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Somatic therapy (or somatic counseling) was designed to address pent-up physical and emotional tension caused by trauma. There are many ways to deal with this type of problem. West Coast Recovery Centers offers a variety of examples of somatic therapy to help clients in our program.

Explaining Trauma

When a person has trauma in their past, it often shows itself through mood swings and emotional stress. However, trauma has a second home in the physical body. Trauma can create a variety of mental issues, including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Confusion

Along with these, there are also quite a number of physical side effects of trauma, including:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea

With so many different side effects, there are also a variety of ways to handle them. One way is through somatic therapy. This method works on the mind/body connection to help with the many effects of trauma.

What Is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy helps treat individuals with post-traumatic stress and other trauma side effects. It connects a person’s mind and body by applying both psychotherapy and physical therapy during treatment. This combination allows people to release pent-up tension that is weighing on their physical and emotional well-being.

How Does Somatic Therapy Work?

Somatic therapy involves learning how to calm or discharge stress, tension, and trauma. There are many ways to become body-focused. This helps people calm their nervous systems that have been overloaded by stress.

Breathing Exercises

Often, breathing exercises are the first thing that people learn through somatic therapy that continues into their post-treatment life. They can be most effective for those who find themselves in consistently elevated states of anxiety.  

When a person first begins to understand their breathing, it may seem tedious. However, this ability to concentrate on the tedium of breathing will lead to a calmer feeling. When this concentration becomes second nature, anxiety and physical tension will dissipate. 

A person who can regulate their breathing will find that they have more control over their physiology than they may have previously thought. This means that in moments of stress and anxiety, they will be able to focus on and slow their own breathing. Thus, their heart rate will steady, their thoughts will calm down, and their anxiety will have a better chance of dissipating.


For people who are working on breathing exercises, meditation can be a perfect bookend. With meditation, an individual will be able to put their breathing exercises into practice, and they will learn more about introspection.

People may struggle with the initial concentration necessary for meditation. However, with the proper guidance, they will find that they are able to clear their minds of negative thoughts. This is done through guided mantras or by learning to let go of negativity.  

Although meditation does have lasting effects, it is often used in the moment to momentarily take oneself out of a stressful day or situation. A person who can allow themselves the time to meditate will begin to find it easier to relax. They can unfocus their mind, unhitching it from the stress and anxiety of the situation.


Many people may wonder how dance can affect their trauma issues. The truth is that dancing involves quite a bit of motion and coordination. Even those who consider themselves to be bad dancers put in the effort.

Dance therapy accomplishes two main goals: allowing people to let go of their thoughts and let them engage in a fun physical activity. Dancing is also fun. For those who are reticent about dancing, it should always be done in a space where they feel safe to express themselves.

When people dance, they are often accompanied by music. Music has been shown to lift spirits, revive emotions, and put people in a good mood. Therefore, dancing to a favorite song can be a grand slam for individuals attempting to find relief from trauma.

Long-Term Effects of Somatic Therapy

For people who have taken part in somatic therapy, the effects can be life-altering. The skills learned through therapy often follow people into their post-treatment process. New skills and hobbies are found and incorporated into everyday life. 

There are people who practice weekly or even daily meditations regardless of their mood. They find that their ability to consistently center themselves has a profound effect on the way they live their lives. 

How Does West Coast Recovery Centers Implement Somatic Therapy?

West Coast Recovery Centers presents a varied group of programs that fall under the heading of somatic therapies. Clients take part in activities such as yoga, which has been proven to assist with physical and mental trauma. These programs exist in a variety of forms, and West Coast Recovery Centers is here to show clients how to best implement these ideas.

At West Coast Recovery Centers, we are well aware of the fact that trauma has both physical as well as mental side effects. The repercussions are felt throughout a person’s life and must therefore be dealt with accordingly. One of the best ways to go about this is through somatic therapy. This refers to the practice of simultaneously addressing both the physical and mental effects of trauma. Individuals utilizing this type of therapy may take part in mindfulness, dance, and breathing exercises. These activities will put them in touch with the ways in which their bodies can be controlled should they make the attempt. Learn more about this type of program by contacting West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509.