“I can feel it in my gut”
“The hair on the back of my neck stood up”
“I’m struggling and I can’t eat/sleep/think properly”
Are any of these statements familiar to you? Have you said or heard anything like them? Then you understand that our bodies are sending us messages all the time. Our bodies are also intimately involved in what is going on inside our minds. In somatic coaching we talk a lot about the body, mind, spirit connection but we mean spirit in a secular, accessible, energetic sense.
I came to this work, in part, by going through my own recovery from a traumatic physical injury. Through that journey I came to understand my body very differently and it totally transformed that relationship. I used to think of my body mostly as a vessel or a tool of which I was in command, or I just didn’t pay it very much attention at all. Through the process of healing and growth I learned how to listen on a much deeper level to the messages I was getting. If you’ve ever done any physical exertion, you probably understand the difference between “good” and “bad” pain. One where you are growing and challenging yourself and one where you might be hurting yourself. Learning that line became critical for me in my recovery.
As I moved through this journey, I began to see a broader application of this work. I began to see that this struggle exists in others all around me. I wondered how I could incorporate this learning into my positive psychology coaching practice. How could I help my clients get in touch with the signals and messages from their body? How could I get them to work through their healing and growth using their physicality to help them? And finally, how could I help them incorporate what they learned into the full body, mind, spirit system. This is when I found the evidence-based practice of somatic coaching.
The origin of the word sôma comes from the ancient Greek word σῶμα or body in its wholeness. It is distinct from conversational coaching because it taps into and uses the physical sensations of the client. There is a cultivated awareness of and attention to the act of being present and aware as a bodily person. We then use the physical sensations as a tool to gain awareness, openness, and practice movement while remaining grounded in compassion, self-presence and wisdom.
In my experience it opens an extra layer of power and influence with clients. I use it to help us tap into a deeper, inner wisdom and help my clients learn to connect with their physical sensations to bring a new level of harmony. It is also an effective tool if your clients ever become overwhelmed with emotion. It has been one of the most effective ways I’ve helped my clients move through these emotions and calm down. Tapping into the soma or body can help when my clients have felt stuck, unable to verbalize what is happening. When we stop and breathe and connect with our body it can often bring us a sense of presence enough to engage more cognitively and encourage verbalization.
A word of caution however, this is not a technique that should be attempted without some careful training and planning. Somatic coaching can unlock deeply held emotion or even trauma that is being held in the body unbeknownst to your clients. This practice must be entered into carefully with plans for containment if necessary. It is both an art and a science to practice the listening and attunement needed to create the space for this practice and move your client safely and effectively through it. Luckily this is a rapidly growing field included in the scientific study of both positive psychology and coaching psychology so there is lots of research that can be tapped into.
Learn more about Somatic Coaching
If you want to learn more, please join the IPPC’s up and coming workshop called Learning the Essentials of Somatic Coaching on Thursday 2nd December at 10am EST. Just click here to learn more and secure your place.
If that time doesn’t work for you, you can still sign up for the session and you’ll get the recording. In the session I will cover more about the principles and essentials of this practice along with an opportunity to practice it yourself with my guidance.