Body Stuff: Somatics
23 Feb 2016

body stuff

Somatics is another word for what I am talking about when I talk about body stuff. I am not a somatic psychotherapist, but I am informed by somatic therapies/modalities. Mostly that means I am trying to learn to listen to my body. And I am trying to watch, sense, tune into the client’s body.

I find myself tuning into my body more and more, and especially in the counselling room. When I don’t know what is going on in a session, if I can be still and centred, my body will give me valuable clues. Or I will tune into the client’s here-and-now experience at a deeper level, and the clues will be there. If I am patient. If I can surrender.

Sometimes I will feel a rush in my gut, or my eyes will feel watery or my throat will feel tight. Then I ask myself, “Is this my feeling or the client’s? What is happening here?” Then I will be curious and watch and wait. Usually the truth will out. I will settle after I talk to myself about what might have been triggered in me, or I will mention the feeling to the client, or check with the client what is going on in their body.

Sometimes breathing patterns in the client (or me) will help us see what is going on. I might find the client is over-breathing, or has stopped breathing. I might directly address this or simply match the client’s breath to see if something shifts. Overall, working with the body requires :

  • Observation
  • Openness
  • Curiosity
  • Self Awareness
  • Immediacy
  • Respect
  • Patience

When I speak of openness I mean a sense of surrender, of a willingness to be present to the moment, even if that means I will be aware of my issues that are being triggered. So I might be feeling anger for the client, or my own sadness, or fear. It’s a feeling of not running away from my own experience – or the client’s.

There is no judgement of good/bad, wrong/right in this surrendered place. Sometimes I need to breathe and consciously stay with discomfort (physical or emotional). My goal is to be more and more present to the client, so we get more clues about a new way forward, inward or outward.

And all of this “work” is going on in a moment, or a few minutes, or a whole session…or after a session. Yes- it is work.  It can be tiring. It can be peaceful and affirming. And it starts with the body.