What is Somatic
The Somatic Experiencing (SE) method is a short-term naturalistic approach that focuses on resolving trauma-related issues.
Help for trauma survivors.
“The Somatic Experiencing® (SE) method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.” - Taumahealing.org
"Until the person has dealt with and sufficiently resolved the physiological shock, they can't deal with the emotions."
Dr. Peter A. Levine
Somatic Experiencing offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, education, and others.
The results from Somatic Experiencing therapy include relief from shame, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, hyper-vigilance, depression, habits and addictions, patterns and vicious cycles, self-sabotage, syndromes and dissociative behaviors. It brings on a sense of vibrancy and reawakens feelings of centeredness, boundaries, empowerment, being “in the moment”, safety, and joyfulness.
How is it Different?
We can become traumatized when we are pre-verbal, precognitive, and pre-conceptual. If we can become traumatized before we have the capacity for thought, words, language, and perception, then how can the wound of trauma be psychological in nature? There is a psychological component, however, but it is has more to do with how, in hindsight, we have compartmentalized, suppressed or defended ourselves against the pain and fear of the original wounding experience.
Unlike traditional talk therapy and other cognitive modalities, the focus is on the biology rather than the biography. Talk therapy works more with the higher brain (cognitive rational mind), while somatic experiencing (SE) therapy focuses on the lower brain (animal survival instinct) responses, the autonomic nervous system, and the “felt” sense.
Depersonalization is a physiological phenomenon where individuals feel detached from their sensory experiences, their sense of self, or their personal experiences. Somatic Experiencing can offer significant relief for these symptoms.
A Typical Somatic Experiencing Session
A Somatic Experiencing session is similar to traditional “talk” therapy (for lack of a better term). However, Somatic Experiencing isn't a fixed formula or equation—it's a journey of self-discovery. We've all experienced wounds, but not all of these have resulted in trauma. Unresolved traumatic events from the past, though, can increase the likelihood of future traumatization.
A skilled Somatic Experiencing Practitioner will help you to track current re-enactments and patterns back to their original wound, the beliefs that were formed around that wounding experiencing and to the defense structures, coping mechanisms and survival strategies that were put in place to protect you from future similar threats. Through focusing more on what you feel than on what you think about the event, the nervous system is enabled to discharge and reorganize and return to resilience.
Much time and attention are devoted to resourcing the client (helping them feel better). We avoid cathartic delving into past events, as this can potentially re-traumatize and further embed trauma into the system.
In our increasingly digital world, Emotional Fitness has become more vital than ever for the quality of our lives. It continues to be the most reliable indicator of success and happiness. This is because our interaction with the world is primarily emotional, not cognitive. Most of our significant decisions are based on our feelings, not our thoughts.