We all have them: Somatic Emotional Responses.

What are they? They are responses to a touch that release emotion.

This is different than muscle memory. In muscle memory, the muscle ‘remembers’ a particular movement that ended in injury and pain. An example of this would be whiplash. If you’ve been hit from behind in a car and your neck is jerked forward, you would get whiplash and have neck pain. The muscle remembers this jerk and movement and when it has another jolt, it will lock and hold you in an effort to protect you from the same kind of harm.

Our bodies can react in the same way about emotions. When we’ve faced tremendous fear or overwhelming joy, our bodies can hold that emotion in a particular spot or location. When touched, our bodies will remember that emotion held there and release it.


Often times, this goes unnoticed ~ you simply think you are having an emotion and of course, this is true. However, it can occur. Often times, it will during bodywork. Clients of mine have started giggling or crying on my table for ‘no apparent’ reason. This is a somatic emotional release/response (SER) some emotions will come up asking to be let go of.

When this happens during a massage or other bodywork session (indeed there are types of bodywork that have this as one of the goals of the session), you should embrace it. A compassionate and caring therapist does not mind. Your body is trying to tell you something. Listening to that can often lead to profound healing. Cool, Huh? Relaxation and emotional healing all in the same session!

Have you ever had an SER? How did you respond to it? Did you learn something about it?


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