Working with the Body to Release Anxiety

When anxiety strikes, it not only consumes the mind . . .

. . . it can take hold in the body as well.

And chronic anxiety can contribute to a wealth of physiological problems, including chronic pain, fatigue, and insomnia – just to name a few.

Below, you’ll see how Pat Ogden, PhD worked with a teenaged girl to release anxiety that was stored in the body.

Pat is a pioneer in Somatic Psychology, and founder and director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.

Check it out – it’s less than 4 minutes.

Anxiety can be so limiting for our clients. It can leave people feeling isolated and hold them back from having meaningful relationships.

But as Pat demonstrated, when we work skillfully with anxiety, it can help our clients develop confidence and embrace healthy change.

This video was taken from the Next Level Practitioner training program. That program is not open for new members right now, but if you want to be on a waiting list in case it opens up, please click here.

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you. What have you found to be effective in working with anxiety?

Please leave a comment below.

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you for teaching us to listen to the body as well as to the words.

  2. Joanne Nemecek, LMSW says:

    I appreciate learning about the need to address the child and the source of trauma (and shame) for the 8 year old before trying to help with the physical presentation in her posture.
    Thank you.

  3. Doris M. Mason says:

    Thank you for teaching us to listen to the body as well as to the words.
    Also to seek the early decisions we made and to recognize how we are
    using them today. And then to dialogue with them and see if we want to
    keep obeying their limiting commands. Then you showed us how comforting
    the body part which is holding the fear is essential as we begin to consider in our more
    grown up brain how to reengage in relationships as a person who is intentionally
    recognizing how valuable and likeable she is. Thank you.

  4. Robert Hutchinson says:

    Mindfulness practice definitely helps me with my anxiety.

  5. sandra says:

    I have found that mindfulness practise really helps with anxiety.

  6. Happy Room says:

    Thank you. Clear and simple but powerful.

  7. Vicki, LMHC, Hawaii says:

    Feldenkrais Method comes to mind. Here is a neck exercise

    https://soundcloud.com/feldenkrais-guild-r/sitting-and-turning

  8. Amy says:

    Inteesting

  9. Marie says:

    I resonate with the experience that first, the girl needed to understand what was happening (being bullied, not deserving respect), then the emotional response could have arise, and just lately, the body experience could have been addressed. I am going through my own process in this sequence… It touched me as I was also bullied for being “too clever” (x in the family bullied for being too stupid), I also had mother who was doing all the talking…
    I remember having most anxiety in my stomach, losing weight when going to the bullying school, becoming anorectic almost, becoming silent, closed in (additional abuse in family going on).
    I remember being also abused by one teen boy about my brain (too much) and my sexual development (curious what my body would say how it affected me).
    I had nobody to help, but I changed the school (I wanted, I read my first book on psychology that time: about low-self esteem, I thought that “I was the problem”, I was at cardiologist -he told the mother I was a hopeless neurotic, I had so high blood pressure..), got new friends, more intelligent teachers and I got well very fast. However, the effect of the abuse at school stayed in my body and mind until much later.
    Glad that these information are available, hope it would help the girl for now, and for the future, that these experience don´t need to be stored in her body.

  10. Jenni van Rooyen says:

    I have started doing Yin yoga which really helps to relieve the anxiety. It is slow and gentle but really stretches the body and the joints are loosened.

  11. ellen says:

    Great technique… thank you

  12. Diane Green says:

    This was a wonderful video, thank you! I most often assimilate these videos in relationship to my clients, however, there are definitely those times where I personally resonate with the information. This is one of those times. Interestingly, I have a head tilt similar to what Pat described. I’m curious to see what I experience when I consciously straighten my head to be centered.

  13. Barbara Caspy says:

    Thank you, Pat and Ruth. I’ve been doing more and more body work with clients, with positive results. Breathing into the place in the body that holds the anxiety has been very helpful.

  14. Solveig Sandstrom Taylor says:

    Hi Ruth,
    For some people , releasing all trapped emotions with The Emotion Code, asking the unconscious questions in many different ways can help in a couple of sessions.
    Love and light,
    Solveig

  15. Diana W. Guthrie says:

    Yes this is a good approach among a number of others. As a Marriage and Family Therapist as well as a nurse practitioner, I have used a technique similar to this plus others related to Mindfulness; Motivational Interviewing, and other such as Yoga, etc.

  16. Maria Bennett says:

    EFT is also effective at connecting the body part, with the age, the feeling and the intensity what level) of the memory/experience. Tapping counteracts the depth of that grid, to loosen and lessen its impact on confidence and belief limits. It is the pea or the pebble that is embedded and has to be dislodged.

  17. Janice H Jorden says:

    She doesn’t say how…Dr. Ogden mostly describes what happened. This doesn’t translate into helping me. I have a great deal of respect for the work she does but I’m not sure she can effectively teach it in this format…Its not enough to share a successful case, I would like to understand the process of success interventions.

  18. veronica says:

    Jean Pierre Barral, in his Visceral Manipulation courses, talks about C3/4 being the ‘centre of anxiety’ . In my practice as a PT, I often need to release the RAS , the nerve roots of C3/4 and the connection with the rootlets from these levels that connect with the vagus nerve.
    The above video clearly shows how ‘the body hugs the fascial lesion’

    • Wow! I have had neck problems since my youth, and they Center on C3 and C4. I also have a great deal of Developmental trauma. I feel like the past 20 years of effort have healed my heart and brain but my body still holds the tension. Thank you for making this link between anxiety and the problem with my neck.

      • Vicki, LMHC, Hawaii says:

        Yea, I always knew it was related, but just keep taking it.

    • michelle deeb says:

      You mean, in other words, you need a physical manipulation for these releases or you can you get that without some kind of Chiropractic adjustment?

  19. Robert Page, LCSW, BCD says:

    I hope that more teenaged girls and boys find their way into relationships like shared by Dr. Ogden and her client. Letting the body speak and be heard is portrayed in this relationship in a manner where the client’s injured self, a wound to self-concept, begins to heal. Lovely. Thank you.

  20. Eleanor Fulton says:

    I like that she attended to the posture and worked with understanding why she was positioning her head in that way . Although I would have liked to know how she worked with the 8 year old- how she brought that 8 year old into the session and helped her access her- whether she did that using trance or how she did this.

  21. Susan says:

    I loved that the client was able to recognize how she was storing these memories of shame and unworthiness in her body. Tuning into how she stored these feelings in her stomach and demonstrating self-compassion was powerful.

  22. clare stone says:

    It’s a great outcome, and I totally get that the key to it was her body language….I’m not a practitioner, but I know a lot from reading and observing and I appreciate getting exposed to new therapies, etc.

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