top of page
trauma recovery

What does a session looks like?


Trauma processing through DBR involves:

1) identifying the pre-affective shock in a traumatic memory

2) guided groundinexercise to support intentional connection with the body

3) focusing on “orienting tension” arising in the muscles of the shoulders, neck, head and face 

4) deepening the awareness of each sensation and emotion that comes up

5) reflecting on and talking through the outcome of the session

Somatic Trauma Therapy

What is Somatic Therapy?


Somatic Trauma Therapy works to process and release trauma that is stored in the body by accessing the implicit and nonverbal memories (many trauma survivors have difficulty expressing their experiences in words) as well as the sensations associated with the traumatic experience.
Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR) is a type of somatic therapy that is rooted in grounding, offering a gentler mode of getting into the trauma work while also reducing the risk of emotional overwhelm and dissociation.

Deep Brain Reorienting is similar to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in that it allows the body to process through trauma. For many people with attachment trauma, the use of a safe container in EMDR may not be enough to stay grounded - DBR therapy was developed by Trauma Specialist and  Neuroscientist Frank Corrigan, to better support clients in staying grounded and avoiding dissociation throughout the process of trauma therapy.

How does Somatic Therapy work?

When clients experience trauma, their body may rapidly register an initial shock response from the threat of the experience. That shock becomes stored in the body, and if it’s not effectively processed, it will continue to cause unexplained symptoms and an inability to fully process the emotions of the traumatic memory. This can result in the experience of feeling unable to shift a belief or behaviour despite cognitively knowing it – for example “I know I’m safe but I don’t feel safe”

Over the course of the session, you will be guided to sit with, and deepen the awareness of each sensation and emotion. This allows the motor end plate and neural networks to be expressed in a way that was not possible when they were entrapped within the deep and superficial brainstem structures.

The approach allows the participant to process the shock as well as the traumatic memory in an emotionally manageable way, changing how it is represented/accessed in the brain’s innate defensive system (fight / flight / freeze). In other words, a bottom-up integration of the traumatic memory has occurred, allowing the body to catch up with the cognitive understanding.

More information

For more information, visit the Deep Brain Orienting website, or learn more from a recent study on DBR.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Somatic therapy or DBR only good for trauma?

Somatic therapy and DBR therapy are safe and effective stand-alone therapies that can be used to treat Trauma as well as Burnout, Anxiety, Somatization and many other difficulties. While DBR was originally created for individuals with Trauma, it is now being used to support the body in other treatment resistant mental health conditions as well as in processing emotional pain and developing a deeper connection with the body.

Who can benefit from somatic trauma therapy? 

Somatic trauma therapy can benefit anyone who has experienced trauma, from single  traumatic events to ongoing experiences that have left a lasting impact. It is especially  helpful for those who have experienced trauma that is stored in the body and impacting  their emotional and mental well-being. 

If you have tried EMDR without success, DBR therapy may be a more grounded and effective alternative.

Can Somatic Therapy work for me even if nothing else has worked?

Definitely! Many clients who seek out Somatic Therapy have had limited success in other therapies. This is usually because the other therapies did not effectively treat the body's response to the trauma. Often talk therapy can help with gaining "insight" into the reasons for difficulties and behaviours but does not fully support the body in processing difficult experiences

How can I prepare for a somatic trauma therapy session?

It may be helpful to have an idea of what you'd like to work on coming into the session as it does tend to require a full session. Wearing comfortable clothing and bringing a water bottle may also be a good idea. 

Is somatic trauma therapy safe? 

Somatic trauma therapy is generally considered safe, but it's important to work with a  trained therapist who can help you process any emotions that may arise during therapy.  It's also important to discuss any medical conditions or concerns with your therapist  before beginning therapy. 

How much work do I have to put in outside of my sessions?

Somatic therapy does not require any homework - but you may find that shifts continue to come up after the sessions. Journalling may be a helpful tool in processing these further and it can often be helpful to have a talk therapy session in between somatic sessions to further support the processing.   

How long is Somatic Therapy treatment?

Most clients will benefit from doing a block of 6-8 sessions at a time - because trauma processing can be exhausting and can take time to fully integrate it's helpful to take breaks and work in 3-6 month intervals if more sessions are desired. 

Additionally some clients may find that they prefer longer processing sessions so there is an option to do either 50minute sessions or 90 minute sessions

bottom of page