Psycho-Physical Therapy

Explorations in Somatic Psychotherapy

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What is Somatic Resourcing?

Resources are those things, actions, and qualities we can draw upon for aid in times of need.
Therapeutically, resources are defined as those actions, awarenesses, and abilities that support a person in maintaining a sense of self and a feeling of competency, regardless of what is occurring in his or her environment. There are many different categories of resources: psychological, emotional, intellectual, relational, artistic, spiritual, somatic, etc. In Psycho-Physical Therapy we focus primarily on the interface of two resource categories, the psychological and the somatic. When a person has inadequate resources, their ability to function fully and successfully in the demanding situations of life is undermined.

We divide resources into two basic types, creative and survival.
Creative resources help us live up to our full potential. They are abilities such as the capacity to think clearly, feel the full range of sensations and emotions, sustain intimacy, to be physically flexible and strong, etc. They support our living in a balanced and creative way. In contrast, we draw on survival resources when we are overwhelmed or threatened. Survival resources are abilities such as fighting, withdrawing, running away, dissociating, freezing etc. When we can't take any more stimulation we turn to survival resources for support. These resources help us to cope effectively and survive during periods of stress or danger. Both creative and survival resources are important. The therapeutic process mainly focuses on the building or refining of creative resources.

Somatic resources are a category of resources that are body based.
They emerge from a person's physical experience. These resources are the anatomical and physiological qualities and functions that support a physically felt experience of self and well-being. There are literally thousands of somatic resource possibilities ranging from gross locomotor functions such as the act of walking, to the fine motor control needed by a craftsman. They include the ability to process neurological information or perform important physiological functions. Somatic resources can be either creative or survival in nature, and although they are specifically physical, they are never exclusive of what is occurring psychologically.

All aspects of human experience are integrative in nature.
Parts are never separate from the whole. They mutually influence each other and contribute to an integrated whole life experience. If one level of our complex functioning is diminished, dissociated or dysfunctional, the whole life experience is affected. The functioning of our mind and the functioning of our body is integrated.

Somatic resources are primarily associated with different anatomical and physiological functions that interface with a person's psychology.
The task of expanding or developing new somatic resources requires a person to become aware of these anatomical and physiological functions. To do this a person needs greater awareness of their inner body sensations and feelings. Greater awareness enhances the capability of a person to feel the embodiment of the self (what is called the “somatic sense of self”). Awareness of the somatic sense of self is the most fundamental and essential somatic resource. From this awareness comes a clients ability to observe and if necessary alter the functioning of their body. For a client to experience a felt sense of competency in their physical performance, they must be able to experience their body functioning in the ways that they intend it to. This felt experience of physical capacity has a significant influence on a person's psychological sense of competency and agency in the world. The awareness of new options is a key to the process of transforming ineffective psychological or physical patterns into newer and more effective patterns.

What we experience physically and what we believe mentally are intimately connected.
If we believe we can perform an action, it is much more likely we will be successful at the task than if we believe we can not do it. For example, when a person feels they have strength and coordination to push undesired objects away, they are more likely to believe that it is possible to secure their personal boundaries by pushing away what they do not want. Those who lack the physical resource of being able to push away will sense this limitation and most likely form beliefs about their inability to sustain their physical boundaries. They may compensate for this feeling by developing other strategies, including characterlogical styles like aggressive posturing towards others, using their energy or words to push others away, emotional outbursts, a predisposition for quick withdrawal, postural or energetic collapse, etc. What we physically feel has a strong influence on what we think and believe. Establishing new somatic resources can affect what a person believes and how they feel.

The first order of work in building somatic resources is to support a client in coming into a sustained conscious awareness of his/her inner body sensations and feelings.
This awareness process is necessary for the study of movement patterns and for the development of new movement options. The next order of business in building somatic resources is to assess the state of the client's existing and missing body resources. The task of improving existing somatic resources or building new ones begins with an assessment. It is important to evaluate whether the lack of resource is primarily characterlogical or traumatic in nature, as this will influence the approach and style taken in deciding upon therapeutic strategies and interventions. An assessment is also made
about the appropriateness of working with somatic resourcing at the current time. Assessments are not a single event but continue throughout the entire therapeutic process.

Having made an assessment of the client's existing somatic resources, the next step is to determine what new resourcing approaches and interventions are best suited to the client's current situation. Both the current capacities of the client and the training and experience of the therapist are determining factors. There are four basic approaches that are used in the building of new somatic resources; they are awareness, education, movement work and hands-on bodywork.

The assessment of existing somatic resources and the building of new somatic resources is an essential aspect of Psycho-Physical Therapy. Somatic resourcing is an important part of all Psycho-Physical Therapy workshops and trainings.

For Information about workshops and trainings in Psycho-Physical Therapy please check the Workshops and the Professional Trainings pages at this website.