Co-regulation As Means Toward Embodiment and Healing
In the practice of Somatic Psychology, the ultimate healing function is in the relational bond and limbic resonance between self and other. This translates to relationships outside of therapy, allowing the patient to find and keep empathically attuned relationships/secure attachments.
The most common reason for seeking therapy is missing the emotional support in ones life. All mammals need limbic resonance to help them navigate through the stresses of life. Unfortunately, our species is the only one where co-regulation of emotions may not necessarily occur.
When acute and chronic states of stress go unregulated, disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addiction develop.
In a nutshell, the co-regulation of feelings-a somatic phenomenon-is the quintessence of what returns our body, mind and spirit to homeostasis.
This might sound simple-and it is- but it is certainly not easy.
Trauma Resolution And Animal Behavior
Due to the instinct injuries we have incurred as a species, we have literally been conditioned out of our most fundamental mammalian traits and proclivities. Therefore, we need the guidance and modeling from the animal kingdom.
The somatic modality in the treatment of trauma has a history of looking to animal behavior to ascertain methods of acute stress resolution. In the groundbreaking book, “Waking the Tiger”, Peter Levine studied the survival adaptations of animals of prey to aid humans in trauma resolution. This entails the discharge of incomplete survival instincts from the autonomic nervous system.
As the field has expanded, somatic modalities have also been applied to the healing of insecure attachment as well. Here we find that sympathetic charge in the nervous system doesn’t have to be discharged, but regulated.
Regulating Emotions And Survival
The beauty of this model is that mammals are our greatest allies in modeling this endeavor. For them, not only are emotions both the warp and weft of bond, but also tools for survival. The use of emotions to aid in adaption to life in the wild, came along when mammals hit the scene millions of years ago. This being the case, one can see how emotional attunement is a key to neurological/physical health. Regulated emotions equates to an animal that is well-equipped to survive in the wild. Somatic psychology embraces our mammalian capacity to negotiate and adapt to everything from daily stress to great peril. Although we mostly live in captivity, it is literally only natural to rely on this millions-of-years-old, field-tested ability.