What is Somatic Experiencing®?
Somatic Experiencing is a body-based approach designed to help resolve symptoms related to trauma. Trauma refers to an event, or events, that overloaded the nervous system.
Trauma may result from things like car accidents, birth, surgery and other medical events, physical assault, sexual assault, accidents/injuries/falls, abuse and more.
When our nervous system gets overloaded as a result of trauma, it can get stuck in a state of fight, flight or freeze. This limits its ability to respond well to everyday life and physical symptoms such as
- chronic muscle tension
- jaw pain
- irritable bowel syndrome
- chronic pain
- disrupted sleep
- difficulty relaxing
"Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions, we fail to discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations. This energy becomes fixed in specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. The person then stays in a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word - they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult if not impossible to function normally under these circumstances." Peter A. Levine, PhD founder of Somatic Experiencing®
When the nervous system gets "unstuck" and is able to move out of a state of fight, flight or freeze, people often experience a decrease or resolution of the physical symptoms that brought them to seek help.
Fight, flight and freeze are valuable survival strategies when necessary and they're designed to be time-limited. In other words, we perceive a threat, we respond to the threat using fight, flight and/or freeze strategies and then we return to a state of relaxed readiness and move on with our life.
When fight, flight or freeze become long-term coping strategies, when we get stuck there and can't return to a state of relaxed readiness, our body pays the price and symptoms show up.
Somatic Experiencing uses a variety of techniques to help someone complete self-protective responses, move out of fight, flight and/or freeze and return to a state of relaxed readiness.
Along the way, clients may:
- get relief from various physical symptoms
- have a greater sense of ease and safety
- develop resources to support better nervous system regulation
- build a capacity to tolerate stress with less overwhelm
- experience a greater sense of overall well-being in day-to-day life
SE differs from counseling because the focus is on tracking the autonomic nervous system response by noticing body sensations rather than on processing past experiences through talking. While the story may sometimes be important and helpful to provide context for the body experience, our focus is on how the body is responding in order to help someone be present in a more embodied way with greater coherence and regulation of the nervous system.
What to expect
Sessions take place seated, standing or lying on a massage table depending on what would be most helpful for you.
During a session, I may invite you to:
- notice body sensations
- pay attention to your surroundings
- use touch to support nervous system regulation
- explore different movements
With my support, you'll help your nervous system complete defense responses and shift out of fight, flight or freeze. We're working towards helping you develop a set of skills designed to support your body and nervous system in returning to a state of relaxed readiness and in the process help you get relief from symptoms related to autonomic nervous system dysregulation.
Along the way, you'll develop a set of skills to support the regulation of your nervous system. You'll leave each session with different strategies and exercises you can practice at home to support the work we do together.
The work is collaborative in nature. Creating a safe and supportive environment for you is one of my main goals.
Lisa is a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner here in Columbus, Ohio. She has completed the 216-hour Somatic Experiencing® Professional training and additional supervision and personal session requirements. Her areas of specialty include car accidents, falls, concussions as well as birth trauma.
If you're ready to schedule an appointment, click below to see Lisa's current availability and schedule.