Somatic Experiencing Therapy

Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Somatic Experiencing promotes awareness and release of nervous system arousal and physical tension that remains in the body in the aftermath of trauma.

This arousal and tension in the body occurs because the survival responses (fight, flight or freeze) of the autonomic nervous system are aroused, but are not fully discharged after the traumatic situation has passed. This can have a profound effect on the trauma survivor’s emotional, physical and spiritual well being. Nervous system arousal symptoms may include anxiety, depression, anger, addiction, chronic pain and more.

Somatic Experiencing interventions allow a trauma survivor to track his or her “felt sense,” using the body to restore the nervous system’s inherent capacity to self-regulate and return to a state of relaxed alertness, promoting a holistic sense of well being.

Many survivors of sexual abuse and/or assault, and also many people with eating disorders, have difficulty being “in” their body in a safe way. In essence, they have worked to disconnect from their systems. Therefore, trauma resolution for many survivors can seem overwhelming and difficult. SE provides a missing piece in trauma healing as it helps the client work through the body trauma in a safe way.

To be able to provide SE, a clinician is asked to complete a three year extensive training. Healthy Futures therapists Mia Elwood and Kim Lipsman are SEPs (Somatic Experiencing Practitioners). Team members Jeanne Phillips and Sheri Robenstine are working toward their SEP designations.

For more information on Somatic Experiencing, see Or click here to download a thorough and interesting PDF about Somatic Experiencing by Dr. Susan Kriegler.

Somatic Experiencing Resources

By Peter Levine:

  • Healing Trauma- with audio CD
  • Waking the Tiger
  • In an Unspoken Voice
  • Freedom from Pain- with audio CD
  • Trauma Proofing Your Kids

Podcast interviews with Peter explaining SE and trauma:

Peter A. Levine discussing the use of SE with Children:

Other authors: