“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.” ~ Peter A. Levine
Renowned trauma experts including Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine know that “our issues are in our tissues.” Accessing the felt sense of the body through Somatic Experiencing®, mindfulness, trauma sensitive yoga, or other body centered modalities is an important piece of healing from physical and emotional trauma, chronic stress, anxiety, panic, depression, post traumatic stress, overwhelming feelings, and other stress related conditions. These therapies can locate and release the energy “stuck” in our system.
Life Event, Stress and Illness
Chronic Illness Trauma Studies
What is Trauma?
What are some examples of a traumatic event?
What are some symptoms of trauma?
Why do traumatic events cause symptoms?
Understanding the stress reaction
What is Somatic Experiencing® (SE)?
Decades of study and clinical work has led trauma expert Peter Levine, PhD to believe that trauma-related symptoms are caused not by the traumatic event itself, but by residual energy not fully discharged after the event ended.
Levine brought his study, observations and experiences together to develop Somatic Experiencing®. This gentle, effective therapy is being used worldwide to help those suffering the ill effects of trauma or stress. Treatment is based on the premise that since trauma leaves its imprint in the body, it’s essential to include the body into the healing process.
A 2017 randomized study of Somatic Experiencing in individuals with PTSD trauma found significant reductions across multiple domains (Brom et al., 2017).
Peter Levine on Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing: A Body-Centered Approach to Healing Veterans’ PTSD
The Effects of Trauma
Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy
Trauma experts comment about Peter Levine and Somatic Experiencing®:
“Peter Levine has captured the essence of trauma as residing in the ‘unspoken voice’ of our bodies…he provides a marvelous and original perspective on how trauma results in injuries that can be transformed and healed by attention to the natural healing powers that reside deep within every human being.”
–Bessel van der Kolk, MD, World-renowned trauma expert, NY Times bestselling author
“Peter Levine is in the forefront of trauma healing, as theorist, practitioner, and teacher. All of us in the therapeutic community—physicians, psychologists, therapists, aspiring healers, interested laypeople—are ever so much richer for this summation of what he himself has learned.”
–Gabor Maté, MD, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
“Memory has many layers, and Peter Levine has contributed his own unique and powerful way of thinking about how we can understand these systems and optimize their unfolding after trauma. “
–Daniel Siegel, MD, NY Times bestselling author, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute
What to expect in an SE session
Initially, sessions will be similar to traditional talk therapy as we get to know each other, discuss your goals and establish a sense of comfort and rapport. You’ll be
‣ educated about the nervous system
‣ offered tools to help you feel more balanced
‣ given suggestions for at-home practices
Sessions will differ from traditional talk therapy in that, as we proceed, we’ll collaborate to track
‣ bodily sensations
‣ images and thoughts
‣ movement impulses
Images and thoughts that arise from turning inward will further facilitate the healing process by adding meaning to what we notice. Also, since the lower brain doesn’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s perceived, we might use guided visualizations and the imagination to help renegotiate past experience.
Accessing the autonomic nervous system
We’ll delve below the thinking part of the brain and into the felt sense of the body. (If the thinking brain alone could address symptoms, we could talk ourselves out of anxiety or a panic attack!) Gaining access to the lower brain permits instinctual movement survival responses (impulses stemming from the autonomic nervous system) to occur spontaneously or, with gentle guidance, intentionally.
Using care to avoid overwhelming the system
Together we’ll monitor activation (anxiety) or dissociation (spacing out/numbness), taking steps to settle the nervous system when appropriate. Directing attention back and forth between what is comfortable and uncomfortable is another means by which blocked survival energy can be released in a slow, safe and manageable manner.
Mindfulness, movement, attunement with a compassionate person, and resources that provide a sense of safety and wellbeing can gradually enable the nervous system to settle. Once the system recognizes that danger has passed, it can return to a more balanced state.
Working with me
Somatic Experiencing®, is a powerful tool to address nervous system dysregulation, and this is what I rely on most in my work with clients. I enhance the process by drawing on the learning and experience that I’ve gained from mindfulness practice, yoga, coaching, self-compassion techniques and various other trauma trainings, each with research backing its efficacy. Fully aware of the suffering that results from our embodied reactions to stress and trauma, I am wholly committed to being a companion on your path towards wellbeing.
The services offered are not medical treatment or psychological therapy, and are not performed by a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor or therapist to determine if mindfulness, Somatic Experiencing®, or yoga is right for you.