”Somatic Experiencing®” is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma. Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, developed this approach, based on the observation that animals in the wild are rarely traumatized—though their lives are threatened routinely.
Restoring Healthy Brain Functions
The broad scope of traumatic life events can include accidents, abuse, birth trauma, illness, medical trauma, natural disasters, and violence. Somatic Experiencing® addresses how the human triune brain (made up of the Neocortex, Limbic System, and Primitive Brain), functions in a complex, highly interconnected network to handle the experience of traumatic events.
Through research of a functional trauma response in the nervous system compared to a dysfunctional trauma response and the psychobiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the components of Somatic Experiencing® were formed. This therapy allows individuals to reinstate at a nervous system and muscular level the instinctual defensive and orientating responses lost or truncated through trauma.
“Nature has instilled in all animals and humans a nervous system capable of restoring equilibrium,” says Maya Youngblood, LPCC, LMT, somatic therapist at Sierra Tucson. “Humans have the same capability and regulatory mechanisms as animals to discharge a highly activated nervous system (which occurs from trauma), but this instinctive function can be superseded by the ‘rational’ part of our brain.”
The Foundation for Human Enrichment explains, “This restraint prevents the complete discharge of survival energies, and does not allow the nervous system to regain its equilibrium. The un-discharged ‘survival energy’ remains ‘stuck’ in the body and the nervous system. The various symptoms of trauma result from the body’s attempt to ‘manage’ and contain this unused energy.” This results in an imbalance and disregulation of the nervous system, and it disconnects us from ourselves, others, and spirit.
By gently awakening this innate capacity for resilience that we share with all living organisms, the straitjacket is loosened. As we are unbound from the past, a future abundant with new possibilities unfolds. Our ability to be in the present expands, revealing the timeless essence of the ‘now.’ Trauma can be hell on earth; transformed, it is a divine gift.” (Excerpt from The Foundation for Human Enrichment)
A Sense of Peace
Although trauma is a reality in life, our sense of peace and well-being can be restored. Somatic Experiencing® is one type of trauma therapy that can help people find a state of rest. Somatic Experiencing® is ordered for the resident when clinically appropriate.