Trauma is an event or dynamic that happens too much, too fast, or too soon for us to fully process. Perceived threats overwhelm our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), and interrupt the healthy manageable shifts between sympathetic charge (“gas”/”go”) and parasympathetic discharge (“brakes”/”rest and digest”). What traumatizes one person may not traumatize another; trauma is not determined by the circumstances. Rather, it’s the facility with which a person’s nervous system is able to metabolize the experience(s) that will lead to trauma or not. A dysregulated Autonomic Nervous System can manifest in many different ways including, but not limited to, excess muscle tension, chronic pain, anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity, depression, apathy, exhaustion, digestive issues, migraines, and more.
The goal of Somatic Experiencing is to aid us in fully processing these overwhelming undigested events or dynamics that have gotten stuck in our nervous systems. Until we access resolution, our nervous systems are caught in feedback loops that, when triggered, behave as if the threats are still present. This can cause us to act as if the trauma is still occurring long after it has ended, because we are physiologically reacting in the exact same way as when the threat was perceived.
Our ability to break out of these loops occurs by accessing innate reparative experiences that correspond to every traumatic experience. Discovering and allowing these repairs to take place in a holistic embodied way leads to a sense of resolution and subsequent restored flow of our nervous systems. The reparative actions lead us to understand that we’ve made it, we’ve survived; the threat is no longer present, and we can move on with our lives.
Our body-mind-selves know exactly what we need in order to repair and resolve these feedback loops if we know how to listen. Somatic Experiencing taps into this deeper level of listening to our senses, imagination, behaviors, emotions, and memories to follow the maps our systems are drawing for us toward healing. In private sessions, we use a mix of dialogue and gentle touch to follow the cues of our body-mind-selves that free our nervous systems from the patterns of stuck-ness and overwhelm to prompt resilient natural flow again.
Somatic Experiencing® is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.*