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Somatic Psychotherapy for Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of Sexual Assault
Sarah Groff
Division:
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department:
Kinesiology, Psychology, and Biology
Mentor:
Michael Sutliff and Melissa Ferguson
Mentor's e-mail:
msutliff@occ.cccd.edu; mferguson25@occ.cccd.edu
Author's e-mail:
sgroff1@student.cccd.edu
Abstract:

Sexual trauma is a prevailing public health issue affecting individuals worldwide. Twenty-two percent of students reported a sexual assault since starting college (Mellins et al., 2017). Finding methods of healing from sexual assault trauma is a battle survivors face. There are various treatment options for those diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from sexual assault. One lesser-known therapy is Somatic Psychotherapy. This approach utilizes mind-body integration and methods to help calm the nervous system. The purpose of this literature review is to investigate somatic psychotherapy and how this approach can help sexual assault survivors. The literature detailing the history, methods, clinical reports, case studies, and qualitative research articles on Somatic Psychotherapy were analyzed (Brom et al., 2017; Kim et al., 2013; Walling et al., 2019; Young et al., 2018). The focus of this review centered on the nervous system, sexual trauma, and PTSD as applied to Somatic Psychotherapy modalities (Dworkin et al., 2017; Levine et al., 2018; Pitman et al., 2012). The analysis revealed that clinicians have a history of using Somatic Psychotherapy to treat patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but there is an inadequate amount of empirical research to justify or validate the implications and specific processes of this practice. Somatic Psychotherapy could theoretically be a valuable method for those who experience sexual trauma based on pathophysiology and positive subjective experience. In conclusion, it is recommended that additional empirical research on Somatic Psychotherapy as applied to distinct trauma groups be investigated. For individuals experiencing sexual assault, military trauma, and natural disasters, further research on somatic psychotherapy would make it more acceptable and accessible as a therapeutic modality.

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