Somatic Experiencing – Therapy for PTSD
Somatic Experiencing® is an approach to resolving trauma that is founded on the belief that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma. Developed by Dr. Peter Levine based on his observations of animals in the wild, Somatic Experiencing® can improve an individual’s ability to function.
When a trauma occurs, it arouses the body’s autonomic nervous system (such as the “flight or fight” response). These responses may not be fully discharged after the traumatic situation has passed, preventing the individual from returning to a natural state of rest.
The goals of Somatic Experiencing® include increasing body awareness and decreasing the physical tension that results from trauma. Using such techniques as titration (exposure to distress to improve tolerance) and pendulation (practicing self-regulation in response to dysregulation), the patient’s natural ability to self-regulate is restored.
Typical sessions are done one-on-one similar to psychotherapy. During and after a Somatic Experiencing® session, the patient keeps a record of their emotions in order to guide the progress of treatment.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SOMATIC EXPERIENCING?
Somatic Experiencing® utilizes the body’s natural ability to heal itself, restoring self-regulation, balance and relaxation. People who have suffered emotional trauma, such as injury, accidents, surgery, chronic pain, rape, assault and combat, have experienced a dramatic reduction in symptoms as a result of Somatic Experiencing®.
Somatic Experiencing® is often used in conjunction with other therapies. One benefit Somatic Experiencing® has over cognitive therapies is that the patient isn’t asked to re-live a traumatic event or process their emotions using the higher brain functions. Instead, Somatic Experiencing® works on the primitive brain centers, focusing on sensations.
WHAT CONDITIONS/DISORDERS DOES SOMATIC EXPERIENCING TREAT?
Somatic Experiencing® is used to treat various forms of emotional trauma, particularly shock trauma (arising from a single traumatic event) and developmental trauma (trauma that occurs during childhood development). It can also alleviate the symptoms of trauma, ranging from anxiety and chronic pain to migraines and tension.