“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not have to be a life sentence.”
~ Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented modality developed by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. in the 1970s to help treat symptoms of trauma and other stress-related disorders. He was able to use his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, psychology, and indigenous healing practices to develop SE.
Dr. Levine developed SE from observing how wild animals recover and are not traumatized despite being constantly under threat of death from predation. They experience a physical release of their fight-of-flight energy by either shaking, trembling, or sometimes, running. In contrast, he found that humans often interrupt the natural sequence of processing a threat response despite sharing a similar biological response to stress as other mammals.
After seeing one of his clients named Nancy, who was suffering from PTSD enact the same physical release of trauma energy that wild animals do when he asked her to imagine a tiger chasing her when she was reliving a traumatic childhood memory, SE as a therapy was formed.
SE is an approach to help treat clients who have experienced a traumatic event or acute stress and are “stuck” in the fight, flight, or freeze responses. SE Practitioners (SEP) use clinical tools to help a client resolve these fixated physiological states by completing self-protective and defensive responses and releasing thwarted survival energy stored in the client’s body so that the nervous system can return to equilibrium.
Since SE is a “bottom-up” approach instead of a “top-down” approach (access memories or traumatic events using cognitive skills), clients are asked to track their bodily sensations and emotions. With time and space, clients can increase their tolerance of difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions related to the traumatic event.
How might clients benefit from SE?
- Feel empowered
- Increase energy and vitality
- Feel a general sense of security and safety
- Reduce physical and psychological discomfort
- Decrease physical pain, stress, emotional distress, and irritation
- Improve concentration, self-confidence, sleep, and physical well-being
- Experience a higher sense of oneself
- Increase awareness and tolerance of bodily sensations and emotions
- Increase resilience and hope
- Cultivate self-regulation, self-direction, and self-determination
- Increase flexibility, fluidity, and mobility
- A greater connection to their wholeness, well-being, and autonomy
- And more…
What SE can help with?
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Birth or Prenatal Trauma
- Breathing Issues
- Chronic Pain
- Developmental Trauma
- Digestive Issues
- Domestic Violence (DV)
- Eating Disorders
- Emotional Abuse
- Medical/Dental Surgeries or Experiences
- Military Trauma
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Natural Disasters
- Physical Abuse
- Physical Injuries (including concussions)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Racial Trauma
- Relational/Interpersonal Issues
- Sexual Abuse or Assault
- Sexual Issues
- Shock Trauma
- Substance Abuse
- Transgenerational Trauma
- And more…
To learn more about SE, please click these two links
To learn more about the origins of SE from Dr. Levine, please check out the below video:
If you want to learn how SE can benefit you, please contact me today!