Somatic Transformation

Somatic energy therapy refers to a holistic approach used primarily by counseling professionals to resolve trauma and restore psychological and physiological health.  The word somatic means ‘of or relating to the body”.  It is based on the Greek root word ‘soma’.   The basic concept is that body and mind are interrelated, and  psychological history or life experience is expressed in the body.

Somatic energy therapy has its roots in the work of  Dr. Peter Levine and Dr. Sharon Stanley.  Dr. Levine, an American therapist, who holds a doctor of biophysics and psychology and specializes in the area of stress and trauma developed Somatic ExperiencingR.   Dr. Sharon Stanley is a licensed psychotherapist and educator who in 2011 received the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors' President's Award for Distinguished Contributions.   She developed Somatic TransformationR.  These approaches are based on the concept that unresolved physiological changes experienced in trauma remain in the body as chronic emotional or physical suffering such as chronic migraines or depression.    The therapist uses gentle techniques to enable the client to re-experience and resolve the trauma.  The technique redirects awareness to inner resources that the client can use to process and heal each ‘small’ trauma.  The process is slow and very gradual allowing the client to integrate each piece and move the nervous system to a more stabilized place.   Further details about the approach can be found in an interview conducted by Victor Yalom, PhD, founder of with Dr. Peter Levine.

Somatic energy therapy is an approach used by various therapists and counselors.  As one clinical counselor (Richard Nevin) comments “The reason why somatic experiencing is so powerful is that it teaches people how to address their physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms from the body as well as from the mind”.

Specific Techniques


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