Somatic Therapy is a Bottom Up Approach

Have you heard of ‘top down’ therapy and ‘bottom up’ therapy?

What’s the difference and why does it matter?!

Firstly, understand that, between the time you start developing in the womb and the time you are aged around 25, your brain is developing – and it does so in 3 stages:

Stage 1 : the brain stem (the survival / reptilian part of the brain) develops
Stage 2 : the limbic system (the emotional part of the brain) develops
Stage 3 : the cortex (the thinking part of the brain) develops

Talk therapy –
is a top down therapy approach. This typically targets the thinking part of your brain. This can be really effective, growing awareness of your thoughts and behaviour patterns can positively influence your emotional and somatic experience.

I am definitely not knocking talk therapy HOWEVER it has limitations when it comes to trauma – especially trauma from experiences which occurred prior to age 25. This is because trauma impacts the emotional and survival parts of your brain. So it makes sense that trying to utilize the rational, thinking part of your brain to heal it may not work.

Imagine an adult trying to convince a teenager he is good enough. If the teenager believes he is not good enough, telling him he is won’t feel true. The teenager needs to learn what it’s like to FEEL good enough. How? He needs to feel seen, heard, accepted. He needs to be provided with what he needed but didn’t receive at the time the belief took hold. This, is a bottom up approach.

Somatic therapy –
is a ‘bottom up’ therapy approach. It heals where we FEEL the pain, in the body, in the nervous system. We don’t forget the mind, we address the emotional and survival parts of the brain and create new neural pathways so you start to think differently, see yourself differently and see the world differently.

We can’t talk our way into healing trauma, we have to feel our way.

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