Somatic Therapy

Welcome to the Inner-healing Web Site

hosted by F. Michael Montgomery, LCSW, LMFT

LCS 6184, MFC 15488

Therapy for the heart, mind, body and spirit in a safe and healing setting

This Inner-healing web site is a resource center for the support and promotion of personal growth and healing.

My desire is to support people in their own healing through the compassionate and courageous work of their hearts.

Somatic Therapy

What is the focus of somatic therapy?

Somatic therapy is a holistically oriented therapy which integrates the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of each of us. It accomplishes this by helping us to become aware of our bodies and the sensations we experience through them. When our mind can be so busy with worries, schedules and concerns, our body’s awareness and breathing can help us to focus on what we are experiencing in the moment. It is so easy for our mind to get lost in what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future. When we take the time to focus, we can become aware of those places where we are “holding.” That is, we can recognize those places where we are tight, sore or uncomfortable. It may be our stomach, shoulders, neck or head or any other area of our body that we realize is tight or uncomfortable. We may not have even known of our discomfort until we stopped and paid attention.

How does somatic therapy work?

Taking time to check in with ourself provides us with an avenue for getting in touch with what we are feeling and experiencing rather than just being lost in our thoughts and activities. It is while focusing like this that we may notice other sensations or feelings that may arise. It is natural, especially if any of these sensations are uncomfortable, to want to change our focus, to move away from them.

What are these sensations about? The sensations we have tell us something about what is going on within us. Those areas where we are tight are areas where we are in some way holding on to something. Whenever we have had some painful or traumatic experience, we carry not only the memory and feelings connected with that experience, but we “remember” it physically as well. It is a bodily memory of that event. And it is expressed through a contraction of muscle or of tissue or a loss of freely flowing energy in an area of our body that is in someway connected with that event for us. Sometimes that connection may be very symbolic. Perhaps we struggle with someone who is a real “pain in the neck” and we find that our neck becomes tight when we are around them. Many times we may not be aware of what the connection is. It is not nearly as important to understand what the connection is as it is to simply be aware of what we are experiencing.

What do we do with our awareness?

What do we do when we notice our sensations? Stay with them! Notice how we may want to move away or do anything but stay with what we are experiencing. Yet it is so important that we stay with it as best we can. If we allow ourselves to be curious about what is happening, to want to explore and to honor what comes up for us, we are already involved in our healing. Even if we are only able to do this for a moment, it is a moment of healing.

The role of the therapist.

It is important here to comment on the role of the therapist. It is the task of the therapist to be very present in a supportive and caring way with the client. In being present with and focused on the client, the therapist is also in a place to give the client feedback about what is observed with the client. This support and feedback helps the client in becoming more aware of their own experience and helps to validate the client’s experience. This is an important aspect of the therapy.

The client generally experiences this as having a good and caring rapport with the therapist. If this is not present, it may be that the relationship is not a good match because of personality or other factors. On the other hand, there are those times when the experiences that are touched on in the client may bring up anger or pain from the client’s past that may become focused on the therapist. What is important to do here is to bring this up with the therapist. A good therapist will be willing and comfortable in helping the client to work through ALL of these experiences. This is an opportunity to work them through and not just keep them buried and remain stuck with them.

What happens through our awareness?

Through somatic therapy, as a person becomes more aware of their sensations, these sensations become the cues that “something” is going on for them. These cues become reminders to us to tap into what we are currently experiencing. We are so often unaware of what we are feeling and experiencing in the present moment. Whenever we can become more aware of what is happening with us, we can often make better choices and decisions. Being out of touch with our self is like being an outfielder in a baseball game with our backs to home plate. We don’t even know the ball is coming toward us until it sails past us. We certainly can’t catch it. For example, we may find that in a relationship we walk away from any disagreement. Somatic work can help us uncover what it is we are experiencing. We often genuinely don’t know what it is we are feeling. We may know we are uncomfortable but not sure what about. Getting in touch with whatever sensations we are aware of in the moment can help us in uncovering what is happening for us. This can lead to our being able to stay present in the relationship to work out whatever issues arise. Otherwise we may find ourselves endlessly repeating the same old patterns without resolving anything or being able to move forward.

Long term effects of somatic therapy.

Somatic therapy is like a tool we can use in our ongoing and lifelong journey of growth and healing. As we become more aware of our bodies and their sensations in a compassionate way (see Articles: What Is Healing About), we actively work on our healing. The awareness we develop we take with us always, whether in therapy or not. This allows us to live our lives in ways that is more reflective of who we are, what we believe in and what we cherish.

I want to acknowledge my mentors/teachers in the Lomi Community Clinic who gave so generously of their experience and knowledge and especially their hearts. I am forever grateful to them.

They are Robert K. Hall, M.D., Thomas Pope, MFT, and Ernestine Ward MFT.

Thank you all ever so much.

They can be reached at:

Lomi Counseling Clinic: 534 B Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (707) 579-0465

I also want to deeply thank my classmates who took the two year long intensive training with me for their openness, their willingness to take risks, their generous support of each and every one of us as well as the loving hearts that they, too, brought to this work.

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