Posted on January 31, 2014
Last modified on May 13, 2019
A traumatic experience can leave mental and physical scars. But long after any physical scars heal, trauma can continue to cause harm. One effective approach to treating trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is Somatic Experiencing.
Somatic Experiencing was developed after a psychologist observed that wild animals who experience life-threatening circumstances on a regular basis use physical movements to eradicate stress after such events. On the other hand, humans retain stress by thinking about the traumatic event and attaching feelings like shame and guilt to it.
Somatic Experiencing recreates the physical reactions to trauma (such as an increased heartbeat or a tensing of the muscles) in an incremental, controlled way. Once a few physical signs are identified, the therapist helps the individual develop a new physical reaction to the traumatic stimulus. This time, the reaction is much more positive, soothing and calming.
When a new physical reaction is addressed in each session, the mind’s ability to adapt to and cope with traumatic triggers can be greatly improved.
Somatic Experiencing is a technique used to address the effects of trauma, which commonly manifests in the following ways:
Once your specially trained Somatic Experiencing therapist understands the source of your trauma, you may be asked to participate in some guided imagery or to describe the event so the therapist can understand how your body reacted to a specific trauma. The therapist will then guide you through relevant movements to reunite your body’s nervous pathways and instinctive responses.
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