In July 2008, I began my 3 year post graduate training in Somatic Experiencing through the Foundation for Human Enrichment, recently renamed Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (www.traumahealing.com), which was founded by Peter A. Levine, PhD. SE is a short-term, naturalistic approach to address trauma. It was developed by Dr. Peter Levine and is supported by research. It is based on the observation that wild prey animals, though routinely threatened, are rarely traumatized, because they use innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive behaviors that help them survive threats. These innate mechanisms provide animals with built-in immunity to trauma and help their nervous systems return to baseline levels after highly charged life threatening experiences. SE employs awareness of body sensation to help 'renegotiate', rather than re-live or re-enact  trauma. In SE sessions clients are guided to use the bodily 'felt-sense', which allows the survival energies to be experienced and gradually discharged.

"Levine affectively argues that the body is healer and that psychological scars of  trauma are reversible - but only if we listen to the voices of our body."

            - Stephen W. Porges, PhD

How does SE differ from other therapeutic modalities?

  • SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people "renegotiate" and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.

  • SE's guidance of the bodily "felt sense," allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.

  • SE "titrates" experience, rather than evoking catharsis - which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.

  • SE helps eliminate pitfalls of re-traumatization and the spurious generation of "false memories".

Peter A. Levine, received his PhD in medical and biological physics from the University of CA at Berkeley, and holds a doctorate in Psychology from International University. He is the coauthor with Ann Frederick, of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences.

"Levine affectively argues that the body is healer and that psychological scars of  trauma are reversible - but only if we listen to the voices of our body."

            - Stephen W. Porges, PhD

 

               




The primary focus of an SE session is to have a client's experience titrated (broken down into small, incremental steps).

SE can result in a relief of traumatic stress symptoms, increased resiliency, and resourcefulness. Like any other treatment, it may also have unintended negative side effects.
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"Although humans possess regulatory mechanisms virtually identical to those in animals, these systems are often overriden by neo-cortical inhibition (through the rational mind). This restraint leads to the formation of constellation of symptoms, including pain, patterns of bracing and collapse, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and a sense of intrusion. Through the focal awareness of bodily sensation, individuals are able to access these restorative physiological action patterns. This allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely and gradually neutralized. Unregulated arousal previously "locked in" the neuromuscular and central nervous systems can be discharged and completed, thus preventing and resolving traumatic symptoms."
                
                     - Peter A. Levine, PhD

 

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