What is Somatic Therapy©?

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Q & A with Hansen Counselling

Hansen Counselling and Consulting is dedicated to meeting the highest standards of mental, emotional, physical and social health through counselling clients and offering consultations to therapists.

Continually looking ahead and incorporating the latest research in brain science, while maintaining the simplicity needed to apply approaches that change lives. This includes developing skills for each client to deeply connect with themself and to being present in the now.

The old approaches are challenged, and capacity is built for the new way, allowing to effectively meet the needs of each client.

Hansen Counselling and Consulting also assists and supports counsellors to effectively counsel clients in difficult situations.

1- What happens in a Somatic experiencing© session?

This is a great question. I cannot say what happens in all Somatic experiencing© sessions, but I can speak to how this psychotherapist approaches a session. Somatic experiencing© often is about the body’s response, not just the mind and emotions. So, it is often about the how, not the what. Meaning, using the Somatic experiencing© lens, includes noticing the way the body responds. For example, this therapist notices the speed of the diction, the skin tone, the breath, the heart rate, the strength of intonation, what is said, what is not said… All of these details are considered during a session, informing this therapist of the level of activation in the central nervous system, which informs the therapist where to stop or to not linger. how quickly to proceed through various details, how much time to spend, etc.

There is always a psychoeducational time, where much of what is going on is explained and some theory is outlined. This might not be in the first session, but will happen early in the therapeutic relationship.

Further, depending upon the client’s intention for the therapy, it will be focusing on the area in their life that they would like to bring up.

The client’s activation and regulation will be tracked, learning to support authentic responses rather than to judge the responses the body has, as well as connecting to the body through a guided body scan while experiencing co-regulation are all examples of what to expect in a somatic session with this therapist. Always the elements of feeling heard, accepted and feeling safe is paramount.

2- Does Somatic experiencing© really work? Is Somatics legitimate?

I had the similar question when I began learning about somatic experiencing© 20 years ago. I would go to Victoria for Somatic experiencing© training and then return to the Okanagan where I knew of no one who was even aware of the somatic concept. I often would challenge the way it was presented and over and over I would find that the somatic approach offered through Somatic experiencing© was and is not only true but absolutely a much more effective way of viewing each scenario.

Be aware, just because the term somatics is used, does not mean the person using this term has had the 3 year training to become a Somatic Experiencing© Practitioner.

While looking at the Somatic Experiencing© process more closely, it becomes clear to me that human beings are much more complex than what meets the eye. For example, a simple belief such as “I am sabotaging my decisions” is woefully lacking in understanding the complex process of being human. That statement is also is incredibly judgemental when in reality we are needing self support and compassion in order to be able to rally the parts of us that we need. In order to fully begin to meet our needs, we need to more wholly respond to ourselves. This includes understanding all of the layers that have affected us to bring us to this one place.

While it is important to understand that specific past experiences affect us today, it is also important to not live back in the past, to not focus on what happened in the past to the exclusion of responding in the present. Many factors have brought us to the present moment and this is to be acknowledged and considered while not living our entire life in the past.

Some of these factors include:
Looking at our life: What was our experience when we were early in our development? What was our relationship with our primary caregivers as well as what was the environment around us as we were being developed? How were we socialized? Were our needs being met in a timely manner? What is our natural born disposition? What is our physiology? What is our heredity?

Recent research has found that the egg that formed you, was present in your parents body while they were being formed and affected by the experiences that they had, both positive and negative. Not only were parts of you present in your parents body but this actually goes back four generations. So what happened in your grandparents, your great grandparents, and your great great grandparents body will have affected the egg  that formed you. Therefore, not only your experiences in your own lifetime are significantly impacting your experience now, but also four generations back, affect you and how you view the world and deal with your life. Epigenetics is the study of one’s DNA and the environment one has been subjected to, as well as the environment ones ancestors has been subjected to, and the way the environment was actually changes the DNA.

Other considerations that affect us are our present conditions such as presently our physical health, the type of relationships we are in, or lacking, the amount of safety we are feeling, the experiences of grief and loss, the society we live in, and the way we are treated by society, the values we have ascribed to, the ranking we have in our family, the way we are responding to ourselves, to name just a few.

This is important if you truly want to understand the challenges that you are presently dealing with.

Somatic Experiencing© interventions, in my professional opinion, are by far the most effective way to fully help a person deal with their issues in the present moment while taking into consideration all of the past that has brought this person to this moment. Energy is lodged in the body based on past experiences and Somatic Experiencing© intervention acknowledges this energy and helps the person release the traumatic energy while connecting to that persons strong inner self, in the present moment.

Its time to put yourself first. To book an appointment or to answer more questions, contact Lois Hansen at Hansencounselling@gmail.com. There are limited spaces so book soon.

3- Can Somatic Experiencing© be done online?

Somatic Experiencing© absolutely can be done on line, over the phone or in person. The way it is offered depends on the comfort level of the client and the Somatic Experiencing© practitioner. Hansen Counselling offers Somatic Experiencing© online, in person or on the phone. 

4- Is Somatic Experiencing© covered by insurance?

Extended insurance coverage is based on each insurance company as well as the type of policy that the individual holds. My experience is that most insurance companies cover a “registered counsellor”. So it would be beneficial to look for a registered counsellor who is a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner.

5- Is psychotherapy covered in BC?

In B.C., extended health companies often cover psychotherapy under the term ”registered counsellor”. It is important to check with your extended health care provider, and your policy to see what is covered for you.

6- How much does therapy cost in BC? How much does psychotherapy cost?

“Therapy” is a very broad term, assuming the definition is psychotherapy or counselling, is offered at various rates often depend on the counsellor’s education, experience, etc, the common rate ranges from $100.00 – $250.00 per 50 minute session.

7- What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychotherapist?

A registered psychologist has earned a PhD in psychology through a university. A registered psychotherapist has earned a Masters degree in Psychology through a university. Typically, psychotherapists specialize their training on counselling and Psychologists may or may not be specialized in counselling.

8- How do I find a therapist in Kelowna or Vancouver?

Googling Somatic Experiencing© Practitioners is a good way to start. One could ask local counsellors if they know of a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner in the area. Also, going to Somatic Experiencing© practitioners website at: www.traumahealing.org and search for Somatic Experiencing© practitioners that are registered with that website. Further, one could go to Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association or BC Counsellors Association where counsellors with a masters degree are registered. 

9- How long does it take to become a somatic therapist?

In order to become a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner, one needs to take 3 years of training through the Somatic Experiencing© Trauma Institute. In order to be accepted to the Somatic Experiencing© training, the person usually needs to be a registered counsellor, or body worker, or something similar.

The title of a somatic therapist is not a protected title. A person could legally call themselves a somatic therapist after simply reading about counselling and spending as much as a weekend at somatic’s seminar.  So, it is important to ask what kind of somatic training the counsellor has received.

Hansen Counselling & Consulting offers a standard of excellence in Somatic Experiencing© and consulting. If you are interested in receiving therapy from a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner, contact Hansen Counselling and Consulting at Hansencounselling@gmail.com. There are limited spaces so contact sooner than later.

10- What is SE Counselling?

SE counselling is short for Somatic Experiencing© counselling. This is only available through a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner who has taken 3 years of somatic experiencing© training.

11- Is yoga a somatic therapy?

Although yoga is not Somatic Experiencing©, it is very compatible with Somatic Experiencing© and a possible way of supporting the Somatic Experiencing© therapy one is receiving. It is a somatic practise.

12- What is an example of a somatic treatment?

It is important to understand that the way the experience is applied is even more important than the actual somatic treatment. If a therapist is not trained in Somatic Experiencing© and applies a somatic type of treatment, it will land very differently to the client. So, it is not about what is done as much as the way it is done. An example of a somatic therapy might be something simple such as a body scan, or noticing where the body is responding when discussing a certain topic. One example might be client experiencing a shortness of breath or muscles around the shoulders feeling tighter when discussing a certain topic. A Somatic Experiencing© practitioner has tools to not only hold the space for the client when very big energy is accessed, also to assist the client in releasing the tightness of the muscle or shortness of breath or whatever shows up in the session. This training in containing high energy and in releasing these energies creates more of a sense of safety for the client and the client often feel less out of control when those energies surface.

13- Is EMDR the same as somatic therapy?

I believe that EMDR would be categorized as a somatic intervention. The training to become a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner is different to the training to do EMDR. Lois Hansen is trained in Somatic Experiencing©.

14- What is the difference between a therapist and a psycho-therapist?

A therapist could be short for a number of professions such as physical therapist, massage therapist, or psychotherapist, to name a few. A psychotherapist is someone who has the training to be a registered counsellor. Usually those with this title have a masters degree in counselling or psychotherapy. But not always. This is something to ask your chosen psychotherapist.

15- How much does psychotherapy usually cost?

Psychotherapy is administered by a registered counsellor or psychologist. This means someone who has a masters degree in psychology or a PhD in psychology. The cost ranges usually from $100.00 – $250.00 per 50 minute session.

16- Is a psychotherapist a real doctor?

The term real doctor is unclear so I will assume this term means a medical doctor. A medical doctor has studied medicine to become a medical doctor. A Psychotherapist has studied psychology, counselling, and human behaviour to become a psychotherapist.

17- What qualifications do you need to be a trauma therapist?

The term trauma therapist is not a protected title, so this term can legally be applied to anyone who has read about trauma. Therefore as a consumer it is important that you ask your chosen therapist about their credentials. For example what this title means to this therapist, what training they completed to become a trauma therapist.

18- What does a trauma therapist do?

As stated in the question above, the title: trauma therapist is not a protected title so any counsellor can add this to their title. It is important that you ask the therapist that you are considering what their credentials are and what kind of training they have undergone to earn the title trauma therapist.

19- How do I find a trauma informed therapist?

I would assume that all professionals who say they are counsellors are trauma informed. Being trauma informed usually includes some weekend trainings or possibly a week or two of training to help a professional working with someone who has trauma to not make the trauma worse and to perform specific tasks with the person who has trauma.

Being trauma informed is not the same as being specially trained to help a client deal with their trauma.

Being a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner is someone who has taken 3 years of training, beyond the training they have taken to be accepted to the training, to learn to assist the person with trauma to release the trauma energy.

20- What is a Somatic practitioner?

Once again, the term somatic practitioner is not a protected title so this could mean a continuum of skill levels.

Alternatively, a somatic Experiencing© practitioner is someone who has taken 3 years of training, a required number of hours in personal and professional sessions and has gone through specific training.

21- How much do Somatic Experiencing© practitioners make?

Once a professional has earned the Somatic Experiencing© practitioner designation, it does not mean there is a certain employment opportunity waiting for them. Depending upon the affiliation the professional has before they are Somatic Experiencing© practitioners, they will apply the Somatic Experiencing© practitioner knowledge in different ways.

For example, a massage therapist with a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner designation will apply their massage therapy treatment in a Somatic Experiencing© way. A physical therapist who has taken Somatic Experiencing© training will apply the Somatic Experiencing© knowledge to the physical therapy interventions. A counsellor who has taken Somatic Experiencing© will apply Somatic Experiencing© to the counselling. The counselor may work for a variety of institutions such as a not for-profit organization, a health center, or for themselves. To find out how much they make you would need to find out the place they are working for and what this place pays them.

22- What are somatic techniques?

Somatic techniques are typically techniques that are more body based than cognitive. It is difficult to explain what somatic techniques are, because even a somatic technique can be misapplied when it is applied in a cognitive way. So there is some time needed to help the client learn how to have a somatic lens in applying new interventions. It might be more clear to identify what somatic techniques are NOT somatic. They are not learning to try harder, not concentrating more or being harder on yourself. Somatic techniques include many examples, but they are not about what is done but how it is being done. Some examples might be connecting to one’s heart rate, noticing how one’s muscles respond, supporting one’s adrenal glands, to name a few.

23- How many Somatic Experiencing© practitioners are there?

Each year there are more Somatic Experiencing© practitioners being trained. Trainings are all across the world. Twenty years ago I was the only Somatic Experiencing© practitioner that I knew of in the Okanagan. Now I know of at least 10. I am excited about more and more Somatic Experiencing© practitioners being trained to effectively  assist people in becoming free from their trauma.

24- Is Somatic Experiencing© covered by insurance?

Somatic Experiencing© is not recognized by extended health insurance. Instead, coverage is offered under the designation that the Somatic Experiencing© practitioner had before earning the Somatic Experiencing© designation, for example, registered counselling, or massage therapy or physical therapy, etc.

25- What type of therapy is Somatic Experiencing©?

Categorizing therapies depends on the categorizer’s theoretical beliefs. In my professional opinion, Somatic Experiencing© is a somatic therapy. However, it also fits into numerous other categories.

26- What is IBP psychology?

IBP stands for integrative body psychotherapy. This psychotherapist is a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner and so can explain what Somatic Experiencing© therapy is.

27- What is body-based psychotherapy?

Body based psychotherapy is counselling based on bodily response not based on the traditional talk therapy. There are many ways to experience counselling without having to sit and talk about the difficulties that were in the past. Somatic Experiencing©, in my professional opinion, falls under the category of a body-based psychotherapy.

28- What does integrated therapy mean?

Integrated therapy stands for therapy that does not apply 1 theoretical basis of therapy but incorporates more than one style of therapy. In my experience, most therapists incorporate more than 1 style or theoretical approach in their counselling sessions.

29- What are the 4 types of talk therapies?

There more than 4 types of talk therapies. Behavioural therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic therapy, psychodynamic therapy, brief therapy, strength based therapy, holistic therapy, to name a few. And there are more types of therapies being developed

Lois Hansen continues to counsel locally in Kelowna, British Columbia. She offers face to face counselling as well as sessions on line and on the telephone. Hansen Counselling & Consulting offers a standard of excellence in Somatic Experiencing© and consulting. If you are interested in receiving therapy from a Somatic Experiencing© practitioner, contact Hansen Counselling and Consulting at Hansencounselling@gmail.com.

As we have limited capacity and are often booked solid, often months in advance, we can’t guarantee we’ll be able to help every client, but if you contact us right away we’ll do our best to fit you in as space opens up.