"Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence."
Peter Levin, PhD
Somatic Experiencing®, a body approach for resolving trauma
The approach I am working with is called Somatic Experiencing (SE). It is a talk-based therapy which uses the wisdom of the body to heal trauma, restore connection to ourselves and allow us to live our life with joy and serenity.
Peter Levin, Ph.D. is the founder of Somatic Experiencing. He believes that we can gently free ourselves from trauma by transforming the physical sensations related to it. For him the trauma is not in the event itself but stuck in the nervous system. Therefore, contrary to a traditional talk-therapy which engages the story by revisiting the past, body oriented therapy engages the story by noticing the body in the present moment.
Somatic Experiencing uses the concept of “felt sense” to help regulate and restore the autonomic nervous system. This means that therapy isn’t about reclaiming memories or changing our thoughts and beliefs about how we feel, but looking at the sensations that lie underneath our feelings, and uncovering our habitual behaviour patterns to these feelings.
Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. It may result from a wide variety of stressors like accidents, falls, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse or neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma or a pandemic like the one we are facing right now. All impact our sense of trust and safety.
Et comment cela fonctionne-t-il ?
Peter Levin and the fundaments
Doctor of medical biophysics and psychology, Peter Levin worked with the NASA as a stress consultant. Since 1970, he is interested in the instinctual release of trauma in animals. He transposed his discoveries from the animal world to humans and is the founder of Somatic Experiencing®.
Dr. Levine was inspired to study stress on the animal nervous system, when he realized that animals are constantly under threat of death, yet show no symptoms of trauma.
What he discovered was that trauma has to do with the third survival response to perceived life threat, which is freeze. When fight and flight are not options, we freeze and immobilize, like “playing dead.” This makes us less of a target.
However, this reaction is time-sensitive, If the immobility phase doesn’t complete, then that charge stays trapped, and from the body’s perspective, it is still under threat. The Somatic Experiencing® method works to release this stored energy, and turn off this threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation.
"I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening - a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation. I have little doubt that as individuals, families, communities, and even nations, we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma. In so doing, we will significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams." Peter Levin, PhD