What is Somatic Experiencing Therapy?

(Based on the work of Dr. Peter Levine

The Somatic Experiencing model was developed based on observation of animals in the wild. Despite being routinely threatened, wild animals are very rarely traumatized. Why is this? It is through the observation of wild animals’ innate ability to heal that we are able to discover the pathway to our own healing as human animals. 

When animals in the wild experience a threat, whether it be from competition within the same species or from a predator, their bodies create energy so that they may fight for survival or run away in order to stay alive. Other animals, such as possums and turtles for example, become immobilized and mentally disconnected from the threatening experience. This looks like the freeze response. As energy is discharged through fighting, running, or coming out of immobilization through shaking and trembling, the animal’s body is able to complete the energy discharge cycle, and return to a state of equilibrium. All of these natural responses serve a purpose, and enable the survival of the animal. 

Although humans possess the natural healing tendencies similar to animals in the wild, we often override our natural instincts with logic, and the rational mind. For example, when we are experiencing a trigger, energy is created in our bodies similar to that of wild animals. However, we may not be able to physically fight or run away, and that energy becomes trapped, or we immobilize and become disconnected from the experience. 

If the energy discharge cycle doesn’t complete, then that charge stays trapped, and from the body’s perspective, it is still under threat. The Somatic Experiencing method works to release this stored energy and turn off this threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation. By bringing focus back to our body and nervous system, we are able to increase our awareness of where the energy is being held, and where energy needs to be released. 

As a therapist who utilizes Somatic Experiencing, I support clients in tuning in to their bodies, and exploring where the natural release cycle of energy was stunted or blocked. By doing so, we are giving the body the opportunity to process the traumatic event, and release the energy that has been held for so long.

“Nature has instilled in all animals, including humans, a nervous system capable of restoring equilibrium. When this self-regulating function is blocked or disturbed, trauma symptoms develop as ways of binding the undischarged arousal or activation” ~ Dr. Peter Levine

If this resonates with your experience and you’d like to learn how to recalibrate your nervous system and heal it using Somatic Experiencing, Click below to schedule a free phone consultation with Carla. 

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