Somatic Experiencing is a pioneering body-centred approach to releasing and healing trauma, shock and other stress disorders. The SE approach aims to safely release traumatic shock 'frozen' in the body at times of overwhelm, allowing for a natural transformation of the wounds we carry from these events. SE facilitates the completion of self-protective responses that arise in response to threat and when thwarted can remain bound in the body. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
Somatic Experiencing is the life’s work of American psychotherapist Dr. Peter A. Levine, combining the fruits of his study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics alongside over 45 years of successful clinical application. Dr Levine studied wild animals, observing that even though their lives are routinely threatened, they rarely suffer with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are able to release all the ‘fight, flight and freeze’ survival energy from their bodies, naturally and simply, when the threat is over. Although human beings have a similar nervous systems, we tend to not easily discharge this energy from our bodies. Peter became curious about what was happening in the human response to threat and how we could be supported to release the powerful energies of fight, flight and freeze.
Somatic Experiencing does not focus on talking about or revisiting the traumatic event but on listening to and becoming aware of our moment to moment experience of the body’s ‘felt sense’ or inner sensations and impulses. The work is gentle and empowering, paced to support integration and grounding. SE sessions are generally conducted sitting on chairs but may at times involve some movement exercises or touch. When touch and movement are used it is invitational, respecting boundaries and the sense of safety. As we rediscover our body and release energies bound in trauma from our body, our capacity for connection, our delight in life itself and our innate resilience deepens.