There are five main concepts in somatic psychotherapy and taken together, they provide a great understanding of why, perhaps, many of us struggle to move through trauma.


This concept is fundamental to somatic psychology and states that all of our experiences, particularly the traumatic ones, leave a physical impact on us. Our bodies are, in fact, ‘living memories’ of our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and sensations. What we’re afraid of, what we’re drawn to. All of this leaves a mark and affects how we approach the world thereafter.

Armor and Character

This is the belief that we develop a physical ‘armor’ in reaction to the experience, to protect us from emotional, psychological, and physical pain. The armor takes an actual physical form, by way of muscle tension or stiffness, and moves us toward one of five ‘bioenergetic characters’. Oral, masochist, rigid, schizoid and psychopath. As originally identified by Austrian psychotherapist William Reich, a student of Sigmund Freud.


The concept of energy metabolism concerns the movement of energy through your body. It can be stored, blocked, or conserved. You can be full of energy, or can’t seem to find any. Somatic psychotherapy uses the concept of energy to guide your treatment throughout.

Body memory

This is the hypothesis that your body can actually store memories, often traumatic ones, and is the reason why talking and dialogue alone can’t resolve many of the related issues.

Physical movement, bodywork, and other physical techniques need to be used as well.


Bringing the concepts together now, somatic psychology suggests that traumatic experiences cause the disruption of energy in your body, which leads to physical and mental harm.

image by Tim Chow