Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (or SMP) is a body-centered approach that aims to understand how the mind, body, and relationships work together to treat the somatic symptoms of unresolved trauma. While traditional talk therapies rely on the individual's verbal account of their situation, this type of therapy focuses on the person's physical experience to improve mental health.


What is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy?

SP is a comprehensive treatment approach developed by Pat Ogden, Ph.D. This method integrates sensorimotor processing with cognitive and emotional processing in treating trauma. 

In other words, SP utilizes a person's body, mind, and emotions to manage and relieve physical sensations associated with trauma.

By focusing on the body first, rather than thoughts and feelings, SP addresses the impact the trauma has had on the body, which facilitates emotional and cognitive processing in turn. 


When is Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Beneficial?

When used for trauma and attachment-related issues, SP can help turn a  traumatic memory into a source of self-awareness and strength. This gentle, integrated approach provides a powerful therapeutic tool for:

  • Anxiety 
  • PTSD
  • Difficulty concentrating due to overwhelming thoughts or uncomfortable physical sensations
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions that are distressing or disturbing
  • Finding it difficult to enjoy life or feel hopeful
  • Childhood trauma, including neglect, abuse, or toxic parent
  • Trouble keeping a job, a family, friendships, and other relationships
  • Feeling detached from yourself and your relationships


How does Sensorimotor Psychotherapy work?

A typical session looks different for everyone, as they depend on your unique needs and capacity for processing trauma. Additionally, it’s based on a therapist’s level of training. Generally speaking, there are three significant steps toward promoting better health:


  1. Safety and stabilization: Your therapist will work to identify any physical and mental connections that have been “clocked” or “frozen”. While maintaining a safe, controlled environment, this phase helps highlight the body's response to specific memories, thoughts, and emotions.

  2. Processing traumatic memories:  If you feel ready to speak about the trauma, your therapist may ask you to recall the period of time leading up to the incident. As you do this, your therapist will pay attention to any significant emotional or physical reactions you're experiencing. For example, if you report feeling angry, your therapist may ask you where in your body you feel that anger (your eyes, throat, chest, etc.).

  3. Re-integration: This phase includes strengthening newly restored connections through mental practice, physical exercise, and mindfulness to promote a continuous triumph over the experience.



Therapist and client collaboration is essential to successful treatment outcomes. SP can ultimately help you address and overcome any unresolved feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that are disrupting your life.