What Is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing ®, or SE, is a body-oriented therapy designed to help people overcome the effects of trauma. These effects may include anxiety, depression, motivation problems, and relationship problems, among other symptoms.
Somatic = body. Experience = what is going on for you in this moment?
SE includes all the components of traditional talk therapy. But it adds an extra dimension: Awareness of what the client’s body is doing.
The body/nervous system is where the trauma lives; and the cortex, or “smart brain”, frequently shuts down during traumatic states. Therefore, accessing the power of the body, its implicit memory, is often the key to helping the person get “unstuck” and begin healing from previous life circumstances.
Here is a link to a brief explanation by the founder of SE, Dr. Peter Levine.
In psychotherapy, SE helps the client become aware of thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, movement impulses, and other somatic cues to what is going on. Together, the practitioner and client learn to detect and actively work with the autonomic nervous system arousal, or the extra energy that is trapped in the body, causing symptoms. The treatment goal is to regulate the nervous system: the person is able to be relaxed, in a state of ease, but lively, no longer responding in the current moment to emergencies from years or decades ago.
Many different helping professionals use SE in their daily practice, including: Psychotherapists, counselors, teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, traditional or indigenous healers, massage therapists, yoga teachers, and others.
For further information about SE and how it works, please refer to this page on the Somatic Experiencing website.