Somatic Experiencing®

What is Somatic Experiencing (SE)®?

 

Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a body-oriented method to discharge traumatic stress energy and bring the nervous system into a state of balance, regulation, and wellness. Developed by renowned trauma researcher Dr. Peter Levine, SE has over 45 years of successful clinical application in the treatment of shock and developmental trauma. SE is a holistic and multidisciplinary approach that draws wisdom and techniques from stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics. It is currently taught throughout the world as an effective method for resolving symptoms of traumatic stress.

  

SE addresses the root cause of trauma symptoms by facilitating the resolution of self-protective, survival-oriented stress impulses that have been thwarted and thus bound in the body, leading to dysregulation of the nervous system and mental, emotional, and/or physical health concerns. This release of “stuck” traumatic energy is facilitated by gently guiding clients to develop increasing awareness of and tolerance for bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.

 

In these 75-minute sessions, clients are supported along their journey to connect with their physical and sensory experience, release traumatic stress, find relief from symptoms, and strengthen their innate abilities to self-regulate emotions, be present, and feel true inner peace and joy. SE is not talk therapy; it is a method that works directly with the nervous system to support a lasting state of balance and resilience.

 

What symptoms can SE relieve?

 

SE can be an effective methodology to support recovery from a variety of symptoms of trauma. Some of these include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Anxiety/hyper-arousal

  • Depression

  • Chronic pain

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Emotional and behavioral concerns

Trauma symptoms may result from a wide variety of experiences such as accidents, invasive medical or dental procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth or developmental trauma, or the chronic stressors of ongoing fear, conflict, or being underprivileged. Trauma symptoms may be caused by acute stress from a perceived or actual threat to one’s life, or be the end product of cumulative stress. 

Images borrowed from www.traumahealing.org

How is Somatic Experiencing® different from other therapeutic modalities?
 

  • SE is not talk therapy. SE involves focused awareness on your present-moment, physical and sensory experience. The aim is to help you access the body’s memory of the event, not the story. We rarely spend a lot of time talking about what happened.

  • I am not a licensed mental health clinician. As a yoga teacher and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in training, I provide both classical Somatic Experiencing sessions (involving talking and sensing the body), as well as sessions that integrate Somatic Experiencing with trauma-informed yoga poses and breathing exercises.

  • Talk therapy primarily engages the "thinking brain" (neocortex) and the "emotional brain" (limbic system); SE primarily affects the reptilian/survival-oriented brain (brainstem), which rules our involuntary nervous system and instinctual responses.

  • SE offers a gentle approach to treating trauma. Rather than reliving or re-enacting the trauma, SE supports you to develop body awareness and renegotiate the way your nervous system responds to certain triggers and experiences.

  • Each SE session is specific to your present-moment state of being, and is ultimately guided by your bodily sensations and the activity of your nervous system. Thus, SE is experienced as your own journey of self-empowered healing, rather than someone else "healing you."

  • Every client is different. Based on her/his unique experience, some clients may feel they have resolution after just a few SE sessions; others may wish to experience SE for many weeks or months in support of their healing process.

 

Learn more about Somatic Experiencing® at www.traumahealing.org

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