Somatic Experiencing is a form of somatic psychotherapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of traumatic stress through the resourcing of the body’s own organic healing properties. Originally developed by Dr. Peter Levine over the past 45 years, S.E. has progressively become more widely applied and studied by many researchers and practitioners.
SE is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild utilize innate mechanisms to regulate and deactivate the high levels of autonomic energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors. These mechanisms provide animals with a built-in “immunity’’ to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly ‘’charged’’ life-threatening experiences.
-SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people “renegotiate” and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.
-SE’s guidance of the bodily “felt sense,” allows the highly aroused survival energy within the nervous system to be safely experienced and gradually deactivated.
-SE “titrates” experience (breaks down into small, incremental steps), rather than evoking catharsis – which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.
SE can result in a number of benefits to you, such as relief of traumatic stress symptoms, increased resiliency, and resourcefulness. Like any other treatment it may also have unintended negative side effects, such as sleep disturbances, frightening memories, or unfamiliar and uncomfortable body sensations. Such reactions are not uncommon and can be attended to in the course of our work together.
It is important that you are aware that there are other forms of body-oriented and somatic psychotherapy modalities that may also be helpful to you, such as EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, or Bodynamics. Obviously, there are also many non-somatic focused forms of psychotherapy and counseling that you can choose from. My own education and training in SE includes completion of training as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and as an assistant in Somatic Experiencing trainings of future therapists, and formal psychology training as a licensed clinical psychologist, PSY#28945.
For more information about SE please note the following references:
Levine, P. and Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma : The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Kline, M. and Levine, P. (2007). Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
For further references and information online about SE go to http://www.traumahealing.com