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Somatic Therapy

Nurturing Your Resilience With Transforming Touch®
Sad Woman in a Crowd

TEB – A Somatic Therapy: 

There are a number of commonly presenting conditions, for which the first choice therapy from my practice is TEB: Transforming The Experience Based Brain. TEB is a somatic therapy that supports the healing of developmental trauma. TEB is delivered using Transforming Touch® or Transforming Intentional Touch (either online or when touch is not appropriate). Subject to an intake session and full history taking, here are some of the conditions it may support (when used alongside but NOT used to replace appropriate medical or GP support):

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Depression
  • Addictive Behaviours
  • Sleep Issues
  • Fear and Chronic Shyness
  • Sensory Processing Sensitivity
  • Highly Sensitive Person?
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Humans develop in biosocial ways, meaning our biology is impacted by social factors growing up. TEB is a “trauma informed” modality which draws on attachment theory, to create a safe haven of trust between therapist and client. TEB incorporates presence, regulation (through touch or ‘intentional touch’) and relationship to repair ruptures in early childhood development that are negatively impacting the adult.

For the therapy geeks amongst you: Transforming Touch® was evolved by Stephen J. Terrell, PsyD, SEP, a leading expert in the field of Developmental Trauma and Adoption:

Terrell came to the realization that there needed to be a way to reach non-verbal, or early developmental  trauma, without spoken language.  Out of this realization he developed Transforming Touch® and a training program designed for understanding and healing developmental trauma: “Transforming the Experience-Based Brain:  An Integrative Neurodevelopmental Approach to the treatment of Developmental Trauma”.  

You can read more about my TEB sessions in London and online here but first, you may like to scan down and read how TEB: Transforming (Intentional) Touch® can support specific conditions that often bring people to therapy.

TEB: A Somatic Therapy for Depression, Anxiety or Stress

We begin by looking at the current situation, identifying the resources available in your life along with possible causes of depression, anxiety or stress. There may be things that need to be attended to in the present as a first step. However if depression, anxiety or stress has been a constant companion for as long as you can recall, then TEB is generally a good starting place for our work together.

Continuing to talk and explore themes – or sometimes in silence – we will move through the 7 point protocol bringing attention to key areas of your body involved in stress physiology. The 7 point protocol uses touch (or visualisation) and a container of co-regulation, to support a gradual reduction in your allostatic load. With regular (weekly or fortnightly) sessions over a number of months, the systems of your body have the chance to become more regulated.

Alongside 7 point somatic therapy: using attachment informed talking therapy we can continue to explore the origins of the issues that you face. TEB particularly supports the healing of developmental or childhood trauma. However unlike traditional talking therapies – healing is happening from below and through your body – with the benefit that we are not relying on a top down narrative exploration of the past in order to heal.

Please note that you may or may not have an obvious childhood trauma narrative to engage with this therapy, sometimes the developmental causes are less clear. TEB Somatic Therapy can benefit people who have found talking therapy has had a limited impact on their issues, or who simply don’t feel very motivated to talk about the past, or who would rather engage with healing through their bodies.

TEB: The Somatic Roots of Addictive Behaviours

We wouldn’t expect a child to know how to speak without help, even though a child’s brain contains language centres. Similarly some systems of our body – such as the nervous system, kidney adrenals, HPA axis – need  biosocial input and help from caregivers, so that we may learn how to soothe and regulate out emotions when we are growing up. In the absence of a co-regulating adult we will develop defensive accommodations: these are often unconscious and compulsive strategies to manage the dysregulation within.

These adaptations are self protective mechanisms: for example excessive screen time may protect a young person from feelings of hopelessness, alcohol may soothe unbearable grief, cocaine use may mask painful feelings of vulnerability. Defensive accommodations whilst self protective, are also maladaptive and can have serious consequences in our adult life. In the short term they help to relieve unbearable inner stress – arising in response to the present or echoes of the past – longer term they may negatively impact our health, wellbeing and desires for life.

When beginning TEB therapy, you will receive background theory including elements of attachment theory, Polyvagal theory and you will learn about defensive accommodations. Defensive accommodations are one way to understand addictive behaviours: somatic therapy supports healing the embodied roots of dysregulation so that defensive accommodations can fall away.

People who have had adverse childhood experiences are two to four times more likely to start using alcohol or drugs at an early age. Addictive patterns are varied and complex and likely require a multidisciplinary approach which includes but is not limited to TEB.

Addressing Sleep Issues With Somatic Therapy

Much advice for sleep issues focuses on behavioural changes, such as reducing screen time and changing the time we go to bed. However bad habits that lead to poor sleep can be defensive accommodations (see above). That is – because our nervous system is dysregulated we unconsciously seek maladaptive self soothing activities.

The approach in TEB somatic therapy is to use touch and co-regulation, supporting your nervous system to be able to enter deeper parasympathetic rest states. Doing so enables behavioural changes to happen more easily (in time), as they are no longer needed to regulate the chaos within. Additionally there is a sleep specific enhancement we can use, to help regulate your pineal gland.

TEB: A Somatic Therapy for Overcoming Fear and Shyness

Chronic feelings of fear or shyness in adults can result from developmental or childhood trauma. When working with fear or shyness, we generally begin in very similar ways to depression, anxiety and stress as described above. However TEB somatic therapy has some particular insights on fear and shyness that I have not found in any other therapy: TEB enables us to address the unintegrated primitive reflex called fear paralysis.

Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating the the central nervous system of infants in response to stimuli. These reflexes can remain unintegrated leading to specific problems in later life. Primitive reflex integration has typically been done for children identified as having special educational needs, however the originator of TEB Stephen J. Terrell, PsyD, SEP realised the work could be beneficial for many of the adults he saw in private practice.

An unintegrated fear paralysis reflex can lead to the symptoms in adults listed below. Fear paralysis integration work can help overcome problems in adults that have been resistant to many other kinds of therapy.

  • Fear in groups
  • Emotional instability
  • Shyness
  • Compulsive traits
  • Stuck and not moving forward in life

Somatic Therapy – Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

TEB is a somatic therapy suitable for many people who present with symptoms of sensory overwhelm. You may think of yourself as a highly sensitive person, or wonder if you are a woman with ADHD or sensory processing sensitivity. The 7 point protocol of TEB can support the systems of your body related to the experience of sensory stress and overwhelm.

“several studies have found that children diagnosed with ADHD are more likely than their peers to have retained primitive reflexes”

How ADHD Resembles Retained Primitive Reflexes, and Vice Versa.

TEB additionally offers a route for integrating retained primitive reflexes in adults. After some weeks of the 7 point protocol, we would begin work on integrating the primitive reflexes. This typically begins with the fear paralysis reflex described above. In time we can move through to focus on the moro, spinal galant, asymmetric and symmetric tonic neck reflexes.

Somatic Therapy For Chronic Fatigue

Traumatic events in childhood and stress or emotional instability at any period in life may be associated with the development of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Stress, Childhood Trauma Linked To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome In Adults

TEB is a somatic therapy specifically developed for the healing of developmental trauma. It addresses the negative effects on health and well-being of adverse childhood experiences. Chronic fatigue is a complex condition with multiple possible triggers including viral infections, hormone imbalances and genes: as such healing chronic fatigue will often require a multidisciplinary approach which includes but is not limited to TEB.

Somatic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

There are studies that show a link between IBS and childhood abuse (including emotional, physical and sexual). A maladaptive stress response system, disruption in the gut brain axis, chronic hyper arousal, disruption of the HPA system: all these are suggested pathophysiological causes for the association of IBS with childhood abuse.

TEB offers a space in which you may explore impacts of past abuse on your present life. This takes place within an attachment informed container, helping progressively over time to build trust and safety. Touch or intentional touch (i.e. using focused presence with NO physical touch) brings soothing attention to your body, focusing on the systems impacted by biosocial development.

IBS is a complex condition with multiple possible triggers and as such will often require a multidisciplinary approach which includes but is not limited to TEB.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you are interested in sessions or workshops, you are welcome to contact me using the methods described on this website.

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