Sleep: A Body/Mind State

I am sometimes asked why I chose the name “SOMA” for my company.  After all, we do psychotherapy, psyche = mind, but soma, from Greek, means body.  So what would a psychotherapy practice have to do with the body?  That is exactly the point.  Even though we are psychotherapists, I wanted to make sure that we represent the whole being.  Naming us SOMA brings to our awareness that the mind and the body are intricately combined and need to be treated as such when healing is required.  In our practice, we hone in on how the body responds to the psychological manifestations from the MVA trauma.  And vice versa.  Physical pain intrudes upon our mental state, and we need to learn how to manage it.  One very poignant way that we see the mind/body merger in full effect is with sleep.  Sleep is obviously a physical state:  our organs, muscles, and brain fatigue.  We need to replenish, to rest up.  We do that via sleep.  Yet, the mind also needs to replenish and restore.  The mind has its own method of processing and integrating the days’ events; it dreams.  Dreams can be restorative or disturbing.  After a car accident, people often awaken from accident-related nightmares.  When that happens, our health is adversely affected in many ways:  we lose sleep, we cannot physically recover from the days’ fatigue, we cannot heal injuries, we awaken with  tension and contracted muscles that heighten the stress level of an already stressed out nervous system.  Whenever there is anxiety, the body holds it in its musculature as an attempt to push the anxiety down.  It is a way to allow us to go through the day without being overwhelmed and debilitated by the anxiety.  So both physically and mentally, our health is compromised.


We were recently quoted in the magazine, ” Oregon Jewish Life“, talking about how sleep, or the lack thereof, will impede upon recovery.  The article appears in the June issue and it is called, “True Health Meshes Needs of Mind, Body, & Soul”, page 16.   A body-centered approach to treating MVA emotional trauma is what is needed to get the whole being back to health.  And that is what we do at SOMA.


Beverly Schwartz, LCSW

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