A body-oriented therapy to heal trauma and stress using a language of sensations to restore the inner equilibrium of the nervous system, increase resilience to stress, and enhance capacity to self-regulate.
Why talking about stress and trauma might not be enough
“When a person is exposed to overwhelming stress, threat or injury, they develop a procedural memory. Trauma occurs when these implicit procedures are not neutralized.” Peter A Levine, PhD
Just like one never forgets how to ride a bicycle even after years without practice, the body holds onto patterns that are ingrained in procedural memory.
Some of these patterns, having been useful and adaptive in the past, might become rigid and limiting as time goes by.
This also is the case with stress, anxiety and trauma.
In response to a life threat or an overwhelming event, the nervous system may activate a protective mechanism that is vital in a moment of danger but limits our capacity to actively engage in life in the long run.
This is the reason why it might not be quite possible to talk yourself out of stress, anxiety and trauma without re-balancing the nervous system patterns.
Somatic Experiencing is a body-oriented psychotherapy that helps you understand the existing patterns, adjust them and restore the equilibrium of the nervous system.
Linking bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviors, Somatic Experiencing helps you to create new experiences in the body, replacing tension, overwhelm and over-activation with a sense of safety, vitality and self-regulation.
Somatic Experiencing is a ‘body first’ approach where we use the body and its sensations as the main resource. As such it does not require in-detail verbal exploration of traumatic history and overwhelming events. The re-negotiation of trauma happens on procedural memory level, respecting the nervous system's tolerance and timing.
The founder of Somatic Experiencing, Dr. Peter Levine, describes this approach as 'naturalistic' as it recognizes and taps into the human being's innate capacity to overcome the effects of trauma and stress.
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