Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) was developed by Pat Ogden, Ph.D. and Kekuni Minton, Ph.D in the 1970s. It is a body centred psychotherapy that uses interventions at a body focused level (sensorimotor) as the primary entry point in processing trauma rather than at the conscious goal-oriented, thinking and behavioural level. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy aims to resolve the limitations of behaviour, thinking and feeling caused by trauma.
Talk therapy is beneficial and useful in many ways but with trauma therapy can only take you so far. Your body is like a vessel that stores all your trauma and the body remembers it all, even what is outside of your conscious awareness.
While it is important to have cognitive awareness of what happens to you because of trauma, trauma occurs in the body first and therefore the physiological (body) responses need to be attended to and resolved to effectively heal. You may develop amazing awareness around your trauma symptoms and yet when you are retriggered the response will happen in your body first. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is therefore highly effective in the treatment of trauma.
SP is a method that integrates sensorimotor (body) processing with cognitive (thinking) and emotional (feeling) processing in the treatment of trauma. The integration of all three levels of processing is essential for recovery to occur.
SP directly treats the effects of trauma on the body, which in turn facilitates emotional and cognitive processing. This method is especially beneficial for clients with issues of dissociation, who react strongly on an emotional level, feel depressed, unmotivated and flat, feel frozen in their emotions or reach highly agitated states quickly and often.
SP can also help with PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive images, sounds, smells, body sensations, physical pain, constriction, numbing and hyperarousal.
SP is a very gentle form of therapy and is therefore especially effective for survivors of childhood trauma. It is also helpful in treating people who:
- Have suffered neglect, physical, sexual and psychological abuse;
- Keep repeating abusive patterns in their relationships;
- Those struggling with depression or have a history of depression;
- Are battling addictions;
- Constantly hide and repress their feelings;
- Feel shutdown, powerless and helpless.
- Have lost the ability or never had the ability to find language for their experiences.
“Only one therapy I know of reaches as deeply into the body as it does into the mind, and by reaching for both, touches the soul.”
-Ron Kurtz, Founder of the Hakomi Method, on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy