Unlocking Healing: Understanding Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approach in Therapy

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Do you find yourself feeling stuck, despite attending talk therapy for many years and understanding cognitively what has happened in the past? Do traumas or triggers still set you off? Or perhaps, you are aware of the different sensations in your body but don’t know their meaning?

The healing process is complex and multifaceted, involving both cognitive and somatic (body-based) approaches. Depending on where you are in your journey, some may benefit from a top-down approach, while others may need a bottom-up process or a combination of both.

So, what are top-down and bottom-up processing? These approaches refer to different parts of your brain.

Understanding Top-Down Processing: Top-down processing involves engaging the neocortex, the thinking brain, in therapeutic interventions. It focuses on cognitive processing, changing thought patterns, decision-making, communication, and problem-solving. Individuals who benefit from top-down therapy may be aware of somatic responses but lack a framework to understand them. They may know how their body responds to triggers but struggle to process and work through them cognitively.

Exploring Bottom-Up Processing: In contrast, bottom-up processing engages the mid and lower brainstem areas, emphasizing whole-body sensing and extracting sensations and experiences from the environment. This approach involves processing emotions, memories, and felt senses, and connecting with the wisdom of the body. Individuals who benefit from bottom-up therapy may have a deep understanding of their past traumas and triggers, but find that their body continues to hold unresolved tensions or charges. They may also experience disconnection or numbness towards stressors in their lives.

At Soma Haus, our treatments focus on the interplay between these two processing methods. Our Foundational Treatments for your body and mind help create a solid framework or starting point for your healing journey. Our Nourish Treatments, Cold Plunge, Saunas, and classes invite a bottom-up process to help you connect deeply with your body’s sensations.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to begin your healing journey, our nervous system consultation is a good starting point. Our assessments delve into your past experiences, current challenges, and recurring patterns. Through this consultation, you will gain deeper insight into your needs and discover self-care tools to incorporate into your life.