Since 1997 we have been offering courses and training in Somatic Experiencing (SE), this fascinating possibility for trauma resolution according to Dr. Peter A. Levine.
What is Somatic Experiencing?
SE is a bio-psycho-physiologically based concept for the treatment and resolution of shock and trauma, which was compiled by the American bio-physicist, psychologist and biologist Dr. Peter A. Levine in decades of work and has been clinically tested with great success.
It is based on observations in the wild: Animals in the wild are rarely traumatised - although they are regularly under severe threat. They need inherent mechanisms that allow them to set their self-regulation in motion and to discharge high amounts of energy from their body after a very challenging or overwhelming experience.
These internal processes result in animals possessing a kind of "built-in immunity" to trauma - in other words, they are capable of finding their way back into normal life without any problems after a life-threatening situation.
If people are supported in the right way, they too can recover from their traumas. The targeted adaptation of the animal model to the human life-world is the great art that is learned in the trainings.
"A trauma is like an inner straightjacket that leaves a person frozen inside ...freezes the moment she has experienced in her memory."
"Trauma suppresses the unfolding of life. "It interrupts our connection to ourselves, to other people, to nature and to our spiritual source."
"The trauma is not in a specific event, but in the nervous system of the affected Person."
Dr. Peter A. Levine
If a person is not able to cope with an external threatening situation (in which something happens too much, too fast, too violently) by fighting or fleeing (FIGHT/FLIGHT), he can get stuck in the solidification reaction (FREEZE), which in the long run leads to a state of helplessness and collapse. An extremely high charge of survival energy then remains bound in the nervous system.
For Peter A. Levine, a trauma suffered is in the nervous system of the person concerned. Therefore, the SE tries to release the activation energy accumulated in the body in a safe way. With targeted interventions and an open and mindful attitude, psycho-physiological reactions are accompanied which break down the excess energy held in the body and return the person to a state of greater vitality.
The unregulated excitation trapped in the neuromuscular and central nervous system is discharged and a previously stopped cycle of excitation and relaxation is completed (heat, trembling, vibration, etc.). An expanded sense of space and similar self-perceptions are signs of this release of accumulated activation energy. The mobility in the nervous system, which was lost due to the overwhelming experience, is restored.
Key concepts from SE
- Understanding that trauma is a natural part of life
- Trauma can be healed through the body
- Return to orientation in the here and now generates strong neurobiological reactions
- Pendulum between trauma and resource vortex
- Content serves primarily to detect activation - not to listen to the experienced story
- Symptoms are welcome - as a door to the place of excess charge in the body system
- Alignment to dosed amount of activation (titration)
- Completing defence and orientation mechanisms
- Empowerment over physically perceptible "I can" experiences
- Alignment to containment (create safe space), not catharsis
- Strategy of "renegotiation" (work with corrective experience)