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The Future of Somatic, Relational, and Experiential Approaches in Trauma and Mood Therapy

Updated: Nov 19, 2023


Introduction:

Picture yourself transported to the year 2030, where you find yourself logging in to a virtual therapy session via Zoom. Before the session, you have completed a series of self-report assessments, providing the AI therapist with valuable insights into your mental and emotional state. As the session commences, the AI therapist engages you in a series of questions, to which you respond by articulating your symptoms and thought processes. Subsequently, the AI therapist offers tailored advice, and you receive a link in your email, directing you to worksheets designed for the upcoming week's sessions.


In this futuristic scenario, the integration of AI into our daily lives prompts a thought-provoking question: If the therapist guiding you through this session is actually an AI-generated entity do we need human beings as therapist? Would you feel confident in the questions posed, the solutions offered, and the worksheets provided, knowing that the AI is leveraging real-time Google searches to research and tailor its responses to your specific needs? Furthermore, it raises the question of the qualities and characteristics a human brings to therapy.


What is CBT and Solution-Focused Therapy:


CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Solution-Focused Therapy are two popular forms of psychotherapy. Both approaches aim to help individuals overcome challenges and improve their mental well-being. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, while Solution-Focused Therapy emphasizes finding solutions and building on strengths. The benefits of these therapies include improved coping skills, better problem-solving abilities, and enhanced overall mental health.


In the field of counseling and therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Solution-focused Therapy have long been considered the gold standard for treating trauma and mood disorders and are labeled evidence based approaches. However, there are limitations that are often not known or even actively disregarded as these approaches are viewed as the ethical standard and not just an effective theory. A few of these limitations are listed below from the American Counseling Association. (1)


  • CBT doesn’t necessarily work well for all types of conditions, even for depression where it is mostly used.

  • The long-term effects of CBT are yet to be explored thoroughly. Since many mental health conditions like trauma symptoms and mood disorders have a high probability of relapse, whether CBT will actually help the client in the long term is to be decided. Some studies show that CBT and Solution-Focued Therapy is a short-term patch.

  • Since CBT focuses on only current problems, behavior, and thoughts, many critics argue that it does not focus on the underlying mental conditions such as childhood trauma, which could be the root cause for current events.

  • Some critics blame that the method is a practice where unwanted traits and characteristics are seen as a dark spot in our ideal image rather than a clue to our inner truths.


Somatic, Relational, and Experiential Therapies:


Recent research has shed light on alternative approaches that rely less on self-report tests, question-awnser and workbook materials. Somatic, relational, and experiential approaches offer a compelling array of evidence that challenges the traditional methods and opens up new possibilities for lasting change. This article explores the growing body of evidence supporting these approaches and their potential to become the predominant approach in therapy.


Somatic Approaches: Somatic approaches focus on the mind-body connection, acknowledging that trauma is often stored in the body and can be released through physical sensations and movements. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, and somatic-based interventions in reducing symptoms of trauma and improving overall well-being. The embodied experience allows individuals to access deeper layers of healing, promoting a sense of empowerment and self-awareness. (1)


Relational Approaches: Human beings are wired for connection, and relational approaches recognize the importance of healthy relationships in healing trauma and improving mood. Therapeutic relationships built on trust and empathy can provide a safe space for individuals to explore their emotions and experiences. Research shows that strong therapeutic alliances are associated with better treatment outcomes and increased resilience. By focusing on the therapeutic relationship and the clients social systems, practitioners can create a healing environment that fosters growth and emotional well-being. (2)


Experiential Approaches: Experiential approaches emphasize the importance of engaging clients in transformative experiences rather than relying solely on cognitive processes. These approaches include techniques like role-playing, art therapy, and psychodrama, which encourage clients to actively participate in their healing process. By creating corrective emotional experiences, individuals can re-frame past traumas and develop new ways of relating to themselves and others. Research has shown that experiential therapies can lead to significant improvements in mood and overall functioning. (3)


Conclusion:

While CBT and Solution-focused Therapy have long been considered the gold standard in therapy since its inception in the 1990's, emerging evidence suggests that somatic, relational, and experiential approaches hold great promise in the treatment of trauma and mood disorders. By incorporating the body, relationships, and corrective emotional experiences into therapy, practitioners can offer clients a more holistic and effective approach to healing.


As research continues to support the effectiveness of these approaches, it is likely to be seen as an equal approach in the field. By embracing these innovative techniques, therapists can empower their clients to achieve lasting change and find new paths to emotional well-being in a embodied, interpersonal and emotional way.


our team of therapist offer a wide range of diverse approaches to treat stress, trauma, and mood issues with an requirement to use somatic, relational, and/or experiential approaches alongside CBT and Solution Focused Therapy.


By integrating these approaches it creates the best possible outcomes for structured and evidence based treatment with the often unpredictable yet beautiful process of human growth.


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