Somatic Counseling Therapy FAQs 2017-03-24T15:42:37+00:00

Somatic Counseling Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the more common questions which people ask me about my the somatic influence on my Portland counseling practice.


Somatic therapy derives from the work of Wilhelm Reich. Like other “body-centered” therapy practices such as Radix, Bioenergetics, Hakomi, and Core Energetics, the somatic counseling method applies the principle of mind-body unity in an integrated approach to personal growth.
somatic counseling, somatic therapy
There are at least three important differences. First, traditional therapy was founded by doctors. They founded therapy upon a medical model which views clients as either healthy or ill.

Somatic counseling is founded upon the humanistic model. This views clients as persons whose issues place them somewhere on a continuing spectrum of personal growth. My clients are not patients; they are not pathologized.

Another important difference is how somatic counseling considers personal growth. The mind/body unity implies that profound change must not only be insightful (cognitive). It must also be experienced emotionally (affective). And, it must affect the body (somatic). Deep personal growth is not just a mental experience, it is a whole person experience.

Traditional counseling relies primarily upon talk as its technique for generating insight and change. However somatic counseling techniques are more vast in scope. In my Portland therapy practice, of course I talk with my clients. However, I also may use any of a host of techniques for working with feelings and the body.

Somatic therapy awakens clients to a vital and authentic experience of life. As the work progresses, clients may resolve their presenting issues. They may also begin to experience themselves becoming more fully alive.

Certain themes and benefits underlie the somatic counseling. They are described at this link: Body-Oriented Therapy Benefits.

The mind and body are a unity. Each mirrors the other. For example, the unconscious is mirrored in the body’s patterns of chronic muscular tension.

The principle of mind/body unity confirms Wilhelm Reich’s discovery that you cannot affect lasting personal change without also having changed the body, especially its chronic tensions.

We experience emotion when the body’s subtle biophysical energy (orgone, qi, prana) flows through the body. “Stuck” feelings of fear, pain, anger, longing, complexes, character defenses, repressions, and other issues are held in the chronic tensions of your body. These tensions distort the flow of our life force. We experience these distortions as mental discomfort.

If the principle of mind/body unity is real, then it follows that somatic therapy which addresses the body’s tensions can provide another avenue for affecting personal change.

No. The old styles of Reichian work can indeed be intrusive and demanding. But later generations of neo-Reichian work, especially somatic counseling, have tended to become much softer in their approach to working with the body.
Somatic therapy differs significantly from verbal therapies. If feelings are present, they should be worked with. And so, as counselor, I often will encourage my clients to slow down and experience their feelings, not just talk about or over them.

Therefore counseling sessions often will work with feelings such as fear, pain, anger, and longing, and this may involve crying, yelling, etc.

Why focus on feeling feelings, rather than just talk about them? Because in the feeling of emotions, the biophysical energy locked in the body’s chronic tensions can become released.

The experience of our feelings for what they really are, leads to their transformation. And so usually the result of feeling difficult feelings is that end of session my clients feel relief and greater well-being.

For some clients, the direction of their work is to rediscover their capacity to feel and integrate their feelings. Typically these clients feel deadened, numb. They have missed out on life’s richness.

For these clients, the direction of somatic therapy work is towards centering them in their inner experience. Loosening chronic muscular tensions to allow for the experience and discharge of long-held feelings also is important.

As these clients release stuck feelings of anger, fear, pain, and longing, they awaken to their capacity for love, trust, pleasure, and fulfillment. They become more alive.

While some persons need to develop their capacity to feel their feelings, other clients are all to familiar with their feelings. They are swamped and flooded by chaotic feelings which sometimes overwhelm them.

For these clients, the direction of somatic counseling is towards strengthening the sense of self, defining and strengthening boundaries, learning to contain feelings, and developing a greater sense of being grounded. .

Somatic Topics on My Website

Also, you may want to explore these other body oriented therapy discussions on my website: body oriented therapy and focusing – a listening within skill.

Explore Somatic Therapy with a Free Consultation

If you are considering somatic therapy with me, feel welcome to meet with me in my NE Portland office for a 50-minute complimentary consultation wherein you can share your interest in somatic work, and explore the “chemistry” of our possibly working together. To arrange a consultation online now, just use the “Consultation” button below.

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Use this button to schedule your 50-minute consultation to discuss your interests and my program.
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