‘Healing trauma involves reconnecting with our body and its innate wisdom’ – Peter Levine

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a therapeutic approach developed by Dr. Peter A. Levine to address and heal trauma and stress-related conditions. Unlike traditional approaches that focus primarily on talk therapy, SE emphasizes the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It is based on the idea that trauma is not just a psychological phenomenon but also a physiological one. Trauma is stored in the body and can manifest as physical symptoms and sensations, like chronic pain, muscle tension, and digestive issues. By working with the physical sensations, individuals can process and release traumatic stress.

How Does Somatic Experiencing Work?

Somatic Experiencing works by helping individuals focus on their ‘felt sense’, deepening awareness of physical sensations and emotions as they arise in the body. This in turn, supports the nervous system to release stored survival energy linked to past trauma, and restores its natural balance and regulation. Typically working with SE involves:
  1. Creating a Safe Environment. The therapist establishes a safe, supportive environment where the client feels comfortable exploring their physical sensations and emotions.
  2. Tracking Sensations. The client is guided to notice and track physical sensations in their body. This could include feelings of tightness, warmth, tingling, or other bodily responses.
  3. Titration. Instead of delving deeply into the traumatic experience all at once, SE uses a technique called titration. This means breaking down the experience into small, manageable pieces, which helps prevent overwhelm and allows the body to gradually release stored stress.
  4. Pendulation – this involves moving between states of relative calm and the edges of discomfort. By pendulating between these states, the client learns to experience distressing sensations without becoming overwhelmed.
  5. Discharge. The body naturally discharges the energy associated with trauma through various means such as deep sighs. These discharges are signs that the body is releasing stuck energy.
  6. Integration. After the discharge, the therapist helps the client integrate these experiences, ensuring that the newly released energy is processed and understood, leading to a greater sense of well-being and resilience.

What are the benefits of Somatic Experiencing?

  • Reduces Symptoms of Trauma: SE can alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other stress-related conditions.
  • Enhances Emotional Regulation: By learning to track and understand bodily sensations, individuals can better manage their emotions and responses.
  • Improves Overall Well-being: Many individuals report a greater sense of calm, increased energy, and improved ability to handle stress.
  • Holistic Healing: SE addresses the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of trauma, promoting comprehensive healing.

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Who Can Benefit from Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing can benefit people who have experienced a wide range of traumas, including:
  • Childhood trauma
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Medical trauma
  • Natural disasters
  • Assault or abuse
  • Chronic stress
Somatic Experiencing can be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other therapeutic approaches. It is often used in conjunction with talk therapy to provide a more holistic and integrated approach to treating trauma.
For further reading, we recommend the article ‘Unlocking Healing: The Power of Somatic Experiencing for Trauma’ on our blog by Anna Nauka.
For more information, visit the official Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. 
If you’d like to book a session with a professional trained in Somatic Experiencing Method please see the bio of: Anna Nauka, Karolina Jurasik or Kasia Sowińska or send us an email on: hello@silverliningtherapy.co