If you have ever been a client in a somatic therapy session, you probably have some thoughts and experiences about how it works, and its effectiveness.
Scientific observation/validation, however, is an entirely different animal. People’s opinions vary widely regarding which is better, more valid. I have heard many a heated discussion about this very topic, some involving rather colorful terms.
I think both paradigms are vitally important for the understanding and development of a therapy modality. The individual client needs to feel and know that it’s working; and we also need reliable indicators that the therapy works across large groups of people.
SE itself is a fascinating blend of spirituality and neuroscience, of the intangible and scientific. Indeed, many would argue that optimal self-regulation involves a blend of the felt sense and the cognitive, the nonverbal knowing and the ability to articulate logic.
Somatic Experiencing has a strong scientific basis at its foundation. Its developer, Dr. Peter Levine, holds two PhDs. The bibliography of his latest book, In An Unspoken Voice, is full of research studies referenced in the text. But what about studies evaluating the actual practice of the therapy itself? For most of its existence, SE has been developed and practiced by clinicians, not researchers; hence there aren’t nearly as many research studies as we’d like to see.
Now, there is a coalition of international volunteers dedicated to promoting research about Somatic Experiencing. Here is the link to the SE Research Coalition.
This effort is just beginning, so remember to check back frequently for news and updates!