I have completed an extra 216 hours of trauma focused training, spanning approximately 3 years, engaged in professional consultations, and completed personal Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy to become a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP).
SE therapy is considerably different from traditional talk therapy, especially when working with trauma, anxiety and depression. Processing trauma and anxiety is different from talking about it. When we focus on the story or our memory of the event, our nervous systems can become highly activated and move into a state of survival with no opportunity for resolution. Unresolved feelings connected to fight, flight and freeze can build up in our bodies leading to symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, feeling shut down, disconnecting from others, and physical pain. Talk therapy focuses on talking about the problem and potentially reliving the experience, whereas Somatic Experiencing enables the nervous system to process the trauma in a different way and find relief. In an SE session, a client is never required to relive painful experiences by talking about them at length. While it may be necessary to teach some basic coping skills during session, the goal of treatment is to promote healing and ending of symptoms, rather than learning to cope with pain that may never end.
SE is a trauma treatment approach developed by Dr. Peter Levine, which has been used to treat trauma for decades all over the world. This treatment approach addresses the entire nervous system, by bringing awareness to the connection of feelings in the body and emotional control. Trained professionals, such as myself, help people to build body awareness, and calm their nervous systems through orienting, mindfulness, sensation tracking and the tracking of micro movements. The therapist helps clients to track activation (emotional triggering) and deactivation (relief from triggering) cycles to promote healing and to expand a person’s ability to manage stress without becoming overwhelmed. Part of SE is that it also focuses on a person’s strength, and works to balance the effects of negative experiences with the noticing of positive experiences and sensations to increase capacity to manage hardship. SE teaches we are natural organisms with an innate ability to heal, and suggests our bodies know what is best for us, and with the right support, we can heal.
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