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 What is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is an approach that sees the body as an important part of who we are and who we want to be. SP enables us to discover and change physical and psychological patterns that keep us stuck in past traumatic events. We do this by focusing on the body, which holds a lot of information and wisdom to tap into. It’s about slowing down and paying attention to how we organise our world—our inner world, which then influences our outer world. Becoming aware of thoughts and emotions is important, but just as importantly the body can show us how traumatic experiences impact our present day life. 

What are 'traumatic experiences'?

Trauma is the aftermath that occurs after perceiving a threat to your life or an overwhelming negative experience. This can differ from one person to the next and it does not necessarily have to be from a major catastrophe. This could be caused by a shocks to the system such as:

  •  an accident of some kind

  •  a painful fall

  •  a sudden fright

  •  loss of a loved one

  •  natural disasters

  •  invasive medical or dental procedures

  •  birth stress, for mothers and infants

 

These shocks can get stuck in the body and in our nervous system, continuing to effect us long after they are finished.  This occurs if the brain and body believe that the person is still in survival mode, either in fright, flight or compete shut-down. SP is helpful in working with these states and safely releasing them from the body. Great care is taken to not re-traumatise the person, using mindfulness, awareness and collaboration to bring about change.

Who is SP for?

This kind of trauma can impact us in ways that may be outside our awareness, even taking years to manifest. A person may develop anxiety for seemingly unknown reasons, not realising their nervous system has not recovered from the shock recently experienced. Others may suffer from depression, not realising that their body's state of collapse is influencing their low mood and is due to something in their past. Signs that trauma may still be stuck in your body are very individual, but a few common symptoms are:

  • increased heart rate

  • difficulty breathing

  • being jumpy and on guard at all times

  • spaced out, unable to think straight, 'brain fog'

  • difficulty sleeping

  • numbing out with alcohol, drugs, endless TV

There can also be strange coincidences of events or accidents repeating over and over. These may link back to an event that we have long forgotten, but somehow plays out in our lives in an effort to be resolved. Or we avoid certain situations, not quite understanding why the urge to stay away is so strong. SP helps with these issues by using the skill of mindfulness to develop a relationship to the body and what it holds.

To learn more, here is a link to a brief video by SP founder Pat Ogden.

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