Resolving Addiction with Somatic Experiencing Therapy



Healing Addiction with Somatic Experiencing Therapy
– Joel Decker, MFT, SEP


At the heart of addiction and craving is traumatic stress, the stuck, and hence repeating, energetic survival states of fight, flight or freeze. These easily triggered past residual signals of threat-associated flashbacks, bring into consciousness emotional pain too overwhelming to stay in dialogue with. These dissociative states make it hard to remain in the present moment, and send us looking for ways to avoid, deny, distract, or numb ourselves.

One of Somatic Experiencing Therapy’s view of addiction treatment is the orientation to the present moment, the sensorial experience of the present moment. Through orientation we can direct our attention to the sobering reality of the present moment through the senses, and away from the addictive flooding of difficult feelings, thoughts, or sensations left over from unresolved trauma.

Somatic Experiencing Therapy includes orientation as a way to create greater relaxation of the mind and body. Attending to the sensorial experience of our current surrounding, we are better able to assess the safety that is. Building up our capacity for assessing current safety protects us from the repeating hypervigilance resulting from traumatic memory, the apex of the highly charged traumatic event. The sometimes incredibly subtle triggers of repeating flashback material from traumatic experience is one of the elements that underlies addiction and compulsive behaviors. With orientation and careful guidance around the apex we develop ever greater awareness to the safety, wholeness, and sobering relaxation available in the present moment, increasing our capacity to put in perspective the non-present reality of emotional pain from the past.

Somatic Experiencing Therapy helps us to recognize and gain distance from our own unique reaction patterns under stress, discover kind ways of settling internal distress, creating a lasting and ever increasing sense of balance, ease, and internal resource to manage daily stress without triggers of extreme stress and the resulting survival evoked flashbacks of extreme stress states.

At the heart of resolving addiction is traumatic stress, the stuck, and hence repeating, survival states of fight, flight or freeze. These easily triggered, threat-associated signals bring into consciousness emotional pain too overwhelming to stay in contact with. This makes it hard to remain embodied in the present moment, and sends us looking for ways to avoid, deny, distract, or numb ourselves.

Resolving Addiction through Somatic Experience

Somatic Experiencing views addiction treatment as the guided orientation back into the present moment, building the capacity for spontaneous sensorial experiences of the body. Through orientation we can direct our attention to the sobering reality of the present moment through the senses, and away from the addictive flooding of difficult feelings, thoughts, or sensations left over from unresolved trauma.

Somatic Experiencing includes orientation as a way to create greater relaxation of the mind and body. Attending to the physical experience of our current surrounding, we are better able to assess current safety, and settle into emotional regulation, hence resolving addiction. Building up our capacity for assessing current safety protects us from the cycle of traumatic memory. The sometimes incredibly subtle triggers of repeating flashback material from traumatic experience is one of the elements that underlies addiction and compulsive behaviors. With orientation and careful guidance through the emotional pain we develop ever greater awareness to the safety and sobering relaxation available in the present moment, increasing our capacity to put in perspective the non-present reality of emotional pain from the past.

Deepening our awareness through Somatic Experience helps us to recognize and gain distance from our own unique reaction patterns under stress, resolving addiction by discovering new ways of settling internal distress. Increasing a sense of balance and ease and managing daily stress without the trigger-evoked flashbacks, is a successful treatment in resolving addiction.

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Contact Joel: 510-229-9765 Oakland Office

  
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