Bioenergetic Analysis

Bioenergetic Analysis is a relational, somatic – psychotherapy founded by Alexander Lowen, in 1956. Its premise is that there is no separation between mind and body. Therefore, it is a holistic approach to healing the physical, mental, and emotional issues that encompass addiction. Recent neuroscience research validates the significance of working with the body in psychotherapy, particularly for the repair of relational and/or shock trauma. Sustainable recovery necessitates that underlying traumatic issues are resolved.

During therapy somatic techniques are used to improve the client’s self-perception, self-expression, and self-possession as well as to work through chronic muscular tensions which, are indications of somatic and psychological defenses against past trauma(s). The goal of therapy is more than the absence of symptoms; it is to promote the vitality of one’s mind, body and spirit demonstrated by a deep love of life, self, and others.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is a trauma treatment therapy that helps clients release the traumatic stress symptoms that are keeping them “stuck” in the events of the past. These symptoms are often the underlying reason the clients are seeking to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, and/or prescription pills, as well as the cause of the co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and eating disorders.

This technique addresses the root causes of the symptoms and guides the clients gently into releasing the emotional and energetic wounds that have been held in the body due to traumatic shock or long-term chronic trauma. Many people are stuck in the primal fight-flight-freeze state due to traumatic experiences such as car accidents, violent crime, long-term emotional or physical abuse, sexual abuse or assault, and other experiences that created the ongoing symptoms of unresolved trauma.

Somatic therapy works to help the clients develop increased tolerance to the suppressed emotional energy that is trapped in the body due to the flight-flight-freeze response which has not been allowed to complete and release. This can be done without having to retell and therefore relive the experience. Somatic therapy works to help the client pass through the experience completely so that they no longer experience the symptoms of hypo arousal, dysregulation and shutdown that often happen when something stimulates the unresolved trauma memory.

Somatic therapy recognizes that a person amid disassociation is not available for “talk therapy” because they are disconnected from their body and emotions. Using the Somatic therapy technique, the therapist works to help the client stay present in their body and release the previously un-discharged energy that has been trapped in the body and brain due the unfinished trauma response.


What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic Therapy refers to a type of body-based psychotherapy that heals the way mind and body interact, starting with the body and working upwards to thoughts and feelings. The intricate connections between mind and body are explored to unlock old patterns of suffering and open up pathways to mental-emotional wellbeing.

Somatic Therapy honors the important role of the body in human experience, as the basic container space, the physical location within which we experience our lifestream unfolding in the here and now. 

Somatic Therapy works by assisting a person to develop mindful awareness of what is taking place inside the body and to make the cognitive connection between those cues and one’s psychological suffering and happiness. Symptoms like pain in the body, changes in energy, and subtle physiological cues that indicate a trigger response is underway are taken as an entry point into healing psychological troubles.  

Somatic Therapy is especially effective for working with trauma. That’s because of the ways that traumatic memories are stored in the body and brain. Traumatic memories can be hard to change with talk therapy alone, because of the role of the body and its processes. 

Talk therapy will generally focus on how perceptions and deep beliefs create one’s behavior and emotions. Somatic Therapy starts from the other end with the body itself, taking the lens that thoughts, feelings and behavior are largely driven by body states of danger or safety. By this logic, people with a lot of deep negative beliefs have them in the first place because of the body being in a state of chronic over-arousal (fight-flight-freeze-appease), and people who feel happy most of the time are generally in body states of safety and regulation. 

Somatic Therapy works to help people change the ways that core beliefs are stored as physiological and neurological patterns in the body.

There are many ways to intervene in a problem and create a solution. Somatic Therapy is effective at helping people experience what safety and regulation feels like from within, and how the body creates that experience for them through heart rate, breath patterning, and muscle tension. 

Recognizing how the body creates these experiences, one can gradually learn to create different experiences through consciously inducing changes in the body state. This helps a person learn how to break the spell of disempowerment that goes with trauma; people recover agency as they learn to choose to create states of safety for themselves. 

Somatic Therapy for Addiction

Somatic Therapy is very effective for addiction because of the high correlation between addiction and trauma. Most people who end up self-medicating are medicating states of being that are felt in the body as extreme discomfort. Suffering in the psyche and soul is experienced in the body in specific ways. By changing the body experience, particularly by releasing old trauma patterning out of the body, one can experience well-being without chemicals. 

Somatic Therapy will not work while still using chemicals, so sobriety is a requirement. However, Somatic Therapy works very well together with treatment for addiction once sobriety has been stabilized and all mood-altering chemicals have exited the body.

In early stages of sobriety, Somatic Therapy can help to ease states of discomfort. Many Somatic Therapy tools, which focus on noticing pleasant states in the body, applying self-soothing postures and breath patterns, grounding and centering, and what’s called resourcing, bring relief during the states of suffering that accompany immediate withdrawal and the more longer-term mental-emotional withdrawal phases. 

Overall Somatic Therapy will help women with addiction by reconnecting them with their bodies, which is the starting point of being able to transform and release trauma. Connecting with the body is especially challenging for those who have experienced violence, sexual abuse, or other forms of trauma, which many women with addiction have. 

Somatic Therapy helps women with addiction to shift body states of dis-regulation, such as panic, helplessness, rage, and abandonment feelings, into better feeling states, like capability, self-connection, and confidence. It does this by bringing awareness to what happens in the body when we are triggered, as well as how our thoughts and behaviors loop us into negative cycles, and showing us patterns and pathways for generating different experiences. 

Somatic Therapy teaches women with addiction how to integrate their experiences, thereby balancing them into wholeness, in part through a technique called pendulation. Through gently guiding awareness back and forth between different sensations and states, pendulation teaches the recovering person how to recognize and anchor in states of calm and wellbeing. Learning this technique helps women move forward more confidently into a life without mood-altering chemicals. 

Through creating greater awareness of where trauma is stored in the body, Somatic Therapy helps women with addiction learn to change deep, old patterns and to experience something else, where life feels like more of a choice than something happening to us.  

The benefits of Somatic Therapy

Somatic Therapy offers many benefits. These benefits all stem from the core promise that Somatic Therapy will teach you how to feel better in the body first. 

Positive Mindset

Even though Somatic Therapy works with the body, it has the effect of creating more positive mindsets. That’s because happy thoughts are accompanied by a happy body – when one learns to gently create better states of being in the body, one’s outlook changes for the better. Similarly, through practices of body awareness, one will get better at changing thoughts in useful ways, that really make the body feel safer and better in the now. Somatic Therapy is the missing link for making positive thinking practices like affirmations really impactful in one’s experience of life. 

More Energy

Somatic Therapy changes the brain-body wiring from survival-orientation, which is exhausting to the body, to states of self-regeneration that are best for immune system and conservation of one’s own energies. Until we experience feeling safe and regulated, many of those of us with trauma don’t realize how much energy it takes to live in a way that we are always prepared for danger. Somatic Therapy teaches us to get a hold of our body state, which will help keep us in fit condition at all levels of our being.

Emotional Balance

Somatic Therapy has been shown to help reset neural pathways. Our habits exist as worn grooves in our brain and nervous system’s most typical patterns. However the brain is enormously plastic – pathways can be changed at any time and we can always learn new ways of being. Through Somatic Therapy we learn to change the patterns that go along with negative thoughts and feelings, and start anchoring in the patterns of feeling at peace. We no longer have to live at the mercy of intense feelings and mood swings.

Feel Better All Around

Somatic Therapy reduces physical and psychological discomfort. Chronic body states of strain, pain, and stress are released over time, as are uncomfortable psychological states like agitation, irritability, anxiety, and being on edge. Mental benefits include better concentration and focus, as well as increased confidence and hope as one starts to have different experiences in the world. Increased confidence and hope lead to opening one’s world up to developing new hobbies, career goals, and experiencing more loving relationships. 

Life Purpose and Direction

Somatic Therapy improves self-awareness in general, as we become more known to ourselves through looking inward to understand why we behave the way that we do, and why we feel how we feel at any given moment. We can also start to understand our life story and make meaning out of our experiences through this greater awareness.

Better Self-Care and Self-Love

Through Somatic Therapy we learn to listen attentively to what the body is telling us, and we learn to speak its language to more effectively give love, affection, and meet needs of our own being. When we care for the signals of the body, notice them and respond to them proactively instead of running on autopilot or staying disconnected from the body, we will practice better self-care. 

Greater Emotional Awareness

Somatic Therapy coaches us in awareness of emotions, and the ways that we may somatize, or turn negative emotions into physical pain or symptoms. Much of what we experience as purely physical pain, such as headaches, fatigue, or stomach problems, are actually unprocessed emotional energies relating to nervous-system arousal that needs to be released. Our emotional awareness, therefore, improves through the practices taught by Somatic Therapy.

Improved Relationships

When we learn to listen to our own bodies, we increase in empathy and boundaries at the same time. Our relationships improve through this combination of awareness of ourselves, plus greater ability to respond effectively to others.


Perhaps the greatest gift of Somatic Therapy is to change one’s experience of oneself from a self-concept of being fragile and powerless, doomed to our reactions to life circumstances we cannot effectively control, into a self-concept of resilience. 

As we experience in real time how we can allow ourselves to get over negative events, through guiding the body to release the overactivated state out of the body systems, we start to have a different outlook on life, one in which we have more possibilities and options. Believing oneself to be able to recover from setbacks is an entirely different experience than feeling disempowered and afraid of what kinds of emotions the world may cause us to feel. We don’t have to be as afraid of the world. 

Common misconceptions about Somatic Therapy

There are three common misconceptions about Somatic Therapy. 

One misconception is that it is a form of body work only (not psychology). There are many different branches of Somatic Therapy, and some of them do involve some element of touch, or hands-on work by the therapist. However, Somatic Therapy is not the same thing as massage, nor is it the same as other forms of purely body-based work. The key difference with Somatic Therapy is that it is a type of psychotherapy in which conscious processing of psychological material – memories, thoughts, feelings, traumas and so on – will take place, it’s just that body awareness is used as a way in to that material. 

Another misconception about Somatic Therapy is that it is less scientific than other forms of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is not true, and reflects our culture’s bias in favor of the thinking mind over the body itself. On the contrary, Somatic Therapy is a very practical, results-oriented methodology that works well to help people who struggle with burdens such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, eating disorders, addictions, and anxiety. 

Helping a suffering person to successfully and safely bring awareness back to their body, gradually reprogramming the body to release trauma energies hidden deep inside subconscious operations of the nervous system, has been shown to help significantly with many psychological issues and life struggles.

Finally, a third misconception about Somatic Therapy is that it is used only for emotional topics, and that it cannot help with physical pain. However, because of the complexity of interactions between psyche and soma, Somatic Therapy treats all physical manifestations and symptoms, including those that might normally be thought of as a physical rather than trauma-created illness, as the truth is these also relate to the ways in which vitality may be restricted from circulating in beneficial ways. 

While not replacing the role of medicine, Somatic Therapy assists body in immunity and other vital functions through helping a sufferer make changes to trauma-related patterning, habits such as chronically shallow breathing, constricted musculature and posture, digestive and sleep problems, and more.

Somatic Therapy options

Somatic Therapy is offered at Villa Kali Ma as a part of our addictions treatment program. You will have multiple options for working with the ways that your body and mind connect to create your recovery in a way that feels good and right to you. 

Somatic Therapy is also offered by practitioners in the community, so you can undergo an ongoing path of treatment after completion of intensive addiction treatment as well.  

In general what you can expect from someone offering Somatic Therapy is that they will combine talking, mindfulness techniques and practices, and exercises that move the body into different breathing patterns and postures. A Somatic Therapist will help you stay connected to pleasant, positive feelings in your body, then guide you when the time is right to allow some recall of traumatic experiences, memories, and feelings, so that you can process these safely in the now moment, permitting these to at last be released. This process itself will teach you the basic methodology and habits for ongoing mindfulness, peaceful states, and dissolving painful emotions in the future.   

Your Somatic Therapist may coach you in deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation exercises, as well as specific tools designed to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, emotional pain, or being caught in a trigger spiral. You may experience some strong emotions and physical sensations during the session itself, but you will gradually be guided to have the experience that it is safe and unproblematic to feel, acknowledge, and let go of your painful feelings.  

When looking for a Somatic Therapist, look for a person with expertise and experience, but also choose based on who feels safe and trustworthy to you, someone you sense in your intuition and gut would be a good person to work with. Feel free to ask many questions and to shop around when choosing a therapist (in general), as it is important with any psychotherapy work to find a good fit, where you sense that you will be able to share your vulnerabilities with this person over time. 

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This place completely changed my life. I needed a drastic change from the typical recovery environment in order to stay sober long-term. I can honestly say that I love who I am today and I am forever grateful for Villa Kali Ma!


I am so grateful I found Villa Kali Ma, it has truly changed my life. Kay is awesome and the entire team who works there is absolutely amazing. If you need treatment, I highly recommend making this the start to your recovery.


Villa Kali Ma is an in-network provider with Anthem BCBS, Multiplan, First Health, and an authorized
out-of-network provider with TRICARE accepting most PPO plans or out-of-network benefits.
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