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Somatic Experiencing




Peter Levine studied the organismic responses that animals have to survival-based situations and started to wonder why animals seemed to be able to literally shake off these experiences without long-term health affects, while some people's lives are daunted by them. Through studying the branches of the autonomic nervous system and looking at them evolutionarily, Levine developed a method for assisting clients to restore their innate capacity through balancing the expressions of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems (fight/flight with rest/digest).

Like craniosacral work, in order to get the full benefits out of this process-based practice, a number of sessions are required. In SE the practitioner tracks the client's somatic experience with them and helps to mirror, contain and redirect in order to support optimal nervous system coherence and thus healthy experience. This approach involves talk and can include negotiated touch. SE is different from a traditional talk therapy model in that it's not all about the story, it's about what the body is expressing, sensing, wanting to do and how it is best supported. Sometimes the story doesn't even need to be told.

After sessions clients may experience a boost in energy or the desire to rest for several days. Over a number of sessions, negative associations and bracing patterns in the body may be released, allowing for increased responsivity, a more developed sense of agency, clearer boundaries, postural ease and general joie de vivre.

SE is often considered and helpful in cases of:

  • Physical accidents

  • overwhelming situations/close calls

  • life-threatening experiences

  • PTSD

  • anxiety, depression

  • emotional/physical abuse

  • developmental/relational issues

  • birth/prenatal experiences

  • a desire to get in touch with the felt sense/intuition


the work of Peter Levine
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