• What is Somatic Experiencing®?
Somatic Experiencing is a body-centered approach to emotional healing and the resolution of trauma. Developed by Dr. Peter Levine over the past 40 years, Somatic Experiencing offers a safe, gradual way to help trauma survivors develop their own natural ability to eliminate the excess energy caused by overwhelming events.
• How does it works?
Somatic Experiencing is a naturalistic way to assist in the healing of trauma. SE is based on 40 years of research and experience by Dr. Peter Levine and the understanding that animals in the wild, though constantly threatened by predators, are rarely traumatized. These animals, he noted, had built-in mechanisms that allowed them to release high amounts of energy after they were chased, injured or nearly killed and then to return to normal. Dr. Levine concluded thatthe same regulatory process exists within human animals. SE is a system of techniques that support people to access this process that aids in recovery from traumatic events.
Although humans have virtually the same instinctive self-regulating mechanisms as animals, we often inhibit these processes out of embarrassment or shame, decreasing our own capacity to heal. When we fail to discharge the high levels of arousal associated with survival these massive energies stay trapped in our neuromuscular and central nervous system and wreak havoc on our bodies and our minds. It is this trapped energy that develops into a whole constellation of post-traumatic symptoms including pain, anxiety, anger, depression, intrusive thoughts and imagery, and cognitive impairments. Somatic Experiencing provides the steps needed to reconnect individuals with the innate wisdom of their bodies. This approach uses education about and awareness of your body sensations as a primary tool.
• What does a session look like?
-The setting for a Somatic session would look very much like traditional talk therapy… seated in comfy chairs or on a couch perhaps with a tea, however, that is where the similarity ends. During your SE session the conversation will be around encouraging you to engage in focused awareness of your bodily sensations to discover innate self-regulation and healing. At times; if appropriate and agreed upon by you and your practitioner; touch may be used to guide, support and contain your experience of your body.
• Who would benefit from Somatic Experiencing®?
SE can benefit anyone who has experienced something overwhelming.
This can include but is not limited to:
• adults with a history of childhood abuse
• long periods of immobility due to injury or casting
• motor vehicle accidents
• injury due to many causes
• major overwhelming life changes
• preparation for surgical procedures
• recovery from surgical procedures
• dental procedures
• military experience and exposure to natural disasters.
In general, SE is a powerful antidote to those dealing with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
SE would probably not benefit those with severe psychotic disorders.
If you are currently seeing another therapist to address other concerns and wish to incorporate SE into your healing process, discuss this need with your therapist. SE therapy for trauma issues can be used with other approaches.
What are the benefits of Somatic Experiencing?
Eliminate or significantly reduce the symptoms of trauma:
• Improve sleep, digestion and concentration
Decrease frequency and intensity of nightmares and flashbacks
• Decrease anxiety, angry outbursts and depression
• Ease physical discomforts associated with the traumatic event
• Decrease need to feel on-guard
• Decrease muscle tension
Increase of energy
…All of the above will then increase physical health and wellness
Improve sense of connection to others:
• Decrease isolation or detachment from others
• Improve sense of belonging
• Increase sense of feeling alive and “real”
• Increase capacity to feel confident and capable
Deepen sense of connection to the spiritual world