As a Psychotherapist I feel it is my work and calling to truly help people. What a gift and honor to get to hold space for your pain, to create a container in which you can show up with your most vulnerable selves and feel heard, feel accepted, and feel genuine empathy. I have always strived to get to the root of the matter, not just putting bandaids on wounds in hopes to temporality stop the bleeding. I dont want to just address the symptoms but what is underneath the symptoms thats creating the chaos. This curiosity and desire has led me to a modality called Somatic Experiencing. This modality was developed by Peter Levine, Phd. to address the effects of trauma. Levine developed this approach after observing that prey animals, whose lives are routinely threatened in the wild, are able to recover readily by physically releasing the energy they accumulate during stressful events. Humans, on the other hand, often override these natural ways of regulating the nervous system with feelings of shame and pervasive thoughts, judgments, and fears. Somatic Experiencing aims to help people move past the place where they might be “stuck” in processing a traumatic event.
The Autonomic Nervous system Explained:
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which includes the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), and the enteric nervous system (ENS) The Nervous system is what is activated during times of real or imagined threat. Also know as our fight, flight, freeze response. This is how we survive threat in the environment. However, the ANS can become dysregulated, particularly when full expression of one’s response to trauma is repressed. As a result, the body continues to respond as if it is under threat. Somatic experiencing contends that negative symptoms of trauma—such as anxiety, hypervigilance, aggression, and shame, result from denying the body the opportunity to fully process the traumatic event.
Though many people who experience traumatic events recover completely, for those who do not, unresolved trauma can lead to larger mental and physical health concerns, such as PTSD, sleep problems, mood swings, or immune system problems. Somatic Experiencing aims to restore the body’s ability to self-regulate in order to achieve balance and integrity.
How this Works:
As Ive explained above, When the nervous system is overwhelmed and cant be fully expressed it becomes dysregulated. The process of SE is slow and gentle so as not to re- traumatize. Through various SE techniques I will help the client find places of safety, whether that be a place in the body that is not activated by the trauma, or a physical place to retreat to in one’s mind. Experiencing the sensations related to the traumatic event in a safe way allows a person to fully process the trauma. Clients also achieve heightened awareness of their physical responses to stress, and this skill can serve them in everyday life. Somatic Experiencing helps people become aware of their bodies’ responses and find new responses that contradict those of helplessness. It works on the principle that trauma happens in the body, and to heal trauma, the body gives us the resources and power to overcome overwhelming experience with resilience.
“I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation. I have little doubt that as individuals, families, communities, and even nations, we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma. In so doing, we will significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams.”
― Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body