Somatic Experiencing (SE) looks at symptoms and patterns through the lens of the nervous system. As such, it is destigmatizing, as symptoms are viewed as our nervous system’s best effort to help us survive and take care of ourselves. It assists people freeing their nervous system from compulsive fight, flight or freeze responses, which can keep them stuck in unproductive patterns.
It a holistic approach to healing the effects of unresolved traumatic events and life stressors. It is useful for resolving trauma symptoms, expanding mind/body awareness, easing chronic pain, reducing stress and anxiety and developing a deeper connection with self and others.
Trauma and traumatic stress can described as overwhelming situations that happen “too much, too fast, or too little or are too pervasive.”
Examples of trauma can include:
- Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
- Physical neglect and emotional neglect
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Mental illness or substance misuse within the household
- A sudden death in the family
- A stressful divorce
- Caring for someone with a chronic or debilitating illness
- Medical procedures and accidents.
- Cultural factors, such as racism, violence and discrimination
- Pandemic related stressors, particularly for health care workers.
While shock trauma and childhood problem may be in the past, today’s cultural problems, such as racism, violence and discrimination, along with the pandemic are pervasive stressors that exist in the here and now of many people’s lives. Internal regulation is vital to preserve mental and physical health.
The goal of SE therapy is to release traumatic activation through increased flexibility, tolerance and regulation of bodily sensations and related emotions and to build more resilience to stress.