The support for healing trauma — whether it is physical or emotional — is advancing. Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is one of the most well known of these approaches which was pioneered over 40 years ago by acclaimed American author and clinician Dr. Peter Levine. SE is a leading approach in the treatment for stress and psychological trauma. It is a body-awareness approach to trauma which is now being taught throughout the world has touched the lives of many thousands of people.
It has been acknowledged as a highly effective way to work with the impacts of recent trauma as well as the long term impacts of traumatic experiences held in the nervous system sometimes over long periods of time.
SE is effective in working with for trauma arising out of many overwhelming experiences including: war experiences, combat veterans, assault, rape, accidents, post surgical trauma, chronic pain, birth and developmental trauma.
It is based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma. The approach has as its foundation the recognition of a person’s capacity to survive overwhelming events and to build on the human natural capacity to re-establish well-being. SE® restores self-regulation, and returns a sense of aliveness, relaxation and wholeness to traumatized individuals who have had these precious gifts taken away.
The key is to see how each person carries the embodied remnants from our past that haunt the present in the form of overwhelm, fears, anger, dissociation or stress. These remnants are biological in nature.
Therapists who understand these biological programs can help them do what they know to do: arise in an urgent situation, and then relax again and thus resolving and integrating the post-traumatic distress which may have been part of someone’s life for many years.
For nearly half a century, Peter Levine and his students have studied the biological programs of fight, flight and–importantly–freeze/dissociation. Each client that the therapist encounters will show evidence of these incomplete programs. The hyper-or hypo-arousal from these incomplete programs dominate the person (via their biology) as they try to complete the survival responses. Psychological work will be limited unless and until these programs are satisfied, and deactivated.