Somatic Experiencing (SE): Understanding Dr. Peter Levine’s Trauma Remedy


By William Schroeder, LPC

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a type of remedy developed by Dr. Peter Levine to assist people who’ve skilled trauma. It’s based mostly on the concept that trauma is saved within the physique and may manifest as bodily and emotional signs. SE focuses on releasing this saved vitality by working with the physique’s pure mechanisms for processing and resolving traumatic experiences.

What are the important thing ideas of Somatic Experiencing:

  1. Trauma as a physiological response: SE posits that trauma is not only a psychological expertise however a physiological response to an amazing occasion. When confronted with a threatening state of affairs, our our bodies instinctively activate the battle, flight, or freeze response. If these responses are usually not in a position to full or are interrupted, the physique could maintain onto the vitality, which might result in signs of trauma.
  2. Working with the physique: As an alternative of focusing solely on speaking concerning the traumatic occasion, SE works with the physique’s sensations and actions to assist launch the saved vitality. By observing and dealing with the physique’s responses, SE may help people reconnect with their our bodies and launch the stress held of their muscle mass, organs, and nervous system.
  3. Titration and Pendulation: Two essential ideas in SE are titration (slowly processing small quantities of trauma at a time) and pendulation (transferring between states of activation and rest). These approaches assist forestall retraumatization and overwhelm through the therapeutic course of.
  4. Useful resource-building: SE additionally helps people construct assets and develop coping expertise to deal with tough feelings and sensations. These assets will be inner (e.g., feeling grounded and related to the physique) or exterior (e.g., supportive relationships and secure environments).

How does Somatic Experiencing assist people who’ve skilled trauma?

  1. Releasing saved stress and vitality: By working with the physique’s pure responses, SE helps launch the vitality that has been caught on account of incomplete battle, flight, or freeze responses. This may help cut back bodily and emotional signs related to trauma.
  2. Constructing resilience: By constructing assets and serving to people course of their traumatic experiences, SE can improve their potential to deal with stress and challenges sooner or later.
  3. Reconnecting with the physique: Many individuals who’ve skilled trauma could really feel disconnected from their our bodies or wrestle with physique consciousness. SE helps people reconnect with their our bodies and develop a more healthy relationship with their bodily sensations.
  4. Enhancing total well-being: By addressing the physiological and psychological results of trauma, SE may help enhance total well-being, together with bodily well being, emotional stability, and interpersonal relationships.

Is Somatic Experiencing proof based mostly?

Since its inception, researchers and clinicians have been finding out SE’s efficacy. There are a restricted variety of analysis research on Somatic Experiencing, however the physique of proof has been rising. A number of research have urged that SE will be useful for people with post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) and different trauma-related points.

A few of the proof consists of:

  1. Naturalistic Research: These are research the place SE is utilized in real-world settings with out the rigorous controls of a randomized medical trial. A few of these research have indicated constructive outcomes for people who obtained SE remedy.
  2. Randomized Managed Trials (RCTs): A number of RCTs have investigated the effectiveness of SE. A few of these research have proven that SE will be efficient in lowering trauma-related signs, though extra high-quality RCTs are wanted to ascertain SE as a gold customary, evidence-based remedy.
  3. Qualitative Research: These research collect detailed narratives from individuals, which might present wealthy perception into their experiences. Some qualitative research on SE have reported that individuals felt a profound sense of reduction and enchancment in trauma signs after present process the remedy.

It’s important to strategy proof with a nuanced perspective. Whereas there may be proof suggesting that SE will be efficient for some people, the physique of analysis remains to be comparatively small, and extra high-quality, large-scale research are wanted. Moreover, what works for one particular person could not work for one more, so it’s all the time important to contemplate particular person elements and wishes.

Bonus: Peter Levine discussing trauma and the way Somatic Experiencing helps



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