Somatic Experiencing

What is Somatic Experiencing (SE)®?

Somatic Experiencing® (SE for short) is a pioneering whole person therapy, working with the physical and psychological symptoms of stress, shock and trauma. Developed by American psychotherapist Dr Peter Levine, who believes “trauma is primarily biological – a physical phenomenon – not an incurable disease”

Knowledge of your trauma patterns can help both with moderate traumatic reactions, as well as potentially defend against symptoms that may develop after a stressful or overwhelming event.

SH Health SE ZebraLevine’s observations of wildlife conclude that, animals who are regularly threatened with death, are rarely traumatised. He believes we are all equipped with the same capacity to overcome an overwhelming experience. Yet we also have an upper rational brain that frequently ‘rejects’ the powerful primal instinct of the body. The result is that fight/flight energy gets trapped in our nervous system where it can lead to symptoms; sometimes immediately, sometimes years later.

In your one to one session, Aaron will guide and support you in a moment by moment awareness of sensation or experience in your body.  He aims to support the safe release of symptoms from your autonomic nervous system, putting the past where it belongs, and restoring body and mind to a relaxed sense of embodied safety or wholeness.

Talking about or reliving trauma is not always necessary within a treatment, rather we listen to the ‘voice’ of the body, referred to as the ‘felt sense’ and how it can manifest either with sensation, image or other parts of SIBAM, a word used to describe the elements of a somatic experiencing session.

We will explore the experience of ‘over-coupling’, where an event from our past may trigger or reinforce an experience we are having in the present moment. Somatic Experiencing can help to uncouple these biological responses, fear or overwhelm, helping to create resilience and integration for healthier, more supportive patterns and a more grounded complete sense of being in the world.

By working slowly, cycles or symptom escalation can be examined and potentially reversed or reframed allowing reintegration and settling. The aim is to help you gain a steady confidence in your ability to work with trauma in a safe, conscious and life-affirming way. Sessions can be as much a life education as a therapy.

Aaron’s role is to act as a non-judgmental, safe and compassionate support to help you feel safe and to facilitate the release of held traumatic energy throughout your body.

SH Health Somatic ExperiencingTypically, you will sit opposite each other, you will have time to settle, you will then discuss and choose what you’d like to work with. This can be facilitated in a way that does not overwhelm you and can offer the most safety. He will then guide you to consciously explore – without judgment – related physical sensations, feelings, thoughts or images as they arise.

Wherever appropriate and with your permission, Aaron may use simple Shiatsu contact such as a hand on your shoulder to help regulate your nervous system.

Through this simple moment-to-moment process – called tracking, together you will follow the ‘felt sense’, which may be challenging at times and at others a whole new experience of inhabiting the body emerges. With practice and co-regulation, you can learn to expand your capacity to be with your experience, allowing the natural biological intelligence to discharge bound/held energy.

It is possible for held, historic stress in your body to be properly engaged and released naturally. You may experience numbness, tingling, warmth, or involuntary muscle movements such as twitching, gut gurgling, or yawning.

The results of these often, subtle releases can sometimes be felt immediately. The held, stagnated survival energy at the root of your symptoms is freed, allowing space for a new relaxation to establish deep in your body and mind.

Somatic Experiencing has been shown to help the treatment of shock, trauma and PTSD alongside being an opportunity to take a deep dive into your nervous system, clearing held energy patterns that are not serving you, building resilience and expanding your window of tolerance.

Please note it is not possible to wear a mask during this treatment, as you need to be able to see eachothers faces properly.
For more information, or a free 15min consultation to see if Somatic Experiencing is right for you, you can contact Aaron at ashiatsu@hotmail.co.uk

Aaron Whelan   

Practitioners