Somatic Experiencing (SE™) is a body-based (bottom up) modality for healing trauma and other stress disorders. It is based on a multidisciplinary intersection of physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience and medical biophysics. SE has been clinically applied for more than four decades. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter Levine.
Dr Levine’s studies were based on the fascination about why prey animals in the wild who are under constant threat, are rarely traumatised, while humans are readily overwhelmed and traumatised. He realised that the animal’s instinctive survival physiology allows their bodies to discharge the fight/flight/freeze energy, by involuntary trembling and shaking and some deep breaths after a life -threatening event. This process resets their nervous system, restoring equilibrium to their bodies.
In humans the rational mind (neo-cortex) has learned to override this primitive adaptive response and we become traumatised as a result. Peter Levine realised that these same instincts and related survival-based brain systems and nervous system activation, that are involved in forming trauma symptoms, can be enlisted in the transformation and healing of trauma. SE allows the client to connect with this innate wisdom of the body’s healing ability. This happens through conscious awareness of the “felt sense”, the language of the nervous system.
Instead of just talking about the trauma, SE therapists are skilled in guiding clients to track the physical sensations, feelings, images and thoughts related to the traumatic memories. This allows the body to discharge the “trapped” traumatic energy in a safe way. The result is the ability to self-regulate and freedom from symptoms.
SE provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others.