Integral Somatic Psychotherapy2

ISP stands for Integral Somatic Psychotherapy. Psychological regulation, body regulation, and subtle body (called energy body in the West) regulation are the three pillars of Integral Somatic Psychotherapy (ISP).

Most mainstream non body-oriented therapeutic approaches get into a pattern of addressing experiences that, as they emerge (mostly in the chest area), are immediately translated into “understanding” them. There is nothing wrong with this per se as understanding is an important part of healing. However, when understanding dominates the process, the capacity to work through the experience and to leave it behind is diminished. Associations and meanings grow. And very soon, we are in a Woody Allen movie.

Such approaches miss the simple fact that the more intense an experience is in the body, more of the body needs to be involved in holding and processing it.

Integral Somatic PsychotherapyWhen we have difficult or unpleasant emotions and thoughts our body gets stressed. The body then constricts to manage the stress. If this persists, pressure builds up, especially in a very narrow part of the body. The solution is to find a way to expand the body and spread the difficult experience so that it becomes more tolerable and does not trigger a symptom (example: a panic attack could be triggered by the unpleasant emotion of fear).

When the three pillars of ISP are simultaneously involved in therapy, they allow us to make a bigger space for the difficult experience so that the body can hold more of it. ISP brings the benefits of three perspectives to maximize treatment effectiveness. As we practice in session, these tools can be learned and used at home.

Awareness, movement, breath, or self-touch allow us to have a fuller experience of the feeling, a greater ability to tolerate it, and even a more coherent sense of its meaning. The understanding that comes from a deeply felt experience is more likely to be relevant to the situation. Overall, it is less threatening. Relief is immediate.

This has been partially or at times fully reprinted with permission from Raja Selvam and