Somatic Coaching: What it Is, Benefits and How to Perform it

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Somatic Coaching: What it Is, Benefits and How to Perform it

How to become a somatic coach? Exercises, techniques and the best programs

By Lucia Baldelli

Somatic coaching has emerged as a powerful modality that integrates the wisdom of the body with coaching techniques to foster deep transformation and self-discovery. In this article, I will delve into the essence of somatic coaching, exploring its principles, applications, and pathways to becoming a somatic coach. At Coaching Outside the Box, we understand that the journey to mastery in any coaching niche is multifaceted: as we unravel what somatic coaching is, you’ll discover how it incorporates the body’s innate intelligence. Whether you’re contemplating how to become a somatic coach or simply seeking to enrich your current practice with somatic principles, this article might inform your next steps. Join us in an exploration of this holistic approach, which promises not just to inform but also to transform.

What is somatic coaching?

Somatic coaching is a holistic approach to personal and professional development that integrates the body, mind, and spirit. It focuses on accessing the body’s wisdom and intelligence to facilitate growth, transformation, and healing. The term “somatic” comes from the Greek word “soma,” which means “the body as perceived from within.” Therefore, somatic coaching emphasises the embodied experience, recognising that our physical sensations, emotions, and movements hold valuable insights and information.

This practice originated from various disciplines, including somatic psychology, neuroscience, mindfulness, and body-centred therapies. It draws on principles from these fields to help individuals tap into their body’s innate intelligence for greater self-awareness, resilience, and effectiveness.

Somatic coaching involves working with clients to explore their bodily sensations, movements, and patterns, as well as their thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Through somatic exercises, guided inquiry, and mindful awareness, clients learn to listen to the signals and messages of their bodies, which can reveal underlying patterns, barriers, and strengths. 

In contexts such as leadership development, personal growth initiatives, or stress management programs, somatic coaching proves invaluable. It equips individuals with the tools to become more attuned to their physical self—often leading to profound shifts in behaviour and mindset. The integration of mind-body-spirit not only fosters personal well-being but also enhances professional performance by cultivating presence, empathy, and decisiveness among leaders and teams.

Somatic Coaching is a specific aspect of Mindfulness Coaching that focuses on the body. In our Mindfulness Coaching Certification program, you learn to leverage somatics for a holistic understanding of the mind-body connection.

Learn to leverage somatics in our Mindfulness Coaching Course!

  • Start Date: 22/11
  • End Date: 20/12

What does a somatic coach do?

What is a somatic coach then? Their role is to support clients in their journey of self-discovery, growth, and transformation by facilitating a deeper connection to their body’s wisdom and intelligence. As a somatic coach, you create a safe and supportive space for clients to explore their bodily sensations, emotions, and patterns, guiding them through somatic exercises, reflective inquiry, and mindful practices.

Here are some key functions of a somatic coach:

  • Facilitating Awareness: Somatic coaches assist clients in becoming more conscious of their body’s signals and the interconnectedness of their physical sensations with thoughts and emotions.
  • Exploring Body-Mind Connection: Coaches guide clients to understand how the body reflects mental and emotional states, providing insights into personal and professional challenges.
  • Providing Tools and Techniques: Somatic coaches offer a variety of somatic exercises, mindfulness practices, and embodiment techniques to help clients regulate their nervous system, manage stress, and cultivate resilience. These tools empower clients to tap into their body’s innate resources for healing and growth.
  • Supporting Growth and Transformation: Somatic coaches help clients break free from limiting patterns, encouraging new ways of being that foster development.
  • Creating Accountability and Structure: They help maintain focus on goals by setting actionable steps and providing consistent support.

Somatic coaching: benefits

Somatic coaching offers a wide range of benefits that can positively impact various aspects of an individual’s life. By harnessing the profound connection between body and mind, somatic coaching facilitates personal and professional growth in numerous ways: 

  • Mental Wellness: Somatic coaching encourages a regulated nervous system and effective stress management, leading to reduced anxiety and a balanced state of mind.
  • Communication Skills: Clients enhance their ability to interpret and express nonverbal communication, improving interpersonal interactions.
  • Professional Development: Somatic coaching fosters leadership qualities and emotional intelligence, essential for workplace success.
  • Emotional Intelligence: By understanding the physical manifestation of emotions, clients learn to navigate their feelings and relationships with greater empathy.
  • Deepen Relationships: The practice aids in building stronger connections through authentic communication and empathy.
  • Decision Making: Somatic coaching enables clients to tap into their intuition, making choices that resonate with their deepest values.
  • Behavioural Patterns: Clients identify and release limiting behaviours, unlocking new levels of freedom and potential.
  • Self-awareness: A deeper exploration of inner sensations leads to profound self-knowledge and intentional living.
  • Workplace Dynamics: The approach promotes healthy team dynamics, enhancing collaboration and respect.
  • Untangle Limiting Beliefs: Clients learn to recognise and reframe beliefs that restrict their creativity and resilience.
  • Addressing the Root of Stressors: Somatic coaching equips individuals with strategies to identify and manage stress at its source, fostering lasting well-being.

You are invited to join our FREE ‘Coaching Dojo’ to practice in a safe space and get feedback on your skills by our ICF certified mentor coaches.

The principles of somatic coaching

Somatic coaching is grounded in several foundational principles that emphasise the importance of somatic awareness, embodiment, and the interconnectedness of the mind and body. 

Let’s explore them together:

  • Somatic Awareness: This principle is central to somatic coaching, guiding individuals to tune into their body’s cues. It fosters a deepened self-awareness and insight that can be pivotal for personal growth.
  • Role of the Body in Shaping Experiences: Our physical form profoundly influences our perceptions and interactions. By acknowledging this, clients can uncover and address deep-seated patterns affecting their daily lives.
  • Somatic Markers in Decision-Making: These bodily cues serve as internal guides during decision-making processes, offering insights beyond rational thought.
  • Embodiment and Presence: Emphasising the importance of being fully present, somatic coaching aids clients in achieving a grounded state of being through various practices.
  • Interconnectedness of Mind and Body: Highlighting the synergy between our mental and physical states, this principle shows how each aspect can influence the other, creating a comprehensive understanding of our being.
  • Recognising and Altering Patterns: Somatic coaching provides the tools to identify and change limiting patterns, enabling personal evolution and enhanced well-being.

Through these principles, somatic coaching not only enriches clients’ understanding of themselves, but also equips them with practical tools for lasting change. Learn more about it in our Mindfulness Coaching Certification program.

How to perform somatic coaching?

Somatic coaching involves a unique approach that integrates the wisdom of the body into the coaching process. 

Somatic coaching sessions begin by creating a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable exploring their bodily sensations, emotions, and experiences. This may involve setting clear boundaries, establishing confidentiality, and building rapport between the coach and client (read more about the coaching relationship).

The coach guides clients in exploring their somatic experiences, helping them tune into their bodily sensations, movements, and patterns. This may involve various somatic exercises, such as breathwork, mindfulness practices, and body scans, designed to deepen awareness and connection to the body.

Through somatic exploration, clients identify patterns of tension, discomfort, or ease in their bodies that may be linked to underlying emotions, beliefs, or behaviours. The coach supports clients in recognizing these patterns and exploring their root causes.

Somatic coaching, much like mindfulness coaching, emphasises the integration of mind-body awareness, helping clients recognize the interconnectedness of their physical, mental, and emotional states. Clients learn to listen to the wisdom of their bodies and integrate this awareness into their decision-making and actions.

A typical somatic coaching session may begin with a check-in to assess the client’s current state and intentions for the session. The coach then guides somatic exercises or activities to facilitate embodied awareness and exploration. Reflective dialogue and inquiry follow to deepen understanding and insight. The session concludes with integration and grounding practices to help the client anchor their learnings and experiences.

Connect your clients to their present experience, the only REAL one!

  • Start Date: 22/11
  • End Date: 20/12

Techniques and Practices in Somatic Coaching

Somatic coaching integrates body-based techniques to foster personal development, enhance somatic awareness, relieve tension, manage stress, and improve emotional regulation. Central to this approach are exercises like somatic movements, breathwork, and practices that focus on bodily sensations to foster internal change. These methods help clients release physical tension linked to emotional or psychological stress, promoting relaxation, balance, and a calm nervous system.

Key to somatic coaching is helping clients understand how emotions manifest in the body and develop skills to regulate emotional states through awareness of bodily sensations and mindfulness. This awareness enables clients to approach emotions with ease and resilience, laying the groundwork for deeper exploration in somatic practices.

Body scanning

Body scanning is a somatic coaching technique that enhances awareness of bodily sensations, fostering a stronger body connection. It involves guiding clients to focus on different body parts sequentially, observing sensations like warmth, tingling, or pressure without judgement. 

Starting from the toes or soles of the feet and moving upwards, clients pay attention to each part, acknowledging sensations without attempting to alter them. This method cultivates a detailed awareness of the physical self, helping clients identify tension, discomfort, or relaxation. As a coach, you encourage clients to approach these sensations with curiosity and acceptance, promoting a compassionate self-relationship. Body scanning not only heightens somatic awareness but also contributes to calmness and well-being.

If you want to partner with an ICF Master Certified Coach on one of your recordings to acknowledge your strengths and explore what you need to grow, you can book a 1-1 mentor coaching session with Lucia.

Breathing techniques

Breathing techniques in somatic coaching involve intentional manipulation of the breath to regulate the nervous system, promote relaxation, and increase body awareness. These techniques are useful because the breath serves as a bridge between the mind and body and can directly influence our physiological and emotional states.

Some examples of breathing exercises commonly used in somatic coaching include:

  • Deep Belly Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing): Inhale deeply through the nose into the abdomen, not just the chest, and exhale slowly through the mouth. This promotes tension release and relaxation.
  • Equal Breathing: Inhale and exhale for the same duration, like a count of four for both. This method balances the nervous system and improves focus.
  • 4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale for four counts, hold for seven, and exhale for eight. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, it’s especially good for relaxation and stress reduction.

These practices are crucial for helping clients connect with their bodies and better manage emotions.

Grounding exercises

Grounding exercises in somatic coaching are practices that help clients connect with the present moment, their bodies, and the physical environment. These exercises are aimed at fostering a sense of stability, safety, and rootedness, especially during times of stress, anxiety, or overwhelm.

Examples of grounding exercises you can integrate in your practice include:

  • Rooting into the Earth: Clients are guided to imagine themselves as a tree with roots extending deep into the earth, grounding them and providing stability.
  • Sensory Awareness: Clients are invited to notice and describe sensory experiences in the present moment, such as the feeling of their feet on the ground, the sounds around them, or the temperature of the air.
  • Grounding Objects: Clients hold or interact with a grounding object, such as a stone or piece of fabric, focusing on its texture, weight, and temperature to bring attention to the present moment.

Join our Mindfulness Coaching Course and get certified!

  • Start Date: 22/11
  • End Date: 20/12

Movement and Dance

Movement and dance in somatic coaching facilitate therapeutic expression, emotional release, and self-discovery. These activities provide nonverbal ways to express complex emotions, allowing clients to explore and release feelings that may be buried:

  • Therapeutic Expression and Emotional Release: Movement and dance enable clients to express emotions nonverbally, accessing and releasing emotional memories through the body’s movements, aiding in catharsis and healing.
  • Self-Discovery and Connection: These practices encourage clients to connect with their body’s wisdom, enhancing self-awareness and authenticity. As clients engage more deeply with their movements, they report feeling more in tune and connected with their core selves, leading to improved overall well-being.

Savouring

Savouring is the act of intentionally indulging in and deeply appreciating positive moments, sensations, or experiences to heighten joy and contentment. As a critical technique in somatic coaching, it focuses on amplifying pleasure, gratitude, and well-being. 

Coaches encourage individuals to pause and consciously engage with positive experiences, whether it’s savouring the flavour of a meal, basking in the warmth of the sun, or relishing a laugh. By fully immersing oneself and utilising all senses, clients enhance their connection to life’s joys.

The practice also involves recognizing and expressing gratitude for these moments, significantly boosting one’s emotional state. Incorporating savouring into daily life—through meals, nature, achievements, or hobbies—can markedly elevate life quality. It serves as a reminder to live fully and intentionally, cherishing each moment as a distinct and valuable gift.

Sensory exploration

Sensory exploration in somatic coaching is about actively engaging with the senses to enhance awareness of bodily sensations, emotions, and the surrounding environment, promoting a profound perception of the present. It involves focusing on sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to discover experiences often missed in everyday life’s rush.

This practice is essential in somatic coaching as it connects cognitive processes with physical experiences, helping individuals tap into their body’s inherent wisdom. Simple activities like closing the eyes to appreciate music more deeply or walking barefoot to feel the earth’s texture are examples of sensory exploration.

In coaching sessions, clients might engage in exercises that focus on individual senses or combine them, enriching their experiential landscape. This approach not only fosters mindfulness but also supports emotional regulation and stress relief.

Visualisations

Visualisations in somatic coaching are structured exercises in guided imagery, aimed at tapping into the body’s intelligence, emotions, and internal resources through vivid mental pictures. This practice enables clients to connect with their inner selves beyond verbal communication and conscious reasoning.

Designed to elicit specific bodily sensations, emotions, or experiences, visualisations might lead a client to imagine a safe, comforting space, fostering feelings of security and peace, or to envision achieving future goals, boosting motivation and empowerment.

The effectiveness of visualisation stems from its ability to engage the subconscious, linking abstract concepts to concrete experiences. It’s employed not only for relaxation and healing but also for increasing self-awareness and facilitating personal growth and change. Within somatic coaching, visualisation transcends mere fantasy, incorporating holistic engagement and actionable insights for transformation.

Body stories

Body stories encompass the narratives, emotions, and experiences encoded in the body, revealed through sensations, movements, and even habits. They represent the body’s own memory of life events, often manifesting physically.

In somatic coaching, we engage in a dialogue with the body to unearth these stories, encouraging clients to observe their physical reactions to various situations or memories. This helps them understand their body’s way of communicating its past and present.

Exploring body stories, through movement or stillness, offers profound insights into how past experiences influence current behaviours, facilitating healing and growth.

Inner child work

Inner child work, a key component of somatic coaching, focuses on connecting with and healing our subconscious childhood parts. It’s based on the premise that many adult behaviours, emotions, and beliefs stem from early life experiences. By revisiting these years with a somatic approach, the goal is to recognize and address the needs of the inner child that were not met or misunderstood.

Techniques include guided visualisation to safely encounter one’s younger self, dialoguing with the inner child, and creative activities for expression and connection. This gentle exploration allows clients to heal past hurts and foster a nurturing self-relationship, leading to deep healing and integration.

Somatic coaching exercises examples

Other somatic exercises can be introduced in coaching to help clients to increase body awareness and emotional intelligence. Some examples are yoga, dance, somatic stretching, journaling, daily affirmations, etc. These practices are designed to bring clients into a deeper relationship with their bodies, allowing them to experience the present moment more fully and to access their inner wisdom.

These exercises can both be incorporated into coaching sessions or given as homework to clients. During sessions, you might guide a client through a series of movements or reflective prompts to explore specific themes or challenges. As homework, clients might be encouraged to maintain a daily practice that supports their coaching goals and fosters ongoing self-discovery. The key is to tailor these somatic exercises to the individual’s needs, creating a personalised approach that resonates with their unique journey towards growth and self-awareness.

Somatic coaching questions to ask

Somatic coaching is not just exercises and techniques but it might just involve asking powerful questions with a determined aim. These questions are designed to prompt deeper introspection and embodiment, guiding clients to uncover insights that are stored within the body’s memory. 

Here are some questions you can use during a somatic coaching session:

  • “How does your body feel right now?”
  • “What sensations do you notice in your body as we discuss this topic?”
  • “When you think about [specific situation or emotion], where do you feel it in your body?”
  • “How does your body typically respond when you encounter stress or challenges?”
  • “Can you describe any patterns or movements that arise when you’re feeling [emotion]?”
  • “What does your body need in order to feel more grounded and centred?”
  • “Are there any areas of tension or discomfort in your body that you’d like to explore further?”
  • “How do you experience relaxation or ease in your body? What does that feel like?”
  • “Can you bring awareness to your breath and notice how it’s moving in your body right now?”
  • “What sensations arise when you visualise yourself in a state of strength and resilience?”
  • “How does your body express joy or excitement? Can you tap into those sensations now?”
  • “What messages or insights might your body be trying to communicate to you through these sensations?”
  • “How can you honour and respect the boundaries of your body in this situation?”
  • “What would it look like to move forward in a way that feels aligned and supportive to your body’s needs?”
  • “Can you connect with a memory or image that brings you a sense of peace and relaxation? What sensations arise as you hold onto that image?”

These questions facilitate a deep dialogue with the client, encouraging a journey inward to the wisdom of the body. 

How to become a somatic coach?

Becoming a somatic coach typically involves a combination of education, training, and practical experience.

This is the incredible blend we offer as part of our Mindfulness Coaching Certification Course. The journey to embodying the role of a somatic coach starts with deepening your understanding of the somatic field: a robust training program will provide you with the theoretical knowledge necessary to grasp the intricacies of body-mind integration.

In addition to theoretical learning, practical application is crucial. Engaging in hands-on training under the guidance of experienced somatic practitioners allows you to hone your skills and apply somatic principles in real-world coaching scenarios. At Coaching Outside the Box, we emphasise the importance of self-exploration and personal somatic practice as well. It’s essential for a somatic coach to be in tune with their own body to effectively guide others.

Moreover, pursuing certification from a reputable institution not only validates your expertise but also equips you with the credentials needed to establish credibility in the field. Our Mindfulness Coaching Certification course, integrates these elements, providing an immersive experience that prepares you to confidently step into the role of a somatic coach.

  • Start Date: 22/11
  • End Date: 20/12

Somatic coaching training and certification

As you consider the path to becoming a somatic coach, you’ll find a variety of courses, training programs, and certifications available. Each offers a unique perspective on how to integrate the body’s wisdom into coaching sessions, and it’s important to select one that aligns with your professional goals and personal philosophy.

In our training, you will learn to leverage these practices to enhance your clients’ self-awareness and mindful living and help them navigate the complexities of life with greater clarity, calm, and presence. Our program is designed to empower you with the tools and techniques necessary to facilitate transformative experiences for your clients. You will master “the art of partnering with clients in a grounded and thought-provoking process that nurtures their present awareness in everyday life“.

By choosing our certification course, you benefit from a comprehensive curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge with practical application, ensuring that you not only learn but also embody the principles of somatic coaching. 

Overcoming challenges with somatic coaching

Introducing somatics into your practice may present coaching challenges, including client resistance to body awareness. It’s important to start with simple, non-threatening exercises, building trust and rapport before advancing to more complex practices. Emphasise that somatic coaching is a gradual journey, encouraging clients to remain curious and patient, and to recognize and celebrate their progress, no matter how small.

Clarify the difference between somatic coaching and therapy, explain what is coaching (and what it isn’t) highlighting that while both explore emotional and bodily experiences, coaching focuses on personal growth and goal achievement.

Anticipate resistance as a natural response, and address it by creating a supportive environment, practising active listening, validating experiences, and gently guiding clients towards their bodily sensations. Patience and persistence in reinforcing the body’s role in personal development, along with clear distinctions between coaching and therapy, help clients use somatic awareness as a tool for self-led growth and achieving their goals.

Best books on somatic coaching

For those looking to deepen their understanding of somatic coaching, literature can be a treasure trove of insights and practical knowledge. Here is a curated list of essential reads that offer profound wisdom on the subject:

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