Somatic Experiencing Therapy in Denver

Somatic Experiencing

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.

Patient engaging in Somatic Experiencing Therapy in Denver, CO, guided by a therapist to promote healing and stress reduction.

Throughout years of evolution, our bodies and nervous systems have developed strategies to respond to stress. Our innate responses include:

  • Fight
  • Flight
  • Freeze/Collapse

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 to overwhelming 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.

What Is Somatic Experiencing (SE) Therapy?

Somatic experiencing therapy is a form of redirection for patients who suffer from extreme trauma and stress. Instead of focusing on the emotional experience of certain sensations, the therapist will focus on the physical body. The premise of the therapy is that trauma can be stored in the body as opposed to processed and released. If the patient can tap into the stored trauma through bodily motions, they may be able to work through the emotions to come out on the other side.

What Are The Components Of Somatic Experiencing Therapy?

  • Body awareness: Clients are encouraged to pay close attention to bodily sensations, which are known as somatic sensations. This can include feelings of discomfort, tightness, heat, or more neutral or pleasant sensations.
  • Titration: This is the breaking down of traumatic memories into small manageable parts. This process allows the client to work through the trauma without being re-traumatized. 
  • Pendulation: Pendulation is the movement between regulation and dysregulation. Pendulation helps clients learn how to self-regulate by experiencing tension and subsequent relaxation. 
  • Discharge: Discharge initiates the release of negative energies in the body. This may present as crying, trembling, or other forms of physical release. 

Who Can Benefit From Somatic Experiencing Therapy?

Somatic experiencing therapy is ideal for people who have experienced traumatic events and those dealing with unresolved stress from childhood. It can also be used to treat somatic symptoms that lack a clear medical diagnosis. 

What Are The Methodologies of Somatic Experiencing Therapy?

Somatic experiencing therapy uses several techniques in resolving trauma symptoms. At the beginning of therapy, clients use resource identification techniques that help them safely explore traumatic memories. These can include happy memories and positive body sensations. 

Somatic tracking involves paying close attention to bodily sensations that occur when recalling a traumatic event. Many traumatic responses are incomplete survival reactions. SE therapy allows for the completion of these responses, thus allowing the client to move through the trauma successfully.

What Is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner?

A somatic experiencing practitioner is an expert on the techniques of SE therapy. It’s important to work with a trained professional if you’re interested in this service. If you’re working through extreme versions of your disorder, the results can vary widely depending on who you choose to partner with. You’ll want to work with not only someone you trust but someone who has a strong track record with this special type of therapy.

Can You Expect Trauma Healing With Somatic Experiences?

It’s not always easy to predict exactly how a patient will react to somatic experiences. However, for those who may have tried other types of therapy with little to no success, it’s important not to give up on yourself. Whether you’re dealing with one traumatic event or a series of them, somatic experiencing can help you remove yourself from the core triggers so you can turn your thoughts to the present. It’s common for people to get stuck with trauma, but there are ways to come back from it.

Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in Training 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!

Location Map: 6000 East Evans Avenue Denver, CO 80222

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