Somatic experiencing therapy helps regulate emotions.
In season 2, episode 2 (part 2) of the Shifting Our Shit (S.O.S) podcast, therapist Britt Riddle,
D.Min., MAMFT shares her personal experience with somatic experiencing therapy. She
explains that as a competitive gymnast as a child, she was very in tune with her body, but after
experiencing trauma as a teenager, she lost her connection with her body and the wisdom it held.
Somatic experiencing therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can get trapped or
frozen in our bodies, which can keep us from fully processing a traumatic experience, leading to
dysregulation in our nervous systems. Somatic experiencing therapy invites awareness and
expression of physical sensations and movement associated with the trauma in order to release
“frozen” energy—this might look like screaming in a safe environment like a parked car or
letting tears freely flow rather than trying to block them.
Britt also incorporates somatic work into her practice of therapy, particularly when working with
individuals in helping professions who often have to suppress their own emotions in order to be
“on” for other people, which over time, can lead to a build-up of stress.
Pay attention to your body.
Many of us go through life without paying much attention to the physical sensations and signals
that our bodies are sending us. This lack of awareness can lead to a variety of problems,
including difficulty managing emotions, chronic stress, and even physical health issues.
Britt discusses how holding our breath during times of stress can contribute to feelings of panic
and dysregulation. By practicing breath work, we can create a muscle memory of deep and
regulated breathing. This can help us stay grounded and calm during moments of heightened
emotions or stress.
Britt also talks about the importance of grounding practices, such as intentionally noticing your
feet on the floor (or ground) in order to feel connected to the earth. Mindfulness does not have to
require a huge time commitment, but can be incorporated into daily life—taking a few moments
at a red light to focus on your breath or noticing sensations happening in your body. These
mindfulness practices can create a greater sense of emotional awareness and nervous system
Grounding is important for self-care.
Grounding is an important aspect of managing personal energy and practicing self-care. Megan,
a Reiki master, discusses how our energy is often concentrated in the upper chakras (the mind),
causing us to feel disconnected from our bodies and the present moment. The shift this, Megan
suggests the practice of grounding, which brings the energy down through the body and into the
feet, creating a sense of connection and presence. This can be done through practices such as
stomping your feet or wiggling your toes.
Grounding can also be done with our thoughts. By consciously naming the experience of being
grounded, we can create a pause in our thoughts and bring ourselves to the present moment. This
pause allows for a deeper sense of awareness and a break from the constant stream of thoughts
and distractions that put us into autopilot mode.
Britt is an expert in working with clients who want to increase self-care and decrease compassion
fatigue and burnout. Her calm and grounded presence is appreciated by those who have worked
with her, and she personally understands the challenges faced by individuals in helping
professions. Her approach to therapy emphasizes the importance of grounding, mindfulness, and
body awareness to help clients maintain nervous system regulation, which can lead to healthier
and more fulfilling lives.