The Applicability of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Trauma

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d'Aoust, Elizabeth
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Scholars and health professionals have been advocating for a holistic conceptualization of mind and body as one self-reflexive system for over a century. The prevalence of trauma and its many harmful impacts on the human body-mind is steadily worsening over time. The mainstream psychotherapeutic community continues to focus largely on cognitive approaches to trauma treatment, despite a growing awareness in the field as to the value of somatic psychotherapy approaches which incorporate bottom-up methods for processing, enabling clients to process and resolve trauma symptoms without verbally recounting the painful details of past experiences. While there is not yet an overwhelming preponderance of research in existence to support the efficacy of somatic modalities, there is considerable non-empirical clinical wisdom as to their applicability to the treatment of posttraumatic symptoms. This paper explores the various dimensions of trauma-related experience as informed by the field of interpersonal neurobiology, before going on to investigate the history, development, essential elements, and treatment phases of one particular somatic psychotherapeutic approach, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP). The available research that speaks to the efficacy and applicability of SP as an appropriate intervention for the treatment of trauma is examined and a psychoeducational resource is then provided in response to the literature reviewed, in the form of an outline for a guided, six-week peer supervision group for psychotherapists looking to incorporate somatic psychotherapy interventions into their clinical practice while working with traumatized individuals.
trauma , posttraumatic stress disorder , sensorimotor psychotherapy , somatic psychotherapy , interpersonal neurobiology