How a Spiritual Director Can Facilitate Somatic Healing
Somatic healing is an umbrella term for any kind of therapy that focuses on the body. Also known as "bodywork," somatic healing includes massage therapy, EMDR, yoga, physical therapy, somatic experiencing, and more. Spiritual directors can also practice somatic healing. Somatic healing is foundational in our approach to spiritual direction at Fratres Dei.
How Does a Spiritual Director Facilitate Somatic Healing?
Let's start with what a somatic spiritual director is not. While some spiritual directors are licensed mental health counselors, not all are. While spiritual direction-based somatic healing is centered on the body, a spiritual director will not perform any body-based treatment for mental illness. Your spiritual health certainly affects your mental health, but spiritual direction cannot be a one stop shop for those seeking to manage mental illness.
Here's what a somatic spiritual director is. Spiritual direction seeks to serve the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, by helping the directee cultivate their spirituality. The goal of spirituality is to find meaning and cohesion all areas of life, and that includes the body. In order to have a healthy spiritual life, you have to consider the body.
Here's how it works.
The spiritual director will gently guide you through a series of prompts to center yourself comfortably in your body. They will then facilitate an open, safe dialogue between your mind and body.
Depending on what has brought you to the session, you will either start with the cognitive (mental) and flow to the somatic (bodily), or vise-versa.
Questions frequently addressed by Mind → Body sessions include but are not limited to:
What do I truly believe?
What toxic beliefs do I hold?
What is my next step in life?
Where is the Divine?
Matters frequently addressed by Body → Mind sessions include but are not limited to:
Feelings of Disconnection from Body / Dissociation
What are the benefits of meeting with a Somatic Spiritual Director?
The results of meeting with a somatic spiritual director are as varied as there are people on the planet. At the end of every session almost every directee says "I feel. So. Relaxed." However, feeling relaxed is just icing on the cake. Sometimes the somatic spiritual direction session can serve as a fact-finding mission to see what you truly believe or want—and not just what you think you should believe or want. Here are more potential outcomes of meeting with a somatic spiritual director:
Clarity in decision-making
Increased comfortability in your own body
Improved understanding of your behaviors and feelings
Increased Sexual Wellbeing
Loss of unhealthy beliefs
Increased Connection to the Divine
Here's what others have said about meeting with a somatic spiritual director:
"I had the pleasure of experiencing one of Rachels' body discernment sessions. She led me through deep sense of body awareness and acceptance that put my mind at ease and allowed me to connect with what my body had to say. I don't think I realized how disconnected I was from my own body, my own self, until I was in my session with her. Rachel has such a gift for helping her clients relax and let go of self-criticism. I left the session feeling much more in touch with my body and what it wanted to express to both the Divine and to me." -Sarah R.
"I have a tendency as part of who I am to get very wrapped up in my brain. Having someone who could help me work my [ministry] discernment process through not only what's going on in my head but also through my emotions and body was really beneficial for me." -Brian W.
Schedule a free, no-commitment consultation today to see if somatic spiritual direction is right for you. Video chat and telephone sessions are available.