What is Somatic Experience Therapy?

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What is Somatic Experience Therapy?

Somatic experience therapy (SE therapy) is a type of body psychotherapy designed by Peter Levine to help those dealing with trauma resolve symptoms and relieve chronic stress. Drawing upon research in stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience as well as indigenous healing practices, SE therapy has been developed with this in mind.

Trauma often leaves us with repressed feelings that remain trapped within the body, where they can continue to cause harm long after we forget about them. These emotions may cause anxiety, depression, chronic tension and pain as well as poor relationships and lifestyle choices.

Many trauma survivors struggle to recognize the cause of their symptoms. Unspoken emotions that are deeply embedded can be difficult to address, as they cannot be processed by the brain and may not be accessible through conscious thought or verbal communication.

A therapist trained in somatic trauma therapy can assist you in recognizing and working through the emotional and physical effects of a traumatic event or series of events. They may also teach you ways to cope with symptoms and stressors so they don’t continue to control your life anymore.

SE differs from other forms of trauma treatment in that it doesn’t necessitate reliving the event or discussing it extensively. Instead, clients learn to regulate their own arousal levels through body awareness and relaxation techniques.

Therapists assist their client in gradually and safely confronting traumatic stressors. This process, known as titration and pendulation, is analogous to chemical reactions; titration refers to the release of compressed survival energy while pendulation describes the back-and-forth between regulated parts of the body and dysregulated ones.

These methods are employed in cycles, like a chemical reaction. The client is guided through normal internal sensations – contraction/expansion, pleasure/pain, warmth/cold – at levels they can tolerate without becoming overwhelmed. The therapist’s aim is to gradually build clients’ capacity to move safely between these states while rewiring their nervous systems.

This practice is used to treat a range of conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, grief, panic attacks and other mental health concerns. It’s an effective yet gentle approach that helps patients heal and build resilience.

Somatic Experiencing Practitioners are educated in the SE(r) model and specialize in bottom-up somatic processing to heal their clients’ minds and bodies. Many have backgrounds in other therapies like CBT, Psychiatry, Craniosacral Therapy, Bodywork or Equine Therapy which allows them to incorporate SE into their other healing modalities for a comprehensive therapy experience for clients.

They may also have an intimate understanding of a client’s spirit and soul, which is beneficial during somatic sessions. These practitioners possess an immense respect for human psychology and use their own consciousness, mindfulness, and loving energy to promote healing.

Somatic experiences are considered an innate part of human existence and can be triggered by trauma such as death, serious accident or violent assault. These incidents may affect someone’s mood, energy level and sleep pattern; additionally they have a detrimental effect on one’s immune system which leads to problems with digestion and reproduction.

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