Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy focusing on helping clients attune to the unresolved motor movements that accompany a traumatic reaction. The body’s response to trauma often taps into the primitive survival mechanism of fight or flight in order to survive the traumatic event. If our bodies do not have the ability to fight back (because we assess that it is not safe to do so), or are not able to flee, for whatever reason, our bodies resort to doing whatever is needed in order to survive. Oftentimes, that response is to freeze (like the opposeum who plays dead) when the other survival options are not possible. If our bodies are not able to fully exert their full range of responses, this energy can get trapped and stuck in our bodies. If this happens, we can experience bodily dysregulation, either being hypo-aroused (paralyzed, feeling numbed, dissociated) or hyper-aroused (hypervigilant, overly activated, overwhelmed).
Dr. Pat Ogden, the founder of the Sensorimotor Institute, has developed a training program to teach clinicians how to help clients process these unresolved traumatic reactions in the body. Since trauma is stored in the body, the body is really the focus of the interventions as we work to help the autonomic nervous system become more regulated and fall more within what Dr. Ogden calls the ‘window of tolerance’. When we are in the ‘window of tolerance’, we are more grounded, and resourced and can access, through mindful exploration, what our bodies needed to do during the original trauma. We can help facilitate this connection and resolution in a safe and mindful way. The subsequent release allows for an integration of the experience and brings it to resolution.
I was fortunate enough to take the Sensorimotor Institute’s Trauma Training Program which consisted of monthly training weekends over the course of 8 modules. This training has helped me become more proficient in knowing and understanding how to help clients when their bodies become activated during trauma processing. Combined with Cognitive Therapy, EMDR and Attachment Theory, I use my knowledge of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to help clients become more regulated and transform the way trauma is held in their bodies.
To learn more about Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, please feel free to ask, or refer to their website at www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org.