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Embracing Somatic Therapy: A Solution for Australia's Stressed Professionals

Updated: Apr 20

In the face of increasing mental and physical health challenges, somatic therapy is becoming more popular as Australia's professionals are increasingly turning towards alternative therapies for relief. This is because the mental health care system is overwhelmed, and treatment many people are receiving, isn’t working the way they want. According to a study reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the data is as follows: 

  • Approximately 1.7 million individuals, representing 8.4% of the population, experienced both a mental disorder and a physical condition within a span of 12 months.*

  • Around 2.6 million people, or 13.1% of the population, were affected by a mental disorder exclusively, without any accompanying physical condition, over the same timeframe.*

  • Nearly 5.8 million individuals, which accounts for 29.5% of the population, had only a physical condition, with no mental disorder, within the past year.*

Somatic therapy, a holistic approach focusing on the body's role in mental health, physical health and overall well-being, offers  promising alternative solutions to these issues. By harnessing the body's potential to reflect and influence our emotional well-being, somatic therapy provides a path to healing and wellness that diverges from traditional mental health treatments. This approach is particularly appealing in a country like Australia, where there's a noticeable shift away from conventional methods due to their limitations and a growing interest in holistic, evidence-supported alternatives. Somatic therapy's emphasis on mind-body integration not only addresses a wide array of ailments — from anxiety and PTSD to chronic physical conditions, leadership, self-confidence, relationships, stress and personal growth — but also aligns with the preferences of Australians seeking sustainable, drug-free interventions. As such, it represents a vital tool for stressed-out professionals and leaders searching for effective, lasting relief and a healthier, more balanced life. Of course, somatics and somatic therapies are not meant to treat or diagnose physical or mental health issues directly.

Somatic Therapy Australia

[Somatic Therapy Definition]

Somatic therapy or coaching is a type of body based coaching that emphasizes the connection between the mind and body in the healing and personal growth process. It is grounded in the understanding that stress, and emotional experiences are manifested physically within the body. A somatic therapist or coach helps you work with your body at a deeper level to create more meaningful change in your life. 

Understanding Somatic Therapy: The Mind-Body Connection

Somatic therapy operates on a fundamental belief that our bodies, as a whole, hold the key to overcoming mental and physical challenges. It suggests that the issues we face are deeply intertwined with our bodily sensations and that by becoming more attuned to these sensations, we can gain significant control over our well-being. This therapeutic approach views life as an "inside out" journey, where our experiences are a composite of physical sensations, emotions, visual images, thoughts, and actions. Through a variety of mind-body exercises—ranging from mindfulness, movement, breathing techniques and yoga to name a few — somatic therapy encourages individuals to delve into their bodily sensations.  This introspection enables people to identify and transform behavior patterns at their core, fostering profound and lasting change. By focusing on the body's signals, somatic therapy offers a powerful pathway to healing, allowing for a greater sense of control and autonomy over one's life. This is why I've found it so invaluable in my coaching practice; when space is created in the body for real change, then we can move forward with greater ease, joy and comfort. We don’t have to spend time on the past, we just need to get the present moment right. 

The Versatility of Somatic Therapy: Treating Mental and Physical Ailments

Somatic therapy is distinguished by its wide applicability across a spectrum of mental and physical health issues, offering hope and healing to those grappling with diverse challenges. It has proven effective for individuals experiencing trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress, anxiety, depression, and grief, addressing these issues through the lens of body awareness and mind-body integration. It works best, when paired with traditional therapies which diagnose and treat mental health issues directly. Beyond its mental health benefits, somatic therapy extends its therapeutic reach to physical conditions such as chronic pain, digestive disorders, sexual dysfunction, and other persistent physical ailments. Furthermore, its holistic approach not only aids in alleviating symptoms but also in enhancing overall well-being. By employing somatic techniques, individuals have seen improvements in confidence, life satisfaction, workplace performance, and interpersonal relationships. The therapy's ability to reduce symptoms of ADHD and help change bad habits underscores its role as a comprehensive tool for personal transformation. Somatic therapy's broad applicability makes it a valuable resource for those seeking to address complex health issues through an alternative, holistic approach. In addition, it has wonderful benefits for increasing the quality of learning for students, the capacity for emotionally intelligent leaders and happiness in general.

The Scientific Backing of Somatic Therapy: Emerging Evidence

Somatic coaching and somatic therapy are growing fields. They are both considered alternative approaches and although the research is new, it’s very promising. From my own practice using these methodologies with my clients and in groups I’ve witnessed profound shifts in people’s overall well-being and quality of life. For example, we know from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies that childhood trauma (which is in the body) has a profound impact on adult mental and physical well-being, habit patterns, thoughts and beliefs. These findings offer a strong foundation for somatic therapy's principles, suggesting that addressing trauma's physical manifestations can be critical in healing and moving forward in life with more joy, confidence and freedom. Here is a good overview of somatics in general. Here is another good article discussing its effectiveness in treating PTSD. Also, many of the tools used in somatic therapy like breathing and mindfulness based approaches have been well proven to help improve well-being. 

Exploring the Diversity of Somatic Therapy Modalities

Somatic therapy and somatic coaching, encompasses a wide array of techniques and approaches, each designed to harness the body's healing potential. A skilled practitioner tailors these methods to meet the unique needs of every client, facilitating the release of pent-up emotions and enabling a life of freedom, confidence, and happiness. Below are some of the key modalities within somatic approaches. In my own practice, I utilize many of these methods to allow clients to move forward in their lives. As I am a coach and healer, not a therapist, we focus on how we can create an environment in the body which supports and doesn’t hinder growth and helps you meet your forward thinking goals.

  • Somatic Experiencing: Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, this approach focuses on resolving trauma by releasing and integrating trapped energy through gentle movements and mindful awareness.

  • Hakomi Therapy: Founded by Ron Kurtz, Hakomi marries mindfulness and body awareness with non-violent communication principles to unearth and transform unconscious patterns stored within the body.

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Created by Pat Ogden, this method blends traditional talk therapy with body-based interventions to address trauma and attachment issues, emphasizing the connection between bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

  • Bioenergetic Analysis: Alexander Lowen's approach combines psychoanalytic theory and physical work to explore the interplay between physical and emotional experiences, focusing on releasing muscular tension that holds emotional energy.

  • Body-Mind Centering: This technique, developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, delves into movement patterns and body systems to promote awareness and integration of body and mind through movement, touch, and guided imagery.

  • Somatic Hypnosis: An innovative approach that combines somatic techniques with traditional hypnosis to process deep emotions and achieve clarity and peace of mind.

  • Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy: This method integrates yoga practices with trauma-informed care principles, using postures, breathwork, and mindfulness to regulate the nervous system and heal trauma.

  • Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: Eugene Gendlin's approach emphasizes deep listening to the body's wisdom, accessing the "felt sense" of bodily experience to facilitate emotional healing and life shifts.

These diverse modalities underscore somatic therapy's adaptability and its capacity to address a broad spectrum of mental and physical health issues through the body's innate wisdom and healing capabilities.

Somatic Therapy vs. Traditional Talk Therapy: A Comparative Insight

For those new to the concept of somatic therapy, understanding its distinction from traditional psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy is crucial. The primary difference lies in the approach and focus of each therapy type. Talk therapy centers on verbal communication, where discussions of emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and past experiences aim to provide insight and resolve psychological issues. This method often employs structured approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, emphasizing cognitive understanding and verbal interactions to foster self-awareness and improve mental health.

Somatic Therapy vs Talk Therapy

Conversely, somatic therapy takes a holistic route, emphasizing the intricate connection between the mind and body. It acknowledges that emotional and psychological distress manifest as physical sensations, which can be addressed through body-centered techniques. This form of therapy utilizes experiential exercises, mindfulness, movement, and touch to explore and alleviate these bodily sensations. The goal is to enhance body awareness, release stored tension, and improve the nervous system's regulation, promoting a comprehensive integration of mind, body, and spirit. In my coaching practice, it’s been used to great effect helping my clients move forward and stop being stuck. 

How exactly does Somatic Therapy work?

Somatic therapy's techniques, such as breathwork, body scanning, and somatic experiencing, diverge from the cognitive focus of talk therapy, offering a path to healing that incorporates physical engagement and awareness. This approach does not solely rely on pharmaceuticals, presenting a balanced and drug-free alternative for addressing mental health challenges. In essence, while talk therapy addresses psychological issues through dialogue and cognitive processes, somatic therapy provides a holistic healing experience by engaging the body in the therapeutic journey, catering to individuals' unique needs and preferences for a more integrated and embodied form of well-being.

The Timeline for Results in Somatic Coaching and Therapy 

A common question among those considering somatic therapy is how quickly it can produce results. The benefits of somatic therapy can be experienced almost immediately. The initial step in the process involves inducing a state of deep relaxation within the body. This foundational phase is critical as it prepares the nervous system to safely process and heal from underlying issues, a process that, for many, can feel uniquely transformative right from the start. This is great because, as clients' goal is always to move forward in life, when we get the present moment right, everything else takes care of itself. 

effects of Somatic Therapy
Putting the Pieces Together

Beyond the initial sessions, the efficacy of somatics builds with consistent practice. As clients continue to engage with the methods, the cumulative effects begin to unfold, leading to significant improvements across various aspects of their lives. This gradual, yet steady, progression underscores the therapy's potential to facilitate long-term healing and personal growth. By fostering an environment where the body feels safe and relaxed, somatic therapy offers a pathway to not only address specific challenges but also to enhance overall well-being and resilience which actively creates opportunity in the body to move forward!

Here is a general track for somatic therapy and coaching:

  1. Consultation: Before any coaching journey begins, clients will fill in a couple of assessments to better gauge where they are in their lives, what their challenges are and what are the best approaches to manage their problems. 

  2. Initial Session: The first session will include exercises and movements to specifically address any challenges that are holding the client back from creating the results they want in their lives. 

  3. Exercises: Between each session (online or offline) the client will have exercises to support what was realized in the sessions. This creates consistency and allows for much better results both in the short term and the long term.

  4. Follow-Up: It’s important to have accountability and check-ins to determine if the initial goals are being respected and the course of the program is moving the client in the right direction. If anything needs to be modified or changed, the coach and client will address accordingly. 

  5. Wrap-up: After the initial coaching journey is over, and primary goals are met the coach will invite the client to take the assessments again, measure their progress and equip the client with the tools and resources to continue forward with confidence, joy and enthusiasm. 

Concluding Thoughts: The Rising Appeal of Somatic Therapy in Australia

Australia's growing mental and physical health challenges have led to a growing interest in alternative therapies, with somatic therapy emerging as a particularly promising option. As Australians become increasingly disillusioned with conventional mental health care—often criticized for its reliance on pharmaceuticals, lengthy therapies, and expensive programs—the search for effective, holistic solutions is on the rise. Somatic therapy, with its focus on addressing the root causes of issues through body awareness and mind-body integration, offers a compelling alternative. I am also a huge advocate for moving forward: As a coach, our work is geared towards a better future, not dwelling too much on the past. Conventional therapy has its place and is needed for more serious mental health issues but in order to grow and evolve we need to be in touch and present with our bodies NOW! 

This approach not only promises immediate relief but also ensures lasting change, aligning perfectly with the desires of those seeking to improve their quality of life without the drawbacks of traditional treatments. Its effectiveness across a broad spectrum of issues—from psychological disorders to chronic physical conditions—makes it an attractive choice for Australians. As somatic therapy continues to demonstrate its value, it stands as a beacon for those looking for a deeper, more meaningful path to wellness, one that harmonizes the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of health. In doing so, it offers a powerful antidote to the prevailing challenges faced by many in the country, positioning Australia as a fertile ground for the growth and acceptance of alternative therapeutic practices.

How Can I Help?

Somatic Therapist in Australia

Are you a leader, influencer, or high-performer seeking transformation through somatic therapy, wellness coaching, or breathwork? With over 7 years of expertise and having positively impacted the lives of more than 10,000 individuals, I am here to guide you on your journey to peak performance and holistic health. My own path to healing—navigating severe physical and mental health challenges—led me across Asia, where I learned from Zen masters, healers, and global experts. This unique blend of Eastern wisdom and Western practices fuels my approach, aiming to foster profound, sustainable change for my clients. Let's embark on this journey together, crafting a path that resonates with your aspirations and challenges.

Reach out to explore how we can unlock your fullest potential.

Disclaimer: The above article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. It is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute psychological or medical professional advice. I don't diagnose medical conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.

If you already are under the care of a doctor or under medical treatment, follow the advice and treatment recommended by your doctor. For any medical emergency, please call relevant authorities. 

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