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What is Somatic Therapy?

January 27, 20235 min read
What is Somatic Therapy? 


Somatic Therapies, also known as somatic experiencing, are any mind-body healing practices that put the body at the center of healing from stress or trauma. While talk therapy can be extremely helpful to many clients, it rarely involves the body, and prioritizes language as a way to describe our emotional state and the events in our life. Modern day society prioritizes things of the mind - analysis, finding solutions, critical thinking, uncovering our thought patterns in order to change, etc. All of this is amazing and important work, as long as we don’t leave the body behind… 

A Quick Story...

When I lived in New York, an amazing quote I heard from my yoga teacher really hit home and summarized how I felt personally and how I imagined other New Yorkers might feel walking around constantly looking down at phones, riding connectionless subways on their commute home, and avoiding eye contact with strangers - “Most of us live our life from the neck up”.

When going through my yoga certification, this quote hit me like a ton of bricks. I too found myself consuming more and more information to enrich the mind, get ahead in my work, and come off as more cultured and intelligent in my social circles all at the expense of sensing, using my intuition, and tapping into the wisdom that my body holds. In short - I felt completely disconnected from my body and tried to rationalize everything I felt in it through the mind. 

Our Body Keeps the Score

The truth is that our body stores emotions, stressors and triggers on a physical - or somatic - level. By this I quite literally mean that our muscles and fascia - the connective tissue that supports the structure of our body - are physically impacted by the hormones that stressful or traumatic emotions create. This leaves a physical imprint on us any time a stressful or challenging event happens in our life. We feel a jolt of chemicals flooding the body and the emotional memory is created physically.

You may notice that certain emotions are most strongly felt in certain parts of the body, or notice yourself carrying tension in body parts like your neck, upper or lower back, or your jaw. This appears differently for different people but one thing is for sure - none of us are immune from the impact our unprocessed emotions have on the body. 

We Can't Ignore the Body for Long

What I know now after years of coaching work is that this is the quickest path to burnout, chronic fatigue and further mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Our body doesn’t lie, only the mind has that capacity. What I see happening often is that a person will get messages from the body that often go unnoticed or ignored - brain fog, bad sleep, low energy, headaches, jaw pain, back pain, other pains that come up out of nowhere, autoimmune conditions, and so much more.

WIth traditional medicine, we look to solve the issue that came up - we take a painkiller for our migraine - instead of looking at the root cause of why the headache might be there in the first place. In my coaching work and personal healing journey, I discovered that the signals that the body sends in the form of aches, pains or disease is a warning sign - something that can’t be ignored too long if we want to live a healthy, successful life. 

Why Burnout Happens

I truly believe that reaching burnout, for example, is a result of ignoring micro-signals that the body sends for rest, relaxation, or the need for emotional processing for years on end. This looks like always going to bed at midnight to squeeze every ounce of “productivity” out of your waking hours, not getting a massage for years, or suppressing chronic low energy with 3 cups of coffee a day, to name just a few of the ways my former clients (and myself!) have ignored the signs and signals - the language of the body - in the past. 

Listening to the Body is The Way Out

Through somatic healing strategies - I was able to finally come home to myself. Somatic healing includes, but is not limited to, practices such as: dance, tapping, acupuncture, massage, reiki or other energy work, humming, breathwork, art therapy, yoga, and many others. These practices, when done intentionally and with the support of a trained practitioner, can help unlock things that are stored away that we may not even be aware of. This is the power of going beyond words or engaging the thinking mind to tap into what’s actually going on below the surface. 

The Body is the Key 🔑

I’ve seen how for many of my clients, using something as simple and ever-present as the breath can create massive therapeutic benefits. I love seeing the awe on a client's face after their first breathwork experience when describing the lightness they might feel or the processing of past events that happened in a matter of an hour (something that might verbally take us weeks or months to work through).

The body is the key to our true healing and freedom. Especially if you feel stuck after years of therapy, or on the contrary - aren’t sure where to even begin to break through your current mindset or limitations - involving the body in releasing pent up tension, letting go of the emotions we hold in our tissues, and working on lightening the load so many of us carry physically is a great place to turn to. 

Mindset + Wellness Practices = Powerful Combo

My coaching approach includes both 1:1 coaching as well as 1:1 virtual wellness sessions. If for any reason breathwork is not right for you, we can turn to meditation, tapping, or other ways to tap into and calm our nervous system. 

Interested in trying your first virtual Breathwork session? The easiest next step is to schedule your 20 Minute Coffee Chat to help me understand your goals and what you’d like to work through to see how I can support you with this life changing self care practice. This is a meaningful healing strategy for your mindset, physical and emotional health and I can’t wait for you to experience it!

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Marina Kay

Marina Kay is a Wellness and Mindset Coach for Professional Women. Having overcome burnout, she decided to reinvent her life to prioritize wellness, travel, and contribution in the space of personal coaching. She uses tools like breathwork, meditation and somatic healing techniques to help her clients overcome chronic stress and rise in leadership without burning out.

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