlled by the Autonomic Nervous System, a complex system of neuro-circuitry that connects to the heart, brain, gut…in fact all organs, muscles and systems, major and minor. From imposter syndrome, to IBS, to anger and many, multiple other symptoms or experiences, they are all influenced by our nervous system state and the health of our nervous system.
It was now clear to me why I had no success in trying to “think” my way out of my problems. My thoughts, emotions, beliefs and behaviour were being influenced at an automatic level and beyond the reach of my conscious mind.
Information is held in our system at a micro level and is influenced by the stress we might be under now, but also that of the past and the way it might have affected our beliefs or capacity to hold stress.
As someone who wants to elicit deep and powerful personal change in the individuals I work with, including somatic methodology in my approach is a non-negotiable. We need to get to what lies beneath and support the individual at the very source of what might be presenting.
You may be interested in a little more information on my journey. The symptoms that I was experiencing, of course, were not down to “bad luck” or being “broken” – they were in fact varying aspects of being in Sympathetic Activation (fight or flight) and Dorsal Vagal (freeze/ shutdown). I had spent much of my life sitting in one or the other or even flicking between the two. I was experiencing this as a result of complex trauma…complex being that it was an accumulation of situations experienced in life, most from childhood and also genetically inherited.
Once we understand our system, we know what we need to work with to support our change.
Of course it’s not just about trauma, as stress, beliefs (patterns) and emotions are all held at a bodily level. The majority of individuals that I meet want to change in one or more of these areas. Once again, it’s somatic data and working directly with our somatic resources that allows us to shift from where we are to where we want to be. Not only that, but it supports the individual in developing increased compassion for the parts of themselves that they otherwise find difficult to accept.
Finally, it might be clear from what’s come before, but Somatic Coaching provides a deeply safe space where the client can explore whatever they need to, and in a way that sees and understands all parts of them and is trauma-informed.
It might also be important to state that although I work with the wisdom of the body, it does not necessarily involve any bodily contact (unless otherwise stated at the time of contracting). In fact my work is mostly remote. I use methods of enquiry that bring the body into the conversation, I access bodily wisdom and I may ask you to work in a way that has you moving your body in some way, but this is not a touch-therapy.
Whilst I do not purely Somatic Coach, (I’m an integrated practitioner who works with multiple modalities to support the client to get to wherever they need to go), it’s at the heart of my work and my work always has a whole-human approach.
As you might have guessed, this work is endlessly fascinating to me – so if you have questions or curiosities about, drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you!
If you’d like to deepen your knowledge around trauma or polyvagal theory, I’ve also listed some great reading resources below.
If you’d like to hear more about the way I work, head to my coaching packages here.
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If hearing about my work has ignited something in you and you’d like to get together human to human to find out more, or if you are ready to book and start your journey, then I’d love to share some real time with you. Book a free informal chat here.
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