Somatisation and counselling

Michael Batkin Counselling in Stoke-on-Trent, Counsellor and Psychotherapist

The contents of this article somatisation and counselling, are my interpretations from experiences of working with clients in a counselling or psychodramatic-bodywork setting. The term psychodramatic-bodywork refers to the fusion of psychodrama and bodywork, created by Susan Aaron. Susan is a Canadian psychodramatist and massage therapist. I spent 7 years as her student, experientially learning from being a member of her groups. This training has increased my awareness of how somatisation presents in the body and emotional blocking styles that impair emotional expression. Somatisation and counselling has been an interest of mine for a number of years now.

Somatisation is the term to describe the experience of physical health concerns that have no medical explanation. These symptoms can be short term or over a long period of time, the underlying cause being emotional distress. This distress may be current or repressed and no longer in our awareness but showing as physical pain. Somatisation disorders are the reason for up to 30% of consultations in primary care settings.

Our biological, psychological and emotional communication is complex and difficult to understood. When experiencing somatisation, it is the manifestation of psychological and emotional problems which we experience as pain in the body.

Studies on people who experience post traumatic stress symptoms indicate there may be an increased likelihood of somatisation. For more information on PTSD symptoms visit my PTSD trauma counselling page. My wondering here is that hypoarousal numbing which has its purpose at the time, influences that emotions become unavailable, not allowing opportunity of expression and catharsis. This is why somatisation and counselling with a body aware counsellor / psychotherapist is really valuable.

General Symptoms of Somatisation

  • Fatigue
  • Stomach complaints
  • Headaches
  • Pain in varying parts of the body

For some people, symptoms could be part of a syndrome that is not fully understood, like:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

My anecdotal experience of working with somatisation in counselling as a psychotherapist is that fear / anxiety, are most often the underlying factors causing somatising issues. There are a number of phrases that imply how fear impacts the body, ‘worried sick’, ‘scared stiff’ or ‘paralysed with fear’. In extreme cases of somatisation people have lost the ability to walk for long periods, they literally became paralysed with fear. For more information on anxiety and its relationship with the emotion of fear, please visit my anxiety counselling page.

Symptoms of unexpressed fear

A general lack of vitality, heart palpations and panic attacks, difficulty in sleeping, nightmares, night terrors, phobia’s, OCD’s, frequent urination, lower back pain, alopecia, hair going grey suddenly, and a fast racy mind.

If you are experiencing unexplained pain or symptoms, the body can give messages telling us of unexpressed feelings requiring attention.

Somatisation and counselling

Somatisation and counselling is a term to describe people with a somatising tendency that seek support from a counselling professional.

What is the counselling role? Counselling is the safe arena to express emotions that are being somatised in the body. This involves attending to feelings towards present situations in your life, or paying attention to the issues of the past. The body holds the emotional energy of past events that we haven’t fully processed and expressed from our life wounds. This repression harms the body. When I counsel, I create an arena where there are very few conditions about what is ok and not ok about our emotional expression. It can be a place of child like emotional freedom before people and society repressed us. Somatisation and counselling, in an emotionally searching and expressive way is my preference.

The more emotionally well we become the more physically well and brighter our energy. When we free up our life force, our spirit strengthens and becomes more available to us.

Somatisation and counselling in Stoke on Trent

If you are from Stoke on Trent or surrounding area and seek counselling for somatisation issues please feel free to contact me. Alternatively, if you live further afield I’m happy to work on Skype or by telephone.

Please visit my home page for more information about my way of working and about me for further info.