What is Somatic Psychology?

Somatic Psychology has its roots in the biology of the body. Wilhelm Reich, an early student of Freud’s, is considered to be the Father of Somatic Psychology. During his psychoanalytic training with Freud he became most interested in what the “body” of the patient was doing rather than what the patient was talking about. He followed his curiosity and began physically manipulating his patients’ bodies as a way of breaking down their armoring and defensive systems. His very direct approach to the human form activated much psycho-emotional suffering that the patient had been holding. It was only after this tremendous discharge of one’s held life force could the real therapy begin, according to Reich.

Although many Somatic Psychologists don’t directly manipulate their clients’ bodies, the orientation as to what their body is saying is paramount in the therapeutic relationship. Recognizing that all traumatic experiences, whether psychological, emotional, or physical are reflected in body language, posture, movement, and expression shifts the context of therapy. As Dr. Ida P. Rolf, the founder of Rolfing®, said, “There is no psychology, only distorted physiology.”