Making the Distinction between Somatic Tools and a Somatic Paradigm:
I believe this distinction to be extremely important at this time. As more therapists become aware of the importance of the somatic piece, they want to bring in these tools, however, the risk is that these somatic tools are utilized within a paradigm that remains out of touch. The risk is that these tools are taken over and used to support the paradigm as it is. As a result, the power of the tools are diminished and, or–worse yet–that they are used to help someone to put up with something they really don't want to put up with. And the greatest problem, perhaps, is that an opportunity is missed to change the paradigm. That the wisdom seeking to emerge in this moment in time is pushed down.
This point may not make much sense without an example. And, yesterday, someone gave me the perfect opportunity to make this distinction:
They said to me, "so, you teach somatic tools to help calm the nervous system?"
"No. It's a little different from that. I use a somatic paradigm to listen to the whole being. In the process, the nervous system usually does calm and come into balance"
Do you get the distinction? It's subtle, but huge. The first statement reflect the old paradigm--the paradigm of distance, the paradigm of the body as machine. You push this button and get this result. The body is seen as an animal to control or a computer to tell what to do. There are some people who do not immediately get that there would be a problem in seeing the body as a machine. Most of us were raised to do our part on the assembly line.
The second statement attempts to see it differently. To see that the animal of the body is infinitely wise. That it requires support–like any living thing–but does not need to be manipulated, controlled, or brought into submission. You do not need to manipulate the breath or the thought, but instead, give space for its wisdom to unfold. I used the word "animal" and that is definitely part of the truth. But, reclaiming the body is equally magical and spiritual as well. A paradigm of touch sees the living self in an entirely different way.
This is just a short bit of thought that I shared after that perfect example came. If you are interested in going deeper into these ideas, please read my article "Touch, Somatics, and Psychotherapy: Part 2 A Paradigm of Touch"