What is Somatic Experience Therapy?

October 14, 2016

Dr. Kim DiRe:  Hi. My name is Kim DiRe, and I’m a psychotherapist.

Mia Elwood:  I am Mia Elwood. We are with Healthy Futures, and we are both Somatic Experiencing Practitioners. Today we’re going to be talking about what Somatic Experiencing is.

Dr. DiRe:  Somatic Experience is a therapy that was developed by Dr. Peter Levine. He watched animals in the wild and noticed how they weren’t traumatized. So he applied that into therapy sessions, where a person can complete self-protective responses in order to release blocked energy. Blocked energy from different kinds of traumas.

Psychotherapists can utilize this therapy and help people, so that they’re not stuck in this place called freeze. Their fight-flight responses can naturally then move through when they need to feel safe, and create safety.

Mia:  I’m going to share a little bit about what Somatic Experiencing is not. Somatic Experiencing is not all about the body. It’s about the body’s physiology. We’re looking at what you’re saying, what you’re doing. Through noticing those things we can notice where you’re at in your physiology, so we can help those blockages move through.

Somatic Experiencing is not voodoo, it’s not something made up. It’s based on science. Those are some of the myths, that people think it’s all about the body, that you’re going to be touched the whole time. It’s very similar to basic psychotherapy. We just add the ideas of looking at healing through the physiology, as a way to heal.

Group of friends studying

When you think of Somatic Experiencing Therapy, do you think of some kind of voodoo therapy?  Think you will be touched the whole time?  Well, those are some of the myths about Somatic Experiencing.

It is really a therapy much like psychotherapy, but looks at one’s physiology to promote healing.  The therapy is based on Peter Levine’s observations of animals in the wild.  Despite the stresses in the wild kingdom and fighting for survival, animals are not traumatized.  The animals in the wild are able to complete self-protective responses in order to release blocked energy.  So, the animals can feel safe again.

In Somatic Experiencing Therapy, we look at one’s physiology when our clients have had traumatic experiences, and we work to release the blocked energy that keeps them in a “freeze” state.  Once the energy is released, the cycle can be completed and the natural fight-flight responses can return so you feel safe again.

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