Somatic Experiencing is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine and supported by the latest neuropsychological research. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild naturally access innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of 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 or overwhelming experiences.
Humans have all of the same innate mechanisms that animals do. The difference with humans is that we have the capacity, due to our “higher brain” functions, to override the discharging mechanisms, and thus unintentionally prevent the return to homeostasis and balance. The interventions employed by SE therapists work to help the client access these regulatory mechanisms that have been unconsciously shut down in the aftermath of a traumatic event or events.
Some of the techniques the therapists use include:
- Teaching the client to access awareness of body sensations to help “renegotiate” and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.
- Guiding clients through the bodily “felt sense,” and it’s internal logic, which allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.
- Using touch in support of the renegotiation process.
- “Titrating” experience–or breaking it down into small, incremental steps–rather than evoking catharsis. Catharsis is now thought to overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism, rather than heal them.
SE can result in a number of benefits to you, such as relief of traumatic stress symptoms, increased physiological and psychological resiliency, and resourcefulness.
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