What Is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-awareness approach to treating trauma. This approach is especially effective for the treatment of psychological and physical symptoms brought on by shock trauma such as a natural disaster, violence, a car accident, etc. SE can also be a very helpful adjunct healing tool for developmental traumas such as abandonment, loss, neglect, and emotional abuse. Somatic Experiencing theory and techniques are the result of over 40 years of observation, research, and hands-on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Dr. Levine theorizes that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma. SE restores self-regulation and returns a sense of aliveness, relaxation, and wholeness to traumatized individuals who have had these sacred gifts taken away.

SE work primarily involves observing and tracking sensations in the body while understanding how the nervous system works to activate and then calm our most basic survival instincts: fight, flight, and freeze. When we are unable to successfully complete a fight or flight response to a threatening situation we will often become symptomatic. Some of the symptoms you might be experiencing in relation to traumatic events and traumtic history are anxiety and panic attacks, depression, chronic pain symptoms such as migraines, gastrointestinal difficulties, addictions, sleep disorders, avoidance of certain situations, irritability, etc.

When our nervous systems are balanced and our activation is low we are able to feel open, curious, embodied, available for connection, resilient, competent, relaxed yet alert, appropriately reactive, present, and emotionally stable.