Is Pain an Opportunity for Healing?
We've all heard the familiar saying, "no pain, no gain" when it comes to the physical body. Science says that in order for muscles to grow, they need to pushed to their limit, take on some damage (pain), and then be repaired and heal (gain). For the most part, we understand that effort is required to achieve almost anything, and the greater the effort, the greater the achievement or reward.
The protocol for many common injuries has been rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In the past, rest and limited movement was a common procedure after surgeries. However, new research and studies have shown that although rest is good immediately following an injury or surgery, movement and some stress to the injured area is actually more beneficial to healing. This is because blood flow facilitates recovery and healing, and movement and some managed pain/stress to the area further promotes blood flow.
Some therapies psychotherapies like EDMR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), hypnosis, and therapies that utilize trauma reenactment, may utilize pain to desensitize, reprocess, and promote healing. These types of therapies can be very successful but can feel very scary and contradictory as you want to stop the pain. Some traumas can be so overwhelming that the mere thought of revisiting the trauma can trigger powerful emotions and even resistance. Some pain is so crippling, it can stifle growth completely.
Traveling the path of least resistance can be particularly attractive, especially if you have been suffering. And much like resting immediately after an injury, resting emotional pain can sometimes be needed to help rest the nervous system. Problems can occur when you try to hide or avoid the trauma, manifesting in other symptoms like insomnia, exhaustion, increased pain sensitivity, or depression.
Somatic therapy is one way to listen to the body's signals and messages. Somatic therapy is an opportunity to heal. When trauma causes chronic physical pain, it is like the body is screaming, "HELP ME!" Like healing from a physical injury, healing traumas will require gentle movements and an understanding that the path to healing may not be smooth or straight. Healing may come in leaps and bounds, but it can also be many tiny steps sideways and even steps backward.
Although pain can be the not-so-gentle reminder that something needs healing, I want to emphasize that Somatic Therapy is not exposure therapy.
In Somatic Therapy, safety is first. If you don’t feel safe enough, connecting and/or healing can't take place. Feeling safe and secure is a requirement, otherwise, we are in fight/flight mode, an automatic stress response of the sympathetic nervous system to protect you, by helping you get out of a dangerous situation. Read more about the significance of fight or flight here.
Though Somatic Therapy aims to make you feel as safe and comfortable as possible, there may be triggers during our session. I will watch for any signs of distress and we will manage stress responses.
I am so excited to share somatic therapy with you. Call me at 604-868-5572 to find out more about how Somatic Therapy may be your opportunity to heal from the pain of past traumas.