Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-centered approach to healing symptoms of stress and trauma. SE is the life’s work of Dr. Peter Levine, combining his insights from stress physiology, psychology, biology, indigenous healing practices and neuroscience.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) as a bottom-up approach to healing, in contrast to top-down approaches such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
How does Somatic Experiencing work and how can it help?
The main premise of a body centered modality like SE is that traumatic stress is stored within the body and that our bodies, equipped with the autonomous nervous system, possess an innate ability to regulate and heal.
Our bodies hold on to uncompleted trauma responses which can manifest as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, short attention spans, anger outbursts, addictions, feeling numb or “not like ourselves”, and so on. The underlying cause of those symptoms is a dysregulated, “traumatized” nervous system which is literally stuck in fight, flight, freeze responses.
Healing can take place as the nervous system begins to organize the chaos and to restore balance, in short: to regulate.
A more regulated nervous system enhances our resilience and increases our ability to be fully present and to be actively engaged in our lives and relationships.
Question a therapist using the SE approach might ask you are: “As you talk about this, what are you noticing in your body?” and/or “Can you stay with that sensation?” and/or “As you notice this sensation, what happens next?”
There is current research on the application of SE in the treatment of PTSD, back pain and depression/somatization. SE can be an effective therapeutic approach to address any of the many reasons a person might seek therapy. It can be applied in individual as well as couple sessions.
We welcome you to call or email us to ask more questions or to book an initial appointment with one of our therapists who practice SE.