What is Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Therapy?

Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a body-centered therapeutic approach whig helps us unlock our own innate capacity to heal traumatic stress.  Developed by Dr. Peter A. Leine, a pioneering researcher and practitioner of trauma healing, author of Waking the Tiger, “Trauma is about loss of connection – to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others, and to the world around us.”

How does Somatic Experiencing® Work?

SE assists the body in releasing pent up emotional charges that became trapped in the nervous system as anxiety and hyper-arousal states.  While animals in the wild discharge trauma by shaking it off, the human nervous system is not trained in this way.  We can become like an engine with the accelerator and the brakes on simultaneously leading to hyper-vigilance and fear.  The work of SE teaches us that trauma is not in the event, it’s in our nervous system. In SE we use inner resources, body sensations and slowing down the process to find balance and equilibrium in the nervous system in order to heal and renegotiate the trauma.

In SE sessions, clients are encouraged to tune into physical sensation, which creates the space for our bodies to reconnect with our innate healing response.  This naturalistic process can resolve symptoms by gently discharging the high levels of nervous system arousal associated with trauma, and helping our bodies return to a more manageable level of functioning.

For a more detailed explanation of the theory & practice of SE, please read this exquisite review “How Does SE Work?” by fellow Somatic Experiencing Practitioner Neil Winblad.

You can learn more about Somatic Experiencing® at Dr. Levine’s website and from theSomatic Experiencing Training Institute, which is the umbrella organization for worldwide SE training and outreach.

You may find further useful information on Somatic Experiencing®  in these video clips:

Dr. Peter Levine – Trauma and the Nervous System

Dr. Peter Levine and Somatic Experiencing

Dr. Peter Levine on Sexual Trauma

Peter Levine on Sexual Abuse Trauma