What is Somatic Experiencing®

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine and is supported by research. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild utilize innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors.

These mechanisms provide animals with a built-in “immunity’’ to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly ‘’charged’’ life-threatening experiences.

  • SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people “renegotiate” and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.
  • SE’s guidance of the bodily “felt sense,” allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.
  • SE may employ touch in support of the renegotiation process.
  • SE “titrates” experience (breaks down into small, incremental steps), rather than evoking catharsis – which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.

For more information about SE please note the following references:

Levine, P. and Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma : The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Kline, M. and Levine, P. (2007).  Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes:  Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing.  Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books.

For further references and information online about SE go to http://www.traumahealing.com

(This information adapted from the Somatic Experiencing website.)