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April 29, 2024

Talk Therapy Didn’t Work for Me—But This Did.

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*Editor’s Note: Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say “this web site is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that. ~ Ed

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The last time I went to see a traditional talk therapist was several years ago.

I’d had a big breakup with one of my friends (actually, she’d ghosted me without warning), and I was desperate for some emotional support to help me make sense of it all, rebuild my confidence, and put myself back together.

The therapist I went to was lovely and I have no doubt that she meant well.

But as I sat on her soft beige couch, with a cup of chamomile tea warming my hands, I was taken aback with where she was going with things. I wanted to simply talk about the situation with my friend, but she wanted to go over my entire family history in the minutest detail. Far from feeling better, I came out of that first session feeling emotionally exhausted. I was reassured that this was an essential part of the process and to keep going to see her. And like a good girl, I did.

I continued to see this therapist for a few months, but it always felt incredibly heavy. Session after session, we went digging for what was wrong and revisiting stuff from my childhood that probably in hindsight didn’t need to be revisited.

This isn’t working for me, I thought. So I sent her a breakup text, and decided to explore working with someone else.

A few weeks later, I came across Mia. Mia was a somatic practitioner offering sessions online, and I immediately felt drawn to her approach.

Maybe she can help me work through what had happened with my friend, I thought.

A week later, I was sat across from my laptop and Mia was there on the screen smiling at me, listening intently. The first thing she said to me after I’d told her that I was still upset with my friend for ghosting me, was:

“Of course you feel upset and confused, Sarah. This is a natural response. There’s nothing wrong with you and I’m here to help you find inner resolution and comfort.”

My whole body softened like melted butter as I received those words, and big tears of relief started streaming down my cheeks.

Mia had been able to attune to me and offer to me in one sentence what months of traditional talk therapy hadn’t.

We did several sessions together where we held space to work through and liberate the emotional residue that had lodged itself in my body. It turned out that I had been shaming myself for being ditched by my friend, and this shame had become imprinted within my body, causing me to lose my confidence. As we held space to witness it, the shame began to unwind. And just like that, my old confident and fun-loving self started to come back online. It was like magic.

This was my first experience of somatic-based coaching and it completely changed my life. I was already on the healer’s path and had built a successful career out of teaching yoga and coaching women, but not long after my experience with Mia, I decided to train in somatic therapy, trauma resolution, and later, nature-inspired coaching.

Working with Mia taught me a valuable lesson all those years ago: that healing and transformation happens in the body, not just the mind. To find liberation, we don’t need to go digging into our childhoods, reliving every sad or unfair experience. Healing happens in the present moment, by letting the body speak to us and express itself.

As a result of my first experience of somatic coaching, a portal opened up within me and I discovered an even deeper sense of purpose—to help others turn their pain and challenges into healing, growth, meaning, purpose, and greater resilience.

Years later, I now train people in somatic coaching techniques, and time and time again, still to this day, I’m blown away at the efficacy and simplicity of somatic-based approaches.

If talk therapy or mindset-based work hasn’t worked so well for you, you’re not alone. Here’s what may help you instead:

>> Recognise that your body keeps the score. Emotions that aren’t expressed get imprinted in your body. They need space to be metabolised.

>>Know that you don’t need to relive every sad childhood moment to liberate yourself. In fact, somatic work doesn’t require that you remember anything, only cultivate your capacity to notice, sense, and feel what’s happening at the level of your body.

>> Remember that there’s nothing “wrong” with you. Your nervous system is incredibly smart, and rather than making your reactions wrong, the fastest route to liberation is to first make space to understand the role and function of your behaviour, and what it’s trying to do for you. From this space of self-compassion, you can then start to make the small changes that make a big difference.

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