What is Sensorimotor psychotherapy?

What is Sensorimotor psychotherapy?

Sensorimotor psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach that integrates elements of somatic (body-based) therapy and traditional psychotherapy. It was developed by Pat Ogden, a psychologist and pioneer in the field of somatic psychology. Sensorimotor psychotherapy focuses on the relationship between the body and the mind, recognizing that traumatic experiences can be stored in the body and impact a person’s overall well-being.

The approach combines principles from neuroscience, attachment theory, and cognitive psychology to address the impact of trauma on an individual’s nervous system and bodily experiences. It emphasizes the importance of somatic awareness, meaning the ability to notice bodily sensations, movements, and patterns as they arise in the present moment.

Sensorimotor psychotherapy views the body as a source of valuable information and a pathway for healing. It recognizes that trauma can result in dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, leading to symptoms such as hypervigilance, dissociation, or chronic pain. By integrating mindfulness and body-oriented techniques, the therapy aims to help individuals develop a greater awareness of their bodily sensations, discharge pent-up energy related to trauma, and re-establish a sense of safety and regulation.

During sensorimotor psychotherapy sessions, the therapist may guide the client to pay attention to their physical sensations, notice patterns of movement, explore the impact of past experiences on their body, and practice techniques to regulate their nervous system. By working through traumatic memories in a safe and embodied way, individuals can process and release stored trauma, promote integration of body and mind, and improve their overall well-being.

Sensorimotor psychotherapy is often used to address various types of trauma, including but not limited to developmental trauma, attachment-related issues, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can be used as a standalone therapy or integrated into other therapeutic modalities, depending on the needs and preferences of the individual.

Shervan K Shahhian

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