Somatic Experiential Therapy: What is it and how can it treat addiction problems?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

somatic experiential therapy

There are so many methods out there for addiction treatment that it can be difficult to choose the right method for you. We believe that you must be committed to your health and wellness when starting any type of recovery program.

Therefore, it is important to select a program that you believe in, and will want to do. One relatively new treatment option for addiction is somatic experiential therapy. Learning more about this holistic treatment option can help you determine the right course of action for your needs.

The Somatic Model of Addiction

In the somatic model of addiction, those who suffer from addiction demonstrate flawed decision-making, which is “characterized by a tendency to choose the immediate reward at the expense of severe negative future consequences,” according to A. Verdejo-García, M. Pérez-García, and A. Bechar.

This is confirmed by scientific imaging studies on addicts’ brains, which show defects in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and neurotransmitter systems that affect decision-making.

Under this theory, the substance abuser will continue to use drugs or alcohol even when real world legal, health or interpersonal problems arise. By helping individuals to develop good decision-making skills, somatic experience therapy can help addicts heal from the inside out and arm them with the skills they need for lasting change.

What is Somatic Experiential Therapy?

Somatic experiential therapy was developed by Kent Fisher and Michelle Rappaport, two licensed Substance Abuse Counselors with over 20 years of experience each, according to their biographies on the Experiential Healing Center website.

Somatic experiential therapy (or SET) deals with the psychology and neurology behind emotions, awareness and decision making or self-regulation. It is informed by the principles of somatic psychology, which uses a developmental perspective to unpack ways that families and communities influence individual psyches, identities and expression, according to the California Institute of Integral Studies, a leader in the somatic psychology field.

By practicing skills learned in SET, individuals can prevent relapses after treatment and regain control over their lives.

Why Somatic Experiential Therapy Works for Addiction

Addiction counselors, licensed social workers, and other mental health professionals affirm that SET can be a valuable way to treat addiction. These practitioners like the way that SET empowers individuals with addiction problems to proceed through recovery at their own pace.

By helping clients to develop “a positive resource toolbox,” normalizing and destigmatizing the experience of addiction, and creating a sense of inner balance, somatic experiential therapy helps individuals to play an active role in their treatment and gain skills necessary to stay healthy upon leaving recovery.

Individuals with addiction problems often struggle to self-regulate or control their emotions, and may come to feel like they have lost control over their decisions or cannot stop using drugs or alcohol even when they want to.

Through SET, these individuals can develop emotional regulation techniques that keep impulses in check. They can work through past behavioral patterns, histories and traumas that may be at the root of the addiction.

SET allows patients to do this in a one-on-one or small group setting, where staff can adequately support patients through the healing process and teach emotional coping skills that empower individuals to regain control over their lives.

If you have questions about any of the information above, or want more information about how you can find a recovery program that starts you on the path to wellness, do not hesitate to contact us.


  1. Experiential Healing Center. Somatic Experiential Therapy Specialist Training, Kent D. Fisher Biography, and Michelle Rappaport Biography.,, and
  2. California Institute of Integral Studies. Somatic Psychology. 2014.
  3. Olssen, Michelle C. Mental Health Practitioners’ Views on Why Somatic Experiencing Works for Treating Trauma
  4. Emotion, Decision-Making and Substance Dependence: A Somatic-Marker Model of Addiction. A Verdejo-García, M Pérez-García, and A Bechara. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2006

We will work with most out of network PPO and POS policies

Call to verify your insurance benefits today!