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Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. 

They arise when residual energy from the experience is not discharged from the body. 

This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds...

                                                                                                                                                                 ~ Peter Levine

What Is Somatic Experiencing (SE)?


Somatic Experiencing was founded and developed by Dr. Peter Levine based on his observation and research of animals in the wild and how they recover from life threatening situations.


Dr. Levine recognized that although routinely threatened, animals in the wild are rarely traumatized.  In his studies, Dr. Levine determined that wild animals allow their nervous systems to complete its natural cycle of discharging excess energy that follows escape from a dangerous situation. They literally “shake it off.”  Like animals in the wild, we humans are also hard wired with the same survival response of fight, flight or freeze that becomes activated when we experience a perceived threat. Humans however, have a higher developed brain, the neo-cortex that often overrides our innate mechanisms of self-regulation.  It is through socialization and learned behaviors that we develop judgments, shame, fear and rationalizations that may cause us to block and prevent the nervous system from completing its cycle – we don’t want people to see us shaking, or crying, or running.  Consequently the excess energy from our stress response will get stored in our body and cause an imbalance in our nervous system. As a result, the body remains in a state of high alert even if the ‘danger’ is no longer present and over time various symptoms can develop. Sleep, digestion, immune, respiration and cardiac system function can be compromised when the nervous system does not reset after an overwhelming experience.  A range of other physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral symptoms can develop as a result of unresolved physiological distress.  It will be unique to each person.


Not Just For Trauma

It is important to keep in mind that the concept of a traumatic event is actually in the person’s perception or response to the event, rather than the actual event itself.  With this in mind, in addition to major traumatic incidents, somatic experiencing can also be extremely helpful for the less obvious experiences that often lead to, or are a result of, dysregulation in the nervous system.  Examples include:


  • Car accidents

  • Chronic stress and tension

  • Chronic Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic attacks and Phobias

  • Any type of assault or accident

  • Surgeries and other medical trauma

  • Feelings of abandonment, rejection, neglect

  • Impulsivity & Obsessive Compulsive behaviors

  • Disproportionate reactions

  • Self-destructive behaviors

  • Relationship Conflicts

  • Sleep disturbance



Our Sessions

Somatic experiencing is a gentle approach that basically bypasses the cognitive brain centers and works with the body’s natural capacity to heal at a sensation level.  By facilitating the release of energy and natural survival reactions stored during a traumatic event, Somatic Experiencing addresses the root cause of symptoms and moves toward restoration of the body’s innate ability to self-regulate.


In our sessions you will practice attuning to the sensations in your body.  You will be supported as you learn to track and release sensations as they surface. You will learn how to create your own inner resources that help increase your tolerance to difficult sensations and suppressed emotions that arise.  And you will be guided in allowing the body to complete in present time, its instinctual actions that were unable to complete at the time of the trauma.  Through the completion of each cycle and the discharge of excess energy, the nervous system can be restored to its equilibrium.


In somatic experiencing you are not required to retell or relive your traumatic events.  Your capacity to heal does not rely on your memory of the event.  Although there is a cognitive component, SE focuses more on the stories that the nervous system tells through the sensations that occur in its fight, flight and freeze responses.  By releasing the stuck energies at the neurological level, the body reorganizes from the bottom up, inherently creating new meaning at a physical, emotional and cognitive level.   What was once considered fear could be transformed into confidence.  A previous trigger could be neutralized and a distorted belief could be replaced by one of empowerment. 





You can find more information on Dr. Levine’s work at


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