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What is Somatic Therapy in Dance?

Somatic Therapy is a healing method that links emotions with the body to access parts of the subconscious mind, which are stored in the cells of the body. It’s a feeling-based therapy and therefore helps to release old stories, traumas and energetic blockages from the body through movement, to allow more flow, growth and happiness in our lives.

Somatic Therapy recognizes that everything which happened in our life has been stored not only in the subconscious mind, but also in the cell tissue of the body and therefore left an emotional imprint in our system. Whatever has a memory in our mind, also has an energetic correspondence in the body.

While cognitive therapy works on healing the past by talking about it and finding new solutions to recurring problems through a change in behavior or a shift in perspective, somatic therapy works on healing the past by allowing feelings in the body related to these events to show up and be released. The body therefore becomes the guide, the therapist and the healer.


Through movement, dance and physical expression, emotions are set free and old imprints leave the system by bringing a shift on a deep psycho-physical level. In that way, otherwise ignored parts of the body become alive, contracted muscles become flexible again and stuck energy starts flowing freely.

Somatic therapy continues where cognitive therapy sometimes fails. When talking and reliving the past does not heal the trauma, it means there is still something stored in the cells that needs to find its way to freedom in a different way, which is physical movement!


The powerful healing of freeform dance and somatic therapy allows shifts, that were otherwise not possible. It´s the simple act of moving freely as needed in the moment, allowing the muscles to stretch and the energy to flow wherever it needs to flow, which allows for long held physical memories of past events to surface, integrate and heal. Especially when the mind goes on a break and has no words for what is surfacing, when the story that has been told for so long, is not being relived, and it´s only energy that starts to find new ways to express itself, that is room for magic, instant transformation and shifts which are bigger than the mind can comprehend.


Somatic Therapy is based on the nervous system. It stems from the research idea that nerve signals from the brain travel through the somatic nervous system in the spine into the body and therefore have a motoric physical reaction. That means when a memory, a feeling or an emotion is being triggered, it has a direct effect on the body and its physical reaction.

While we might not always be aware of the fact, that a memory makes our body either stiff, relaxed, loose or tight, it does show clearly that body, mind and energy are always linked together. The more we connect to the feelings in our body, the more we can observe the direct link between our thoughts, memories and emotions and how our body expresses its opinion to the same.

Somatic Therapy in Dance uses this information to its advantage, by allowing people to physically express their emotions and to choose the movement that helps them to either increase positive feelings or to release negative ones. When the energy in the body is being re-written, it also allows the information to travel back to the brain through the somatic nervous system so that the memory in the subconscious mind is being re-written, or completely released! What Osho invented years ago with his active meditations, to help people free themselves of anger, frustration, depression, guilt, shame and fear, is finding a new form of healing now in Somatic Therapy.


Dance in and off itself is always Somatic Therapy, as it produces endorphins, the feel good hormones, in the body and has an overall relaxing and uplifting effect on body, mind and spirit. However, Somatic Therapy in dance takes it a step further. Through simple guidance, prompts where to move, how to move, how to explore space, the body and emotions, what to try creatively and who to dance with, new pathways are being created and the dancer is taken on an inner and outer exploration of self. This creates a far greater mental-physical-emotional connection than any usual dance and opens the body up to fully express itself in all its glory!

The side effect often times is ecstatic feelings, greater clarity, physical wellbeing and balanced emotions. Some people even report having released long standing emotional blockages that could not be addressed in any other therapy!

Therapy does not always have to be years long. It also does not necessarily be accompanied by much talking, chewing up events that are long past or to try to find solutions in the head. It can be as simple as dance, feeling and enjoying!

written by Anna Sofia


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