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“Well, it’s done!” Bonnie said with a sideways glance, her eyes not quite meeting mine. A twist of her lips said, I survived, but barely.

Bonnie had come to see me shortly after A.H., her high school sweetheart and husband of more than a decade, told her he was moving out of their condo; he didn’t love her anymore. Within the throes of this shock and the stress of reordering her once familiar and stable life through a mediation process, Bonnie had been emotionally floundering.

“I didn’t lose it in the mediator’s office,” she said, recounting the ordeal. “But I’ve been crying ever since I left. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that now we are legally separated.” She settled into the soft couch across from me, and reached for the box of tissues. “This has made my back ache worse; my whole body feels like it’s in a vice. And on top of that he’s not responding to any of my texts!”

Somatic Psychology

What if you were guided in real-time not only through technique but also via feedback from the client’s autonomous nervous system—objective feedback from the client’s body, as well as what the client volunteers about his/her body and intuition during your therapy sessions?

Sound mechanistic? Perhaps too medically invasive?

In truth, it is possible to humanly obtain immediate feedback from the body, using a stethoscope (an electronic or ordinary one) to listen to the clients’ digestive system’s sounds, the psychoperistalsis. The sounds we hear reveal intriguing information about the level of accuracy, quality, and attunement of the touch we’re applying.

Somatic Psychology

I entered my room. I like my therapy room. It is large, spacious and
painted in my favourite colours: dark aubergine, purple and lilac. It is not the exact shade of lilac I envisioned when describing it to the decorator, but I like it now; the touch of pinkish lilac makes me feel softer, warmer. A dash of green lawn hides beyond the azure curtains.

What did my client say yesterday? That it was the first time she had noticed that the walls of my room are pink. So many times she had been in this room – for how many years now? Over two years, almost every fortnight; over fifty sessions of at least one hour each. But still she hadn’t noticed the pink walls, despite being artistic. In her work she employs a great deal of awareness regarding the nature of colour and the slight differences between shades.

Somatic Psychology

Even in somatic psychotherapy circles we still don’t appreciate enough just how fully physical behavior is. The implicit, or body memory, is not at all linear— not one event per behavior. There could be, and likely are, numerous events that might rise to threshold for recollection, and which are associated with any state, any emotion, any behavior.

Reviews

Trauma and Memory illuminates the relationship between the body, memory and emotions. Levine brings hope to trauma sufferers with somatic techniques, but also highlights the complexity of combating traumatic memory. We must take the time to better comprehend the connection between our bodies and emotions, and work towards transforming the responses associated with traumatic memories. Ultimately, Trauma and Memory is a stepping-stone towards a better understanding of the mechanisms of memory through its application of the somatic experience approach.