sensorimotor psychotherapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a holistic therapy approach that utilizes our body’s wisdom for healing trauma. Every person has a unique, innate capacity to cope with the world and a Sensorimotor Psychotherapy trained therapist can help you find it.

what is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy acknowledges that our bodies and nervous systems adapt to the world around us in order to keep us safe. When we go through a stress or trauma, our body protects us with its defensive systems such as fight, flight, or freeze. During a sensorimotor therapy session we learn to listen to these cues our bodies give us, and use them to begin to heal.

signs your body has been affected by trauma:

  • Being constantly on edge

  • Feeling “out of it”, numb, or dissociated

  • Experiencing rushes of anger

  • Tensing up or freezing in certain situations

  • Being unable to relax

  • No sense of joy or pleasure from life

These are normal responses to overwhelming situations, but they can get "stuck" and we experience them over and over again (sometimes for years). When using Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to treat trauma we attempt to process these stuck sensations so they do not continue to repeat.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy can also be helpful addressing past relational stress or trauma - either from painful relationships with caregivers or a difficult or abusive relationship. Those who have experienced past relational stress and trauma often describe experiencing the following:
 

signs of relational trauma:

  • Difficulty feeling connected to others

  • Having difficulty being alone

  • Trouble expressing your boundaries 

  • Taking on too much

  • Difficulty knowing what you want from life or relationships

  • Feeling too much or too little emotion

who does Sensorimotor Psychotherapy work for? 

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a great therapy approach for people who have not experienced much benefit from traditional talk therapy, or for those who are looking for a different type of therapy experience. In Sensorimotor Psychotherapy we focus less on talking, and more on mindfully following the body’s lead.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy helps us notice these parts of our experience:

  • Thoughts and beliefs (“I am a bad person”)

  • Emotions (sadness)

  • Physical sensations (a pit in my stomach)

  • Movements (my shoulders curling inward)

  • The 5 senses (I picture my caregiver and hear her yelling)

In a typical Sensorimotor Psychotherapy session we might choose one of these to start with, especially if it’s something you experience a lot (e.g. the pit in my stomach that always shows up when I see my boss). We will help you be mindfully aware as you track the various experiences listed above. This is how we follow the body’s wisdom toward healing. To learn more listen to my free somatic meditation.

why choose Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy was developed by Pat Ogden, PhD, who noticed that clients could access healing through their bodies when healing was not accessible through just talking. Sensorimotor means that we rely on the senses and our body’s movements to help ground us, to regulate emotions, and to process traumatic memories when our body remembers, but our mind does not.

We don’t ignore thoughts or emotions in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (see section above!), but we are aware that our bodies can also be affected by trauma. This is part of the holistic therapy approach that Sensorimotor Psychotherapy offers.

who practices Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute provides training to therapists in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

the 3 levels of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training:

  • Level I: SP for the Treatment of Trauma (80 contact hours)

  • Level II: SP for the Treatment of Attachment Injury (180 contact hours)

  • Level III: SP Certification (140 contact hours)

I have completed both Level I and Level II of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training, totaling 260 contact hours. Learn more about my credentials and training