Trauma may be loosely defined as overwhelm in the body and mind: too much, too fast, too soon. In overwhelm, the intelligence of the body employs 3 self-protective responses: fight, flight and freeze.
Because these responses are highly charged states, the rational mind tends to override and inhibit their full expression. And it is this restraint that traps and compresses the energy in the body, causing the dysregulation of normal functions, physical, emotional and mental.
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Can Somatic Experiencing help me?
Weight gain and low energy. Chronic pain, allergies, digestive disturbances. Headaches, dizziness, TMJ. Difficult relationships, frustration, depression, anxiety, procrastination, feeling stuck, or disconnected. We may be baffled, where do these symptoms come from? They are all possible signs of compressed energy, or trauma, in the body.
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Does Somatic Experiencing clear symptoms?
Symptoms are a result of the body’s attempt to contain compressed energy. Contrary to modern belief, the resolution does not lie in stopping the symptom. Instead, an SE practitioner utilizes a dynamic interplay between memory, body sensations, and dialogue to gradually and safely discharge compressed frozen biological energy. In the completion of this biological freeze response, the nervous system can regain its inherent capacity to self-regulate. The completion of this former nervous system pattern results in an obvious reduction or disappearance of chronic symptoms.
These drawings are a by an 11-yr old boy who was experiencing dropping grades and challenges with respect in relationships. Worked involved two physically traumatic incidents, one which he understood to have been potentially fatal.
You can see the release of the freeze pattern in his body from the drawings, with the “before” on the left, and the “after” on the right. This change happened in 1 day, bolstered by the generous support of a family member. After that, his grades improved from former C/D’s to A’s and B’s, and his relationship with family and friends shifted dramatically. Indeed, it takes a whole family, and a village.
Who Developed Somatic Experiencing?
Dr. Peter Levine developed Somatic Experiencing® by observing how wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Instead, they use innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of arousal associated with life-threatening situations, allowing them to return to normal balance once the threat is over. Dr. Levine has doctorates in medical and biological physics from the University of California-Berkley and a Ph.D. in psychology from International University. He has researched the psychology and physiology of trauma for over 35 years and is the author of “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.”
Gloria Gonzalez, CMT SEP, is founder and CCO of Eight Elements West, a Center for Somatic Training and Integrative Clinic in La Jolla, California established in 1985. Work with clients aligns whole person wellness to transform the inner mind, heart, and physical body. This full approach to healing developmental, traumatic and accumulated stress aligns the self to re-establish a future with greater purpose, relationship and empowerment.
Alternative healing modalities include Somatic Experiencing, Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Yoga in the style of Iyengar, and Nia, to offer bottom-up and top-down awareness. Gloria works with high functioning leaders – managers, executives, moms, dads, husbands, wives, those in charge of the lives of others – to enhance fulfillment in life, from healing pain, to developing greater resilience, to enjoying longevity with family and community.
Levine, P. and Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. (2010). In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.
Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Kline, M. and Levine, P. (2007). Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.