The idea behind Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is that, in many cases, and especially in the cases of trauma and shame, the nervous system’s dysregulation leads to symptoms (such as hypervigilance or numbing) that manifest themselves in the body. While, these symptoms were adaptive at one stage of development and may well have enabled the person to survive his/her circumstances, they now cause difficulties.
In many cases, the body remembers while the brain does not—which is to say that trauma survivors and survivors of difficult childhoods often have symptoms rather than memories. Even when narrative memories of overwhelming events are present, talking about them may simply re-traumatize the person.
Sensorimotor interventions, through which the therapist helps the client notice what is happening in his/her body and experiment with allowing voluntary and involuntary movements that transform the trauma that has been stuck in the body for so long, can slide under the trauma narrative and create change in the body where the trauma has been stored. This change is then integrated “bottom up” through bodily sensation, five sense perception, emotions, and cognitions and, ultimately, traumatic memories are transformed into regular memories that no longer intrude on the person’s well-being.
Thus, Sensorimotor interventions are often more gentle and more quickly effective than traditional talk therapy methods in which old stories are rehashed but little change in the nervous system occurs.