What is Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing® is a naturalistic, body-awareness approach to the treatment of trauma, originating through many years of observation, research, and the hands-on clinical development of Dr.Peter Levine.

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing, originating from the work of Peter Levine, restores the body’s innate capacity for self-regulation. To work with the body in this way client’s are taught to track internal and external states, moving awareness from internal sensations and emotions, to external orientation in the here and now. Moving awareness in this way helps to identify internal resources, experiences of joy, calmness, strength, and vibrancy. The ability to move awareness from perhaps chaotic internal states to the orientation of safety, within the immediate office environment, builds trust in the process of entering into past traumatic impressions without becoming overwhelmed.

What is Somatic Experiencing? It works to calm and retrain stress sensitization, a symptom of trauma most responsible for emotional triggers, anxiety, and the overwhelm leading to depression. In this way, Somatic Experiencing is different from Psychotherapy, as it asks only for manageable pieces of the personal story, giving the body time to manage, resolve, and integrate activating material. This careful and respectful titration of traumatic material creates a sense of mastery, competence, hope, and enthusiasm for the process, while discharging accumulative stress patterns trapped in a dissociative state of overwhelm. Doing this a little bit at a time, gives the body a deep sense of rest and wellness, resiliency, and vitality.

In my work as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, I may bring your attention to include sensations in the body. As human animals we carry the same biological inheritance as animals in the wild, which respond to trauma through instinctual strategies such as flight, fight, or freeze. By carefully drawing our attention to further explore the subtle aspects of this somatic inheritance, we build enough resilience and somatic presence to stay attuned to the present moment. All the while, we are processing through past traumatic impressions, discharging traumatic stress, and returning to wholeness.

With the rapid spread of awareness around the efficacy of Somatic Experiencing therapy in successfully resolving symptoms of chronic stress, PTSD and trauma, Gina Ross is spearheading an effort to significantly spread SE through the educational, military, mental health, social services, medical, government and NGO agencies. View her Somatic Experiencing Research Appeal here.

More on Somatic Experiencing
In “Trauma is Treated in the Body, Not the Mind” Dr. Peter Levine writes, ‘Somatic Experiencing came about through watching animals in the wilderness miraculously rebound unscathed from multiple traumas in their daily scramble to survive…Wild animals execute biological, subconscious actions that prepare them to meet the threat in defensive ways…Somatic Experiencing views trauma as this incomplete biological execution; trauma as a highly activated incomplete physiological response to threat. Completing these biological executions, in finding safety from threat, the body then releases this “survival” energy through shaking and trembling—returning to homeostasis and the body’s normal somatic functioning…view article.

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