Somatic Experiencing is considered to be one of the best and most powerful modalities that exists for bringing true resolution to the body-wide symptoms that can result from stress and trauma. Based on the life work of Peter Levine, renowned author and traumatologist, it has had successful clinical application for over four decades and is now available on every continent of the world.
While traditional talk therapy alone is going to be limited to that which you are cognizant of, Somatic Experiencing is centered on the body, which holds crucial information that flies under the radar of our consciousness. The body has its way of playing out the trauma, and to trained eyes it gives rich clues as to where it is stuck in the process of moving forward and out of the threat response cycle.
When a person goes through an event that is overwhelming, the nervous system moves into a state of fight/flight or freeze in order to survive the situation. Each of these states is dominated by a different branch of the nervous system, and affects the body in very different ways. Impulses to protect oneself in threatening situations can get stuck in the system if the impulse was thwarted or cut short before allowed to fully express. So while the original event that sent one's system into fight/flight or freeze may be long over, the body may still be stuck with truncated impulses that can cause a myriad of symptoms, such as pain or tension, tightness in the chest, tics and spasms, difficulty breathing or swallowing, etc. plus mood or energy disorders, fatigue, insomnia, hypervigilance, racing heart rate, digestion trouble, inability to relax, difficulty concentrating, feeling of overwhelm, and many other types of issues.
Somatic Experiencing gives space for the original self-protective impulses to arise and complete, by slowing down the events and paying close attention to what sensations, impulses, mental images, movements, emotions, and narratives arise that need to find expression. It facilitates the nervous system organically moving out of its threat response state, and into a much calmer, grounded state, in which there is an increased ability to be fully present in the moment, a greater capacity to handle stressors, decreased triggers and feeling of overwhelm, more emotional regulation, more energy and lightheartedness in life, and a truer ability to connect with others and enjoy life. Plus the muscles and fascia associated with the thwarted impulses get to finally let go and relax, resolving the chronic tension pattern that the body was stuck in.
Somatic Experiencing is offered as 60-minute or 75-minute appointments and clients can wear normal clothing, whatever is comfortable. These sessions typically start out seated but may involve standing, moving, or lying down and may or may not involve a touch component; it depends on what the client is comfortable with, what our goals are that day, and what nervous system interventions are most appropriate.
We understand that the thought of navigating through a past trauma can seem scary and intimidating to a client, but the beauty of Somatic Experiencing is that sharing full details of a traumatic event are actually not necessary in order to work with the "trauma energy" of it and to resolve it. While we will ask for themes and headlines of the event so we know what we are generally working with, we are mainly interested in one's felt sense of and internal experience of the event more than the content of the event itself. We have worked at Studio A to create an atmosphere of safety, compassion, connection, privacy, and care, and hold the consent of the client as our top priority, never going down roads the client does not wish to visit or doing exercises the client does not wish to do.
Certain elements of Somatic Experiencing are woven into every session at Studio A, as the client allows and is open to, but for a fuller experience of it and a more targeted approach to resolving one's symptoms of trauma, it is suggested that a Somatic Experiencing session is booked.
If you are looking for a quick-fix to your suffering, Somatic Experiencing is not it. True healing that happens at the foundational level of the nervous system, which affects every other system in the brain-body complex, requires time and dedication. The payout is well worth it though. Somatic Experiencing allows the fragmented pieces of one's life experiences to be integrated once and for all, setting the person free from the ravages of trauma and giving them an ability to move forward, reconnect to their true self, and enjoy life with vitality and youthfulness.
See the video below to gain a better understanding of Somatic Experiencing: how it slows the events down in order to get in contact with the original self-protective impulses, allows them to express, and discharges the survival energy bound up within the client.