Somatic Experiencing: How The Therapy Works To Heal Trauma
In our previous blog post, we discussed the body’s role in trauma, how traumatic events affect the body, and the importance of healing the body in trauma recovery. We also looked at the difference between animals’ ability to process stress hormones versus the human ability to process stress hormones and how that difference leads humans to develop PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Here, we will take a deeper look at somatic experiencing as a therapeutic approach to healing mind and body in trauma recovery.
What Is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing is the result of a lifetime of study conducted by Dr. Peter A. Levine who was intrigued by the connection between the body, the mind, nature, biophysics and more. By recalling and reproducing sensations both mental and physical caused by trauma, somatic experiencing helps to release the stored shock of trauma caused by the fight or flight response. As explained by the Somatic Experiencing website, “The SE approach offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight, or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states.” Additionally, explaining that the Somatic Experiencing approach “facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms.”
How Somatic Experiencing Works
By guiding clients through their physical experiences, therapists help reduce the severity of hyper vigilance one might have within their own body. Physical stress can cause anxiety as the physical sensations result in recall of a traumatic event. Creating a stress cycle, the body has no freedom to simply calm down and exist in the present moment. Many who are struggling with trauma find immense suffering due to the constant recall of physical sensations produced by their bodies. Somatic Experiencing helps clients become less reactive to their own physical states, increasing tolerance for the triggering body sensations, as well as opening the door to liberating the suppressed emotions associated with the trauma.
Why Holistic Healing Matters
Trauma impacts the mind, the body, and the spirit. Attempting to heal trauma through only one of these channels deeply and disrespectfully negates the very real existence of trauma effects in the other areas. In order to fully heal trauma, the full individual needs to be healed in each of these areas, leading to a more peaceful life of trauma recovery.
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