Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) is the life work of Dr. Peter Levine. It is a naturalistic approach for resolving and healing the symptoms of trauma based on his study of animals in the wild, and the understanding that although their lives are routinely threatened they are rarely traumatized.
In response to threat, all mammals mobilize high levels of energy during the survival strategies of fight, flight, freeze and collapse. Animals in the wild regulate and discharge this energy successfully resulting in a return to healthy functioning.
However in human beings the rational part of our brain can override this natural process causing us to experience shame, judgments and fear, so that our capacity to self-regulate is thwarted. The failure to restore balance in the human body can result in the debilitating symptoms of trauma in which cardiac, digestive, respiratory and immune system function can be seriously affected.
The good news is that Somatic Experiencing can help in your recovery by helping to gently release the thwarted survival energy that has become ‘stuck’ in your nervous system. In Somatic Experiencing we educate about how the body deals with stress and trauma, build self-awareness of the physical body, thoughts and emotions, use grounding techniques, breath and resourcing to help you feel safe, and gentle ‘tracking’ of the energy release as experienced through the body’s sensations. Safe and respectful supportive touch may sometimes be used to help facilitate the Somatic Experiencing process.