What is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is the life’s work of Peter Levine. SE integrates both mind and body to release trauma and stress and restore resiliency and safety to the nervous system. SE can help with shock trauma, emotional trauma as well as chronic stress. Unlike other modalities used to treat trauma, SE is a gentle approach. It does not necessarily require you to retell the story or expose yourself over and over again to traumatic memories or images.
Levine developed his method based on the observation that animals in the wild are not traumatized though they are constantly under threat. We as humans also know how to bounce back from trauma — it’s in our nature. When given the space and time to follow the body memory of the event (not necessarily the story), we can become aware of where in the threat cycle (fight, flight, freeze) our defenses were thwarted, giving us the opportunity to complete our response. This therapy also provides a pathway to heal from family of origin dysfunction or neglect.
What to Expect in a Somatic Experiencing Session
In an SE session, we will first work on creating safety and putting you in charge of deciding how much to share or feel. I might slow you down as you talk to give you an opportunity to notice your emotions or check in with your body to see what’s happening in your nervous system. The goal is to touch into the trauma and then come back to resources available in the present moment. In this way I can help you slowly expand your window of tolerance for more difficult emotions and sensations, and to integrate them. As you learn to become an observer of your emotions, you begin to regulate them better. You have the opportunity to truly know yourself, to become more connected with your inner wisdom and intuition.