Somatic Experiencing® is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application.
Dr. Levine's explorations into how animals deal with threat led to the development of Somatic Experiencing® (SE), which is highly effective in dealing with the effects of overwhelm on the nervous system.
The SE approach facilitates the organic release of traumatic shock and re-organisation, which are key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
The SE way of working is subtle, gentle, and is one of only a few trauma therapies which takes into account the client's threshold so as not to cause overwhelm or re-traumatisation.
SE facilitates the completion of self-protective responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is done by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
- SE employs awareness of body sensations 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 energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.
- SE “titrates” experience (breaks down into small, incremental steps), rather than evoking catharsis – which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.
SE is supported by scientific research. The method is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatised. Animals in the wild regulate and discharge high levels of energy arousal, provding them with a built-in “immunity” to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly “charged” life-threatening experiences. Humans, on the other hand, are readily overwhelmed and often subject to the traumatic symptoms of hyper arousal, shutdown and dysregulation.