Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing (SE) was developed by Dr Peter Levine by watching how animals in the wild released trauma. SE is a non-touch, body-oriented approach that aims to increase the body’s resilience and ability to self-regulate. In this way, symptoms of trauma are reduced and the body is better able to respond to everyday situations with a sense of aliveness and flexibility.

Why is SE so effective?
Trauma affects the autonomic nervous system and lower brain. Because these systems evolved before language, they can’t be healed through words. Unlike other approaches that focus on talking or thinking, SE is effective as it focuses mainly on body sensations, gesture, imagination and emotions.

What happens in an SE session?
SE involves noticing and being with internal sensations, known as somatic experiences. When these are focused upon, stuck survival energy is released and defensive movements are completed. A typical SE session includes;

  • Resourcing  using positive memories to support the body to access feelings of goodness
  • Tracking  following sensations within the body
  • Titration  working slowly and carefully at the body’s pace
  • Pendulation  undoing symptoms by moving between comfortable and less comfortable sensations
  • Completing defensive responses  noticing the body’s impulse to complete movements
  • Discharging  the gentle release of energy through tears, trembling, warmth and easier breathing
  • Integration  the time needed to allow the body to take in the changes

SE is described by one of my teachers as 'sneaky powerful'. The process may seem subtle, but by working slowly and observantly, small changes integrated by the autonomic nervous system can be profound.