What is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is an alternative treatment method aimed at targeting symptoms which stem from mental and physical trauma. This treatment modality was developed by Psychologist, Dr. Peter Levine when he discovered that we can stimulate our natural healing mechanisms to help our nervous and muscular systems as well as our organs.
SE is not just about “facing” the pain, or “curing” it by developing high tolerance or using medication. Rather, SE is about balance as it facilitates a natural recovery between the mind and body.
How Somatic Experiencing Helps with Trauma
SE focuses on an individual’s perceived body sensations in order to address the physiology of trauma and stress. During a SE session, a practitioner will reframe your traumatic experiences in a way which helps you overcome any negative effects that may be remaining in your mind and body. The SE practitioner will use gentle guiding strategies to help you process the unwanted bodily sensations and suppressed emotions you may be carrying. As a result, the origin of an individual's trauma symptoms are accessed through sensing, awareness, and mindfulness-based strategies.
SE has recently gained popularity due to Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk’s book called The Body Keeps the Score. In this book, Van der Kolk talks about the significance of pendulation in SE. Pendulation refers to helping a traumatized individual dip their toes in and out of an intense memory. Over time, tolerance is developed as the practitioner gradually guides the client towards the traumatic experience making any trauma-related feelings more tolerable. Overall, it is crucial that the practitioner finds a balance and really understands how far they can push the client’s limits.
Further, It is important to note that it can be difficult and even frightening to tap into your body and revisit a traumatic event. Those suffering from long-term effects of PTSD may dissociate to the point where they feel like they’re observing their body from the outside. Numbing is another common PTSD symptom where an individual can barely feel their body or the emotions connected to it. Treating trauma is a complex task which is why a mental health practitioner must go through an extensive training program to achieve professional proficiency in SE.
If you are interested in Somatic Experiencing and want to go to a credible practitioner, Neuropotentential Clinics may be the right place for you. Dr. Arnold Muller is a Psychologist with over 30 years of experience and he is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute.
For more information on Somatic experiencing, please visit https://www.neuropotentialclinics.com/somatic-experiencing or contact us at 416-398-9991.
Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score. United States: Penguin Books.