Dr. Peter Levine’s widely respected and innovative approach to the prevention and healing of trauma, Somatic Experiencing® (SE), is a psychobiological method for addressing physical and emotional trauma, PTSD, overwhelm, and stress-related conditions. Dr. Levine received a PhD in medical and biological physics as well as an independent doctoral degree in psychology. The SE Approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, connecting into the felt senses and recognizing the powerful information rooted in the body.
- SE is a short-term, naturalistic approach to healing and resolving the effects of traumatic events, developed by Peter Levine, Ph. D (who has doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology).
- Based on his observations of animals in the wild, who deal with survival threats regularly and yet are rarely traumatized
- Animals have an in-born mechanism that allows them to manage large amounts of “survival” energy and to discharge it when it is no longer needed—returning to a state of balance (they literally shake it off/out of their systems)
- We humans have the same mechanism, but we tend to “override” it with our “higher” brain and consequently, we end up “storing” excess survival energies in our bodies as symptoms
- The body has a natural capacity to heal and to restore itself; SE encourage this natural capacity to heal in a gentle and contained way (without re-traumatizing)
- SE work with the natural survival responses of “fight/flight/freeze” (the innate survival responses within us all)
- SE recognizes that trauma symptoms arise when “survival” energies do not discharge completely from the body
- SE help relieve symptoms of trauma by eliciting discharge of stored or “stuck” survival energies
- The goal of SE is to relieve symptoms of traumatic stress through gently discharging stored survival energies and restoring balance to the nervous system
- SE can be used to treat anyone who has experienced or witnesses an event that was perceived to be threatening or overwhelming to the persons or which posed a serious threat or injury to themselves or others
*Foundation for Human Enrichment: Somatic Experiencing
Personal Somatic Experiencing/Massage Therapy Sessions:
For fourteen years I’ve been a guide. Supporting others to venture into the wilderness or abroad for a day, a week, a month, perhaps inspiring a lifetime of exploring. Five years ago, I began facilitating a very different kind of journey, one in which only subtle movement takes places. The kind of journey that is exceptionally personal with the potential for extraordinary healing, venturing into our own bodies.
After years of teaching yoga and meditation, working as a massage and recreation therapist, I am currently pursuing a three year certification as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner. Weaving cutting edge trauma treatment into my work has been fascinating and rewarding.
Through slowing and cultivating an awareness of our bodies we are capable of breaking through unconscious barriers to well-being. To experience the present moment non-judgmentally while connecting to our senses, results in powerful psychological and physiological shifts. These two historically separate academic fields are becoming increasingly connected through the study of neuroscience, biofeedback techniques and the benefits of mindfulness-based practices.
I work individually with clients utilizing the Somatic Experiencing® approach. We build a foundation of knowledge and skills from which all future sessions rely upon. By gently guiding my clients to develop an increased tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, this approach focuses on connecting into the felt senses and recognizing the powerful information rooted in the body.
Eventually touch is introduced, blending massage therapy treatments into our sessions. Trauma generally results in a loss of connection to our relationships, the world around us and to ourselves, especially to our bodies. Developing a level of body awareness is required for touch to be deeply received and one to stay fully embodied throughout both a somatic experiencing and massage therapy session.
The opportunity to invite one into their body can be likened to my days as a wilderness guide. Once we arrive, having toiled up the mountain and simply look around, struck by the gorgeous view and absorbing the beauty of the natural world, my job is over. Once you arrive, having quieted the mind and simply trust yourself to connect with your body, experiencing sensation, my job is over. In each circumstance, they are safe and unavoidably present. The nature of what lies before or within them is too palpable to be anywhere but in the moment. Then I ask you to simply sit and breath and indulge in a state of being where transformation occurs effortlessly. For in the action of attuning to our bodies we access both intense challenge and expansive peace.
~Kendall Williams, BA, LMBT, QMHP, HeartMath coach, Yoga Instructor, WFR