somatic expeiencing

The Integration of the Mind and Body in Couples Counseling

I’ll start by saying the reality that we (most people) often talk about the mind and body as separate entities is an issue. No one talks about their arm and their body as if they are two different things. The mind is part of the body and the body is of course heavily influenced by the mind. Some people are more in tune with their bodies and can experience a profound impact when they are prompted to examine how their body reacts to different experiences with their partner. Sometimes, being aware of the physical space (and what happens when they get closer or further away) between one and their partner can be powerful.

Somatic Experiencing (comes from the root soma, meaning the body) can really help some couples in therapy. It can be as simple as your therapist noticing the movements and gestures you make as different statements are made. It could include asking partners to simply touch each other on the shoulder and see what comes up. It may encompass couples in conflict experimenting with how close they can get to each other without discomfort. For some, that may an arm’s distance away, and for some that could be a strong embrace.

There is pretty strong evidence to support involving examining bodily experiences during couples therapy. This post is not about examing this evidence, but a lot of it is rooted in Polyvagal theory and research on the “gut brain” (the idea that the gut has neuroreceptors that impact mood, etc., and even touching the stomach in certain ways can help relieve negative moods).

If you are interested in incorporating some body movements and techniques in your therapy, Cardinal Point Counseling can support that. If you are really interested in this idea, we can refer you to people who almost exclusively work with the body in counseling.

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