Somatic Experiencing, Somatic Integration, and Body Psychotherapy

Somatic Experiencing, Somatic Integration, and Body Psychotherapy

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Animals have a keen ability to recover from trauma innately once it’s no longer present.

Humans on the other hand hold onto their trauma with lingering feelings of shame, guilt, and fear, and often develop conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The traumatic experience literally becomes “stuck” in our bodies, which can take a huge toll on our physical and emotional well-being and have reverberating effects on our relational connections, self-worth, and ability to function.

That’s where the method of Somatic Experiencing and Somatic Therapy come in.

Somatic Integration, Somatic Experiencing, and Body Psychotherapy address the long term effects of trauma by helping people fully process their traumatic experiences in their bodies rather than by simply speaking about them.

Somatic Integration and Body Psychotherapy are multi-dimensional approaches, taking inspiration from many different areas of study such as Biology, Psychology, Stress Psychology, Ethology, Neuroscience, indigenous healing practices and Medical Biophysics.

Somatic Experiencing and Somatic Integration work by tapping into our autonomic nervous system (ANS), which encompasses the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and the enteric nervous system.

All of these systems react in particular ways in the face of trauma: fight, flight, or freeze. 

Although the autonomic nervous system is designed to be self-regulating, when a traumatic experience occurs and isn’t fully processed in your body, your system can get out of whack.

That means even though the traumatic event or threat is long gone, your body still responds as though it is in the presence of trauma and threat.

For example, if you were hit by a car in the past, your body may go into a trauma response every time you see a similar-looking car or have to cross a busy street.

Somatic Experiencing and Somatic/Body Psychotherapy are designed to help re-regulate your system back to the way it operated before the traumatic event occurred.

If your trauma is preventing you from fully functioning and living your best life, then it is time to seek professional help from one of our Somatic therapists or wellness professionals.

What does a typical Somatic integration session look like?

Well, sessions typically involve gradually exposing you to traumatic material—photos, sounds, old memories—and then checking in with your internal responses, like your heart rate and shift in posture.

If you start experiencing heightened physical responses, your therapist will supply you with self-regulating tools, like “pendulating,” which is a method in which you alternate between recognizing traumatic sensations and sensations that bring you strength and peace.

By pairing traumatic associations with pleasant ones, you will begin to integrate your trauma, re-establishing a sense of inner safety, nervous system regulation, and groundedness. 

The hope is that the next time you see the proverbial car that looks similar to the one from your accident, your body will not perceive it as a threat.

Somatic Experiencing is a helpful tool that can be used in many instances with a wide range of communities, including veterans, first responders, addicts, rape victims, and children who have experienced abuse.

Our highly trained therapists will always go at a pace that you are comfortable with––that’s a huge part of healing trauma as well.

Although part of the process of Somatic Experiencing and Body Psychotherapy involves introducing triggering material, the process of SE is designed to avoid re-traumatizing you by teaching you to slow down, learn grounding skills, and allow your body to process the trauma at the pace that feels safe for you. 

We are here to help you leave your trauma in the past so you can recover a sense of peace, vitality, and inner and outer safety,  

OUR THERAPY METHODS

Therapy can successfully improve your life by helping you minimize the anxiety in your life, identify and change underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and provide you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.

To experience true and lasting joy in our life, we must face and conquer our pain by healing our underlying trauma and confronting our fears. 

See the About Therapy page for a deeper look into this process. 

Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated by research to be effective in addressing a wide range of issues, such as trauma.

Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page. 

WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A SOMATIC INTEGRATION EXPERTS NOW

If you have any questions, contact one of our somatic integration specialists for a free consultation any time.

RESOURCES

  1. Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute

Somatic Therapists

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