Somatic Experiencing®

What is Somatic Experiencing (SE)?

Somatic Experiencing® was developed by Dr. Peter Levine following his observation that animals in the wild do not appear to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), even though daily they are faced with life threatening situations. Dr. Levine observed the mechanisms by which animals are able to shake off the high levels of nervous system arousal and return to their daily lives. He then developed an approach to working with the human nervous system to not only reduce symptoms of stress and trauma but can also release the energy that is embedded in the underlying system. 

What Does a Somatic Experiencing Session Look Like?

Typically, SE® sessions look a lot like psychotherapy with the practitioner and client sitting across from each other on chairs or sofas, enjoying some conversation, getting oriented to the surroundings. The objective is to relieve trauma in small titrated doses rather than all at once. Diving in too deeply and too rapidly can further compound and reinforce trauma.

Most sessions will pause in the conversation or topic to focus awareness on sensations in the body, images, movements, feelings, insights or memories. 

This quiet mindful exploration of what is happening inside of your process will allow the body to reveal what is unfinished and utilize its innate abilities to heal. The practitioner’s job is to help monitor the body and assure that the client doesn’t go too far or too fast and end up getting overwhelmed by their experience and, therefore, re-traumatized.

Recommended Therapist

The recommended clinician for Somatic Experiencing is Emily Benson, MSW, LICSW, RPT-S, SEP.

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