Feeling Our Way Back from Trauma


Photo by Nicholas Scarpinato of a man floating in air
Photo by: Nicholas Scarpinato

What the Somatic???

INSIDE what we describe as Somatic-Narrative Therapeutic approach, trauma-informed experiences can find preferred locations of refuge and new horizons of discovery for the transformation of internal strife and relational distress. As we learn the value of listening to what our bodies have to say, we find our way towards a more integrated somatic experience, and we deepen our relationship to our body wisdom, strengthening our ‘intuition’ and nervous system regulation. I liken this somatic listening – to what we might be able to acknowledge as an experience with nature or with art (a poem, a piece of music.. a painting..). When we pause and listen closely, beyond the restrictions of a rigid view – new understandings and meaning can be found and it is here that we might access relief or even inspiration – and with it, the possibility of ‘more to the story’, beyond how our old trauma might be dictating our experience.

Meaningful images, body movements and metaphors can appear and offer helpful information to guide our experience away from a hijacked nervous system (and all the somatic distress that can come with that), towards a ‘reclamation journey’ of preferred experience. This reclamation journey might reveal an escape route from the captivity of a trauma experience and a more integrated and regulated felt experience and daily life. A journey away from the confinement of the body being held hostage in a ‘trauma occupied territory’, can offer a sweet relief of the symptoms, and can be empowering and even delightful, as we so often witness together in the therapy room. And for us politically inclined folk – it can invite a clarity to support our values and efforts towards investing in justice and freedom – which can be mighty affirming, to say the least.

Meaningful images, body movements and metaphors can appear and offer helpful information to guide our experience away from a hijacked nervous system towards a ‘reclamation journey’ of preferred experience.

How Does the Theory Translate?

Somatic-Narrative therapeutic conversations invite externalization and deconstruction of the influences at play (past and present) and the body’s knowledge, expression and resistance of this information. As we discover more to the story and acknowledge our somatic felt experiences, we loosen the trauma story’s rigidity and that which may be contributing to an internalization of some negative trauma identity(ies) (eg: I am broken,.. a disappointment or failure,.. lost or stuck,.. a loser,.. a disorder, etc..).

SOMATIC JOURNALING1 (See worksheet) can be a powerful conduit for co-researching what are bodies might have to say when we are listening and invites a deepening of our relationship to a more integrated experience of mind and body – and it all starts by supporting the feelings to be.. to be included…, and to be heard. Somatic Journaling offers opportunity to co-research that which supports and that which obstructs connection with feeling and ultimately, a body coherence2 as feeling is our way back from trauma and toward our preferred present and future.

Download tapping worksheet

Whatever the response is to the trauma talking stories, the stressors of daily life, and the associated nervous system disturbances – our ideas, energy and vision beyond the distress, can become overshadowed, and over time like an old friend if ignored, can become forgotten (until we give it the right kind of acknowledgment and attention to ‘re-member’ 3 it). Our somatic experience benefits from acknowledgement and attention, and as we invite back the possibility of a relationship with our bodies, we resist the occupation. Much of trauma healing/preferred experience reclamation is supported by the nervous system become more “re-membered/resilient”

Hello Body Practice is all about honoring more to the story, remembering the important relationship we can have with our internal world, and giving our somatic world recognition of its prowess – and that ride can be an empowering one.

1. Somatic Journaling refers to something I stumbled upon with my clients and have given shape to in exercise scripts such as the Somatic-Narrative adapted tapping exercise. The objectives of such exercises, are in support of getting to know better the problem story(ies) at work, and the somatic felt-experiences of such stories, and most importantly – the counter stories – perhaps subjectified but ever present. The therapeutic value informing these exercises can be found in somatic experiencing regulation objectives and narrative deconstruction/externalization.

2. Body Coherence at HNCounselling, describes getting to know what supports a regulated nervous system and what might discourage or override it, which allows for intuitive responses and an honoring/integration of the wisdoms of our somatic experience to inform our choices and actions.

3. The concept of ‘re-membering’ is drawn from the work of anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff (1978, 1982, 1986). See: https://rememberingpractices.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/subjunctive.pdf

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