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Ask the Expert: Somatic Awareness

Jennifer Zach, cancer survivor, coach, somatics practitioner, and author of “Somatic Awareness: Leading with Body Intelligence”, discusses somatic awareness, how it can benefit patients and much more.

What is somatic awareness?

Somatic awareness in the context of cancer patients refers to an individual’s heightened awareness and understanding of bodily sensations. It involves being attuned to physical cues, such as pain, discomfort, fatigue, changes in appetite, or the effects of treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.

How can somatic awareness benefit cancer patients?

Somatic awareness supports patients in navigating their cancer journey with a deeper understanding and connection to their bodies by noticing changes, being able to communicate those changes to their healthcare providers, better managing and coping with the physical and emotional challenges of cancer treatment, and fostering a sense of empowerment and control over their health by actively engaging with their body’s signals and taking proactive steps toward self-care.

What does a typical class or session look like?

In a typical class, we cover the basics of somatic awareness, understanding the human threat response, and introduce the ‘Three N’s’ practice: Notice, Name, Navigate. Individual sessions start with a virtual consultation preview. For those seeking regular, one-on-one support, ongoing sessions delve deeper into somatic strategy development, integrative learning, recommended resources, and unlimited email support.

Can patients practice these techniques at home too?

Yes. Cancer patients can incorporate somatic awareness practices into their daily routine at home and anywhere else to better understand their body’s signals and manage their well-being. No matter where they’re at, these practices can empower cancer patients to become more attuned to their bodies, reduce stress, and improve their overall quality of life over the cancer journey.

What would you say to someone who may be hesitant to try somatic awareness?

It’s completely understandable to be hesitant about trying something new, especially when you are going through such a major life change right now. Somatic awareness isn’t about pushing yourself—it’s about providing yourself with another tool that could potentially make this journey a bit easier.

What is your goal when working with patients at the Community Cancer Center?

When working with patients, my goal is to offer my experience with somatic awareness in navigating life with a cancer diagnosis. I aim to provide support and education, empowering fellow patients to explore somatic awareness for greater peace, hope, and well-being. By encouraging tuning into their bodies, I aspire to help people turn their fear into courage and foster an internal emotional state that supports healing and well-being throughout their cancer journey.

Jennifer Zach

Jennifer Zach is the owner of Zach Coaching, LLC., which she founded in 2009. She prides herself on patience, adaptability, creative thinking skills and a passion for helping others. She is excited to begin working with cancer patients at the Nassif Community Cancer Center and support them on their cancer journey.


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