alison reeves somatic coach

Somatic Coach – What Is Somatic Coaching

Have you heard of a somatic coach, and are wondering what somatic coaching is?

In this post I’ll cover what somatics is, the definition of a somatic coach, and what happens during somatic coaching.

What is somatics?

The word “somatic” refers to the body. Somatic coaching helps people gain insight by looking at both 1) tuning into and tracking their physical sensations and 2) emotions, perceptions and experiences. Somatics is a term used in therapeutic work that involves the body. The word “somatic” indicates that the approach is based on the soma, or “the body as perceived from within”.

Somatic techniques may be used in coaching, therapy, bodywork, psychotherapy, dance, or spiritual practices.

The goal of any work including somatics involves gaining insight and clarity while tapping into your internal experience – how you emotionally feel – with your external experience – how you physically feel.

Involving the body in healing and mindset modalities often leads to much deeper and faster insights. The body holds immense wisdom outside of the mind because of its connection to your nervous system.

Examples: Lifelong anxiety gone in one session. Emotional releases in one session that didn’t happen in years of therapy. Immediate mindset shifts that aren’t possible when you only focus on the mind

Why dos somatic work have the potential for this unique healing and/or progress?

One reason is because of the tie with the nervous system. The ventral vagus nerve communicates from the body to the brain, and from the brain to the body. And get this: 80% of the ventral vagal nerve fibers send information from the body to the brain\ and only 20% of its fibers send information from the brain to the body.

(Read more: Trauma Effects on Mindset)

What is a Somatic Coach?

So what is a somatic coach, and what does a somatic coach do?

The body often knows things our brain is slower to process, and connecting with a somatic coach can speed up the process of extracting that wisdom. A somatic coach guides clients in tuning into their body to extract wisdom, messages or memories that exist.

What does a somatic coach do?

When coaching from a somatic perspective, coaches prioritize putting attention towards the body and what the body feels. In today’s fast paced world, we often pride ourselves on ignoring things we feel in the body. We get pat on the back for being strong and carrying on no matter what.

But your body usually responds to external signals before your mind does – plugging in to what is happening around you and inside you before the brain does.

For example, ever felt that sinking feeling in your stomach? That’s your body’s intuition to pay attention to something that feels uneasy, and get your brain to figure out what is going on and what to do.

What happens in a somatic coaching session?

What happens in a somatic coaching session is determined by the type of coach or session you’re looking for, your goal for the session, and your level of comfort and feeling of safety.

But an emerging and popular type of somatic coaching style involves life coaching utilizing somatics. This makes sense, since somatic work can often help untangle limiting beliefs, the root of stressors, and more.

In coaching, a general flow for a somatic session includes…

  • A short grounding exercise to step into the present and soften the mind
  • Setting your intention or goal for the session
  • Determining what needs to happen first in order for that intention to be accomplished

Depending on your intention, the flow of the coaching session can go many ways. But some possibilities include…

  • Finding where you feel most activated in your body, and using different exercises to extract wisdom
  • Using breath, movement, or sound to release energy or move stuck energy
  • Using frameworks to help you combine your body and mind in thinking through a habit (for example, working backwards from results you’re getting to determine the beliefs that led you there, so we can start re-writing beliefs)
  • Inner child work, meditation, visualization, emotional resourcing
  • And more

And again: the exercises used to reach your goal for the session can vary widely, and are completely driven by you. When first starting out with somatic coaching, listening to your body might feel inaccessible or uncomfortable, and that’s ok.

A trauma informed somatic coach meets you where you are at!

Examples of Somatic Sessions

I thought it might be helpful here to explain a few real live examples from clients, where information was general enough to be non-identifying for the client.

Here are some examples of how a somatic session can go:

Anxiety Around Money

In a recent session, I met with a client who had growing panic that would wake them up at night, about money. They knew it really wasn’t about money, and had tried many tools with some success, but the anxiety was still growing.

When we started tracking the sensation in the body, we eventually came upon a fearful memory from age 5, where safety and reassurance was needed.

The client was able to become proactive on finding safety, and learn what safety feels like.

Moving Stuck Energy

In a recent session, I met with a client who is going through an end of a relationship they initiated. Even though it was their decision, it was still very painful and this client was struggling to release the opinions of others (which would lead this client to be able to think more clearly for themselves).

When we started tracking the sensation in the body, it became clear that there was stuck energy in the body, preventing this person from using their voice, so we used a tool to release stuck energy.

The client was able to step into an extremely powerful and free version of themselves, which helped them use their voice.

Clearing Long Term Anxiety Instantly

In a recent session, a client was struggling with intense anxiety before going to work every night – to the point where it could take up to two hours just to get started, exacerbating the issue.

When we started tracking the sensation in the body, it first led us to a teen experience. And when we tracked that feeling, we were led to an experience at the age of 7. We spent time with the 7 year old. Then, coming back to the present, we practiced going back and forth between the anxious feeling, and the new feeling the client wanted to have. The anxiety went from feeling like a big black hole, to a tiny pebble.

The client’s long term anxiety dissolved in one session.

Prioritize Self Care

In a recent session, a client wanted to find ways to stay grounded in taking care of themselves. This client is going through a lot, so there were many, many physical sensations in the body that wanted attention. We made space for all of it, and also got clear on what needed the most attention.

A lot of grief and sadness came up, which we got to witness and nurture. This turned out to be what the client really needed and had never had before: permission to feel. She immediately felt immense relief, and a proactive desire for the client to practice holding themselves (or finding ways to feel held) as a regular self care practice.

The client reconnected to gratitude for their own existence.

Why I’m Avoiding Affection

In a recent session, a client was avoiding their partner. Because they loved their partner, they wanted to know what might be at the root of this, so they could see how they could meet their partner while getting their own needs met.

When we started tracking this, we eventually came to a very young version of the client, and a repeated interaction they had that caused them to be uncomfortable with even benign affection. We were able to help this client identify what they needed, and also find a way to communicate to their partner that they needed space in order to feel safe, while also learning more about the partner’s needs.

The client learned the source of their resistance.

What happens at the end of a somatic session?

At the end of a somatic session, I save time for discussion and any suggested action items for the client. I love asking how clients feel, what questions they have, and what they experienced. Then, I ask if it’s ok if I reflect back to them any of my own observations. I lastly mention anything they said that I want to make sure they remember.

I love suggesting action items, because I personally like having action items for myself when I’m a client. This helps me feel like i’m integrating what we just worked on, and could be journaling, setting boundaries, meditation, visualization, business planning, or more.

Some optional homework and action item ideas include:

  • adding a new daily affirmation
  • journaling
  • go shopping for something special
  • optimizing their work schedule for their creativity

Book a Somatic Coaching Session

Interested in booking a somatic coaching session to get unstuck in an area of your life?

Go here to learn more and book a session.


Photo: WorkplayBranding

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