Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a pioneering body-based approach to mastering self-regulation and healing trauma. It focuses on experiencing the ‘felt sense’ of being in the present moment to relieve the physical, emotional and psychological effects of post-traumatic stress and other stress and trauma related health issues.

Somatic Experiencing was founded and developed by Dr. Peter Levine who wrote the well-known book, Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma and many others. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatised. Instead, they utilise innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with the defensive survival behaviours of fight, flight or freeze. These mechanisms provide animals with ways to deal with trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly ”charged” life-threatening experiences.

Although humans have virtually the same regulatory mechanisms as animals, the function of these instinctive systems is often overridden or inhibited by the ”rational” part of our more highly developed brain, the neo cortex, or by learned behaviours. These restraints prevent the complete discharge of survival energies and do not allow the nervous system to regain its equilibrium. The body stays in a state of alertness even if the ‘danger’ is no longer present. Over time a variety of symptoms can develop including stress, anxiety, hyper vigilance, shut down, dissociation, addictions, depression.

Using the innate ability humans have to overcome trauma, SE encourages and utilises the awareness of sensations in the body (or somatic experiences) to help people re-negotiate and resolve the effects of their trauma. The approach allows the instinctual actions that were unable to complete at the time of the trauma to be safely and gradually discharged in present time.

While gently pacing the process so that each individual can safely assimilate the changes within their nervous system, SE® helps return a sense of aliveness, relaxation and wholeness to the individual.

Somatic Experiencing differs from traditional talk based therapies in that you do not need to tell your trauma story to heal from trauma. In fact, for many this can be re-traumatising. Instead, your SE Practitioner will focus on what is happening in your body as you are sharing what is happening in your life currently.

“Somatic Experiencing® teaches clients how to track sensation in the body … to elicit the intrinsic healing capacity for self-regulation and healing that all humans share. Connecting the client to the experience of their innate healing wisdom supports mastery and restores self-confidence and the inner experience of core intactness,  regardless of previous experiences”

– Dianne Poole-Heller (MA, LPC, NCC, Ph.D., SE Practitioner)

What Somatic Experiencing Can Help You With

Is Somatic Experiencing a Good Fit For You?



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