Somatic Experiencing

Among the growing number of modalities designated as body psychotherapy, the Somatic Experiencing® model is a powerful therapy for the resolution of stress and trauma because it addresses the mental and physiological dimensions of an issue at the same time. Developed in the 1970’s by Peter Levine, it is a naturalistic approach, based on the observation that prey animals in the wild can often “shake off” trauma and go on with life following serious threat. This led to the idea that “trauma is in the nervous system – not in the event.”*

How it Works

The protocols of Somatic Experiencing allow you to sense nervous system arousal and to feel the relationship between it and its corresponding mental or emotional states.

The physiological symptoms of trauma stored in the body are first felt as sensations and then gradually felt as more complex, whole body reactions to various stimulating events. As you learn to separate these reactions from events or memories of events (by holding awareness of the nervous system in your mind) you begin to regain control of the body. These automatic reaction states will start to dissolve.

Consistent with Medical Science

Recent brain research, as well as decades of study of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) demonstrate that the human stress response is organized in the “lower” limbic and brain stem structures. Centers in these areas of the brain control the autonomic (automatic) nervous system, which is the system in the body responsible for the fight/flight/freeze response. This system is a major target of Somatic Experiencing.

*A complete description of Somatic Experiencing can be found in Peter Levine’s book Waking The Tiger.