Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is a body-oriented talk therapy developed in the 1980’s by Pat Ogden that is enriched by contributions from the fields of attachment, neuroscience, and dissociation. SP blends cognitive and emotional approaches, verbal dialogue, and physical interventions that directly address the implicit memories and neurobiological effects of trauma.
By using bodily experience as a primary point of entry into the trauma therapy, rather than the events of the “story,” we attend to how the body is processing information, and its interface with emotions and cognitive meaning making. The body is important because a person “remembers” past trauma through sensorimotor reliving non-verbal iterations of the historical traumatic event.
So as a client experiencing Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, you won’t be asked the details of your trauma, but rather the therapist will pay attention to your movements and gestures, changes in breath, changes in facial color or expression, etc as you talk, because the body could be sharing something that the brain can’t make sense of.
SP can help with trauma and attachment related issues such as:
- Panic attacks
- Intense and emotional disturbing reactions that seem out of place to the present experience
- Feeling stuck or frozen in familiar situations without understanding why
- Difficulties concentrating due to fear, upsetting thoughts, or unwelcome body sensations
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulties enjoying life, feeling hopeful, or experiencing pleasure
- Persistent negative self-talk
- Low self-esteem or self-worth
- Conflict in relationships
- Difficulties maintaining relationships
Trauma can be caused by any of the following:
- Car accidents
- Physical abuse/assault
- Sexual abuse/assault
- Emotional Abuse
- Medical procedures
- Experiences of oppression (racism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc)
- Adverse childhood experiences (growing up with alcoholism or substance abuse in the home, a family member with mental illness, a parent going to jail, neglect, and/or poverty).
“Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event, a series of events, or a set of enduring conditions, in which: the individual’s ability to integrate his/her/their emotional experience is overwhelmed.”
-Saakvitne et al
For more information please visit the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute here.