Release stress and trauma "stuck" in the body
Somatic Experiencing helps you restore resilience and promotes self healing by increasing body awareness, allowing access to the involuntary way the body holds traumatic memory, and letting the body experience in the present what it was unable to successfully do in the past. We think we experience things in our head but we don't, we feel them in our body. Our bodies tell the truth, our head tell stories, and as much as we may try, we can't always "think" our way out.
Peter Levine, creator of Somatic Experience, created this therapy by combining his knowledge of psychology, evolution, animal instinct, mammalian physiology, the human brain and indigenous healing practices. His work is the result of 45 years of successful clinical application and is practiced in leading treatment centers and hospitals specializing in trauma and PTSD. He started by asking,
"How do animals in the wild, who are subjected to constant threat to their survival, manage to avoid post-traumatic stress, yet humans who have the same primitive survival response develop trauma symptoms that persist long after the threat is over?"
The answer is found in our most primitive and instinctual survival defense responses.
Symptoms of Trauma
Frequent cry spells
Inability to focus in career or
issues related to money
People describe you as having a "short-fuse"
In times of stress
At the first sign of threat to our physical or emotional safety, whether during an argument or traumatic life event, we instinctually prepare for defense. We brace, our muscles contract, our breathing slows down. The frontal lobes of our brain, which control our ability to reason and take perspective, shut down, as our hindbrain, or "reptilian brain" takes over. As tension escalates, we move into "survival mode"; our blood flows from our brain to our extremities, the heart pounds faster, pupils dilate and our mouth dries up. Tremendous energy to fight or run is activated, and if we determine escape is impossible, we freeze.
When an animal's survival defenses are activated, as they are done routinely, they encounter this same experience in the face of threat. The difference is they are able to complete the survival cycle. The energy created is discharged and released through action.
A bear fights. A gazelle runs. A possum freezes.
Each returns to a regulated state by respectably
shaking, trembling, pronking or even resting until their activation energy is released.
Humans react the same but because of cognitive functioning, we are quick to override our impulses and our activation energy of running away or standing up
for ourselves is thwarted.
Over time, this "stuck" energy causes us to detach from our greatest source of wisdom; our body and our instincts.
We lose the ability to self-regulate, we involuntarily perceive threats where they don't exist or fall into a state of freeze, helplessness and collapse.
How is Somatic Experiencing different from other therapies?
SE Therapy is distinct from other therapies through its focus on the connection between mind, body and psyche to restore resilience in the nervous system and promote self-healing of trauma.
SE treats shock trauma;
car accidents, falls, invasive medical procedures or surgeries, illness or injury, natural disasters, violent attacks and war
SE treats developmental trauma;
physical, sexual or emotional abuse, overwhelming life experiences, generational and social trauma, chronic fear and/or anxiety, as seen from bullying or emotional cruelty
SE works with activation occurring in the present, therefore, the retelling of traumatic events is not only unnecessary, but avoided.
In a Somatic Experiencing Session
A REGULATED NERVOUS SYSTEM ALLOWS
Emotional stability and presence
A sense of openness and curiosity
The ability to relax without shutting down
Confidence in our inner wisdom and personal choices
Healthy boundaries and communication
A sense of connectivity with others and ourselves
Confidence and trust within ourselves
A sense of calm and flow
In a SE session
You will be guided to notice how your body responds to activation energy, grounding exercises, and settling responses. The resources we identify become the foundation you will use to explore the range of emotions that show up.
Gentle pendulation between a sympathetic and parasympathetic state allows your nervous system to flow more freely. You move from constriction to expansion, from activation to settling. Sensations, imagery, behaviors, emotion and meaning help you slow down, allowing you to recognize the wisdom in your senses.
By accessing the most primitive part of your brain, the "reptilian" brain, you will complete long held emotions that remain incomplete. You are slowly guided out of freeze and into a healthy understanding of the fight/flight response, boundaries and social engagement.
When combined with talk therapy, somatic work helps you experience therapy at a deeper level of knowing, resulting in greater inner resilience, self-regulation, and wellness.