Somatic Experiencing was developed by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., to help people alleviate and heal the catastrophic effects of trauma on the human body and spirit. He noticed that wild animals not only have the well-known flight, flight or freeze responses to threat which help them survive in the moment, but they also have deeply instinctive responses after the threat is over to return to peaceful, relaxed living. These responses include taking time to recover, allowing their bodies to tremble or shake to release the powerful energies mobilized to survive, and playfully replaying the event with different endings to ensure mastery of the skills that enabled survival.
Many of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be traced to incomplete fight, flight, or freeze responses to threatening events. Unable to complete the cycle of activation followed by release of energy, the body holds tension and increasing distress until gentle awareness is brought back to the incomplete impulses.
I incorporate Somatic Experiencing into my bodywork sessions by asking you to notice the sensations in your body, following them as they shift under your attention, and helping you gradually address and release stored trauma.
I also help you notice and access hidden resources: positive sensations, images, actions, and assistance which helped you survive the traumatic event. People often report a sense of joy and renewed aliveness after a Somatic Experiencing session.
Read my article Heal Around the Edges for an introduction to Somatic Experiencing techniques you can try on your own.
I trained in Somatic Experiencing through Foundation for Human Enrichment.