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Somatic Experiencing

SE ™ was developed by Dr Peter Levine who was fascinated that wild animals who are under constant threat are rarely traumatized. Their instinctive survival physiology allows their bodies to discharge the highly charged fight/ flight /freeze energy by involuntary shaking and trembling and some deep regulatory breaths after a life-threatening experience.

The trembling and shaking discharges the remaining adrenaline and resets the nervous system, restoring the equilibrium to their bodies. In humans, however, the rational mind ( neo-cortex) mostly overrides this primitive adaptive response and the discharge does not happen. The stress hormones therefore remain trapped in the body.

SE ™ allows the client to connect with the innate wisdom of the bodys’ healing ability. This happens through the conscious awareness of the felt sense -the language of the nervous system. The SE ™ therapist guides the client to track physical sensations, feelings, thoughts and images related to the trauma. This allows the body to discharge the stored traumatic energy in a safe way. The result is greater self-regulation and freedom of symptoms.

The bodies of traumatized people portray "snapshots" of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. For example, when we prepare to fight or to flee, muscles throughout our entire body are tensed in specific patterns of high energy readiness. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions, we fail to discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations. This energy becomes fixed in specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. The person then stays in a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word- they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult if not impossible to function normally under these circumstances.

― Peter A. Levine
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