Somatic Experiencing is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences). It was introduced in Peter Levine’s 1997 book Waking the Tiger. In it, he discusses at length his observations of animals in the wild, and how they deal with and recover from life-threatening situations. He concludes that their behaviour gives us “an insight into the biological healing process” and that “the key to healing traumatic symptoms in humans lies in our being able to mirror the fluid adaption of wild animals” as they avoid traumatization in reacting to life-threatening situations.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is based on the understanding that symptoms of trauma are the result of a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and that the ANS has an inherent capacity to self-regulate that is undermined by trauma.
SE bases its approach on the science that mammals automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system. In the wild, animals spontaneously “discharge” this excess energy once safe. Involuntary movements such as shaking, trembling, and deep spontaneous breaths reset the ANS and restore equilibrium. Somatic Experiencing works towards restoring this inherent capacity to self-regulate by facilitating the release of energy and natural survival reactions stored during a traumatic event. According to founder Peter Levine, “Trauma lives in the body, not the event.”
I will keep you posted as I move through my practitioner training, but from personal experience, I know this method is incredibly powerful and makes the difference and may just be the final healing piece for you, as it is for me.