Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a body first approach to dealing with the problematic (and oftentimes physical) symptoms of trauma. It helps individuals create new experiences in their bodies that contradict those of tension and overwhelming helplessness. Healing isn’t about reclaiming memories or changing thoughts and beliefs, it’s about exploring the sensations that lie underneath feelings and beliefs.
This is a body-centered approach to treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that, rather than focusing only on thoughts or emotions associated with a traumatic event, expands to include the natural bodily (somatic) responses.
SE offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight, or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states.
This is achieved by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, building their capacity for containment and resilience.
SE was developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Peter Levine when he explored how animals deal with threat and the effects of an overwhelmed nervous system. SE aims to help clients access, and then release, body memory of the traumatic event(s).