The term’somatic’ comes from the Greek word soma, which means ‘body’. Thus, somatic symptoms are those which are related to the body.  Somatic symptoms can thus properly be defined as ‘symptoms involving physical problems and/or concerns about medical symptoms Somatic symptoms can cause a lot of discomfort, leading to an overall reduction in one’s quality of life. Hence, it.’ is important to address somatic symptoms at the earliest

Some examples of somatic symptoms are:

  • Pain: this includes areas such as the chest, arms, legs, back, and abdomen.
  • Neurological symptoms such as headaches, weakness, dizziness, and fainting.
  • Digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain or bowel problems, diarrhoea, incontinence, and constipation.
  • Sexual symptoms such as pain during sexual activity or painful periods.

Somatic symptoms can become a disorder when they interfere with your ability to live a normal daily life. 

What causes Somatic Symptoms?

Somatic symptoms can be caused by several different factors, such as:

  • Genetic and biological factors, such as an increased sensitivity to pain
  • Family influence, which may be genetic or environmental, or both,
  • Personality trait of negativity, which can impact how you identify and perceive illness and bodily symptoms
  • Decreased awareness of or problems processing emotions, causing physical symptoms to become the focus rather than the emotional issues
  • Learned behavior — for example, the attention or other benefits gained from having an illness; or “pain behaviours” in response to symptoms, such as excessive avoidance of activity, which can increase your level of disability

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is a type of body-centred therapy. This kind of therapy looks at the connection of the mind and body and uses both psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. Thus, it is unlike other standard types of therapies, such as CBT, which only focuses on the mind. 

In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy practitioners use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that is negatively affecting your physical and emotional well-being. Apart from this, somatic therapy can also help people build a better mind-body connection, which can help them form positive habits, while also helping them improve their overall resilience

Examples of somatic therapy include: breath work, meditation, visualization, massage, grounding, dance, and/or sensation awareness work, vocal work, Body-mind centring, Kinetic awareness, ayurveda, yoga, postural integration, reiki massage, acupressure

When is Somatic Therapy used?

Somatic therapy can be used in both individual as well as group therapy settings. This type of therapy can be used to help address both physical and psychological symptoms of certain mental health issues, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Trauma and abuse
  • Problems with relationships
  • Sexual function

NOTE: It is, however, important to note that you are in control of your experience with somatic therapy. Before you start working with a somatic therapist, you can speak with them about what techniques and approaches they like to use to see if you’re a good fit. As for how these techniques work, they all have one thing in common, which is that they require you to connect with your body. 


Somatic symptoms are a reminder of the deep relationship shared by our mind and body. The basic idea of somatic therapy is that resolving physical symptoms can help enhance mental and emotional well-being as well. Thus, somatic therapy can be an effective option for those who want to establish a healthy mind-body connection and are looking for something different as compared to regular talk therapy





Sakshi is a Psychologist with expertise in research and writing, she can make the most complex topic sound simple! She has completed MSC in Counselling Studies from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Also, She loves books and music and forgets the world once earphones are plugged in.