Somatic Experiencing (SE), developed by Dr. Peter Levine, is a body-oriented approach to resolving the symptoms of trauma and chronic stress. Dr. Levine’s approach has been used effectively worldwide for over three decades.
Trauma: Source and Symptoms
Sources of trauma are wide-ranging, including accidents; falls; surgeries; injuries; physical assault; rape; emotional, physical or sexual abuse; loss of a loved one; childhood neglect or abuse; bullying; difficult births; high fever; serious illness; natural disasters; violence; and war. This is not an exhaustive list. Trauma in fact can be experienced from a perceived threat to one’s safety or well-being regardless of the incident or lack of one. Acute stress is enough in itself to bring on traumatic symptoms. Certainly cumulative stress over time has the power to produce trauma as its end result.
Trauma occurs when the highly activated energy of our body’s survival response (fight, flight or freeze) is unable to complete and discharge in the aftermath of a life- threatening or overwhelming experience. The symptoms of trauma are a result of this highly charged energy remaining “frozen” or stuck as an unresolved memory in the neuro-muscular systems of the body.
The symptoms of unresolved trauma can include:
- Panic or anxiety (including panic attacks)
- Chronic pain of all kinds
- Sleep disorders
- Chronic tension
- Addictions of all kinds
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- And many others
What You Can Expect in a Somatic Experiencing Session
Somatic Experiencing utilizes the awareness of body sensations. Tracking the rhythmic cycles of the nervous system, SE is able to assist in gently and slowly discharging the energy of trauma in a gradual and supportive way.
The result is that clients are able to “re-negotiate” their trauma in present time and thaw the “frozen” or bound energy that was the underlying cause of their symptoms. Somatic Experiencing empowers clients to develop their own capacity for self-regulation. The result is a return to a greater sense of aliveness, relaxation, and resiliency.