“Most trauma-sensitive people need some form of body-oriented psychotherapy or bodywork to regain a sense of safety in their bodies.”
Bessel van der Kolk
Sometimes after a stressful or traumatic experience humans respond physiologically using the survival tools of fight, flight, freeze or collapse. If we are unable to complete these responses, we may become stuck in our response to other situations that remind us of the stressful situation.
SE teaches that an on-going response to a stress or trauma is not caused by the event itself, but rather develops through the failure of the body, psyche, and nervous system to process adverse events well.
SE offers a framework to assist in freeing us from these often no longer useful responses through the body. SE does not require the traumatized person to re‑tell or re‑live the traumatic event. Instead, it offers the opportunity to engage, complete, and resolve – in a slow and supported way – the body’s instinctual fight, flight, freeze, and collapse responses. This has the effect of resetting the nervous system, restoring inner balance, and facilitating resilience to stress. The result is an increase in the client’s vitality, equanimity, and capacity to actively engage in life.
“Fortunately, the same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma, when properly engaged and mobilized, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery, and wisdom.”
Peter A Levine, PhD
History of Somatic Experiencing (SE)
Somatic Experiencing (SE) was developed by Peter Levine, Psychologist. He was intrigued that in animals in the wild were able to process and release traumatic experiences and why some humans are unable to do so. Could we learn from animal behavior? Do we also have natural ways to process trauma? Somatic Experiencing is the outcome of his interest, study (garnering information from many other sources and disciplines), and direct practice with clients and personal experience over many years. He developed a way to work with traumatic shock; time limited shock like a car accidents and environmental disasters to long term shock like physical abuse, war, early development and attachment issues, to racism, and cultural belonging.
More information can be found at:
or by reading:
In An Unspoken Voice
by Peter Levine