What is Somatic Experiencing® (SE)?
As we go through life, most of us do not realize how ongoing stress, an event or series of events have the potential to negatively affect our health, and our ability to deal with and manage stress.
Somatic Experiencing®, or SE® for short, is a mindfulness based method designed to help us overcome the effects of accumulated or ongoing stress, and move through and resolve many types of trauma. By working with the mind-body system, SE® also helps restore balance to our autonomic nervous system, which is the “stress response system” in our body, enabling us to self-regulate (without the use of medication) and manage stress more effectively.
How Somatic Experiencing® is Different From Other Therapies
Dr. Peter Levine, a Medical Biophysicist and Psychologist who has studied the stress response for over 40 years, developed the Somatic Experiencing® method. SE® differs from other mind-body methods in that it does not engage the higher, cognitive brain, but rather the lower, instinctual brain, which is where the autonomic nervous system (the stress response) is housed. In addition, SE® is a resource-oriented model, which means during a session we do not focus on what is wrong, but rather on what is right. SE® is also unique in that we slow down the process and allow time for the autonomic nervous system to adjust and balance.
By working with the mind-body system, the highly aroused “fight, flight or freeze” energies, that are mobilized during a stressful or traumatic event, can be safely experienced and gradually discharged. While animals discharge survival energies produced by stressors naturally, most people do just the opposite by constricting muscles, clenching jaws, constricting the breath, etc. SE® invites the body to release stuck energy, thus restoring balance to the nervous system. You will also learn to identify when you are becoming stressed and learn techniques to help you remain calm and focused.
The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute
The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute was founded in 1996 by Dr. Peter Levine, who has been developing and practicing SE® for over 40 years. Dr. Levine holds doctorate degrees in medical biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley and psychology from California International University. He was a consultant for NASA and has served with the World Affairs Task Force for “Psychologists for Social Responsibility,” and the American Psychological Associations “Presidents Initiative on Responding to Large-Scale Disasters.”
The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational and outreach organization dedicated to the worldwide healing and prevention of stress and trauma. It provides professional training in Somatic Experiencing® and outreach to under-served populations and victims of violence, war, and natural disasters. Somatic Experiencing® compliments psychotherapy and other cognitive therapies by bringing awareness of the bodily experience into the equation.
Somatic Experiencing® is currently taught and practiced worldwide by over 5,000 SE Practitioners across the globe. The number of schoolteachers getting certified in the Somatic Experiencing® method is growing as statistics indicate that many of today’s youths have a stress response system that is not functioning properly, resulting in an inability to self-regulate. A teacher’s personal familiarity and experience with Somatic Experiencing helps them stay grounded and calm during challenging classroom situations.
The inherent capacity of the nervous system to self-regulate can be restored, and symptoms of stress and/or trauma can be diminished and, in some cases, even eliminated. If you’d like to find out more about how Somatic Experiencing® can help you, please call 949-400-5951 for a 15-minute consultation.