Somatic experiencing therapy is a body-oriented approach to therapy that ignites our innate body’s ability to self-regulate and heal. This innate process is activated by increasing one’s internal and external awareness via our nervous system. This is completed by leaning into and out of sensations noticed in the body.
Throughout years of evolution, our bodies and nervous systems have developed strategies to respond to stress. Our innate responses include:
The above responses have worked well throughout the millennia; however, in more a civilized world, these responses come with heavy costs. That’s because after we experience trauma or overwhelming stress, our nervous systems can struggle to fluidly move back and forth between different nervous system states. This can result in many different challenges. These issues can lead to the nervous system:
- Being stuck in activation (hyper-arousal)
- Being stuck in deactivation (hypo-arousal)
- Rapidly shifting between arousal states
- Inability to maintain a regulated nervous system
How Does Somatic Experiencing (SE) Therapy Work?
SE is a bottom-up therapy approach to help people heal from overwhelming stress and/or trauma situations. SE bypasses thoughts and emotional states to help people heal through nervous system awareness and regulation.
As a person increases their internal and external awareness, internal shifts begin to take place. These shifts occur from the release of stored energy in the nervous system that have been stuck from past, painful experiences. The use of gentle and intentional interventions facilitate our innate ability to heal from trauma.
Polyvagel Theory Supports SE
SE is heavily informed by Polyvagal Theory. This theory highlights how our nervous system responds to threat – fight, flight, freeze, and sometimes fawning/appeasement. Polyvagal theory details that we have:
- A Ventral Vagal State – where we feel safe and connected
- A Dorsal Vagal State – where we freeze/collapse in response to overwhelming stress/trauma
- A Sympathetic State – where we fight/flight in response tooverwhelming stress/trauma
What Are the Benefits of SE Therapy?
SE helps to establish a person’s awareness related to internal shifts within the body. This can not only lead to recovery from past traumatic experiences and/or overwhelming stress, but also:
- An improved sense of self
- Increase in self-esteem
- Connection to the present moment
- Creation of internal and external boundaries
- Mood and energy regulation
Another large benefit of SE is the ability to help others co-regulate their nervous systems. This occurs through the use of neurocepetion. As our nervous systems scan the environment, we not only scan for threats and cues of safety but can also help others regulate their nervous systems through exteroception.
Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in Denver
There are many different levels of becoming a SE provider. Currently, Revitalize Mental Health provides the foundation level of SE to support healing and recovery. Reach out now to begin the healing journey!