Somatic Experiencing

Discover the transformative power of this humanistic body-centered method of healing to transform pain, regulate stress, and promote the body’s innate capacity to heal.

“Trauma is not what happens to us but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness”

– Peter Levine, PhD

Developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD, Somatic Experiencing® is based on his multidisciplinary study of the stress physiology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, psychology, and indigenous healing practices. The SE™ approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motoric responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body and nervous system. It is a gentle approach that assists in building tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.

Somatic Experiencing® is a body-oriented approach, helping individuals to create new experiences in their bodies; ones that contradict those of tension and stuckness. This means that healing is about exploring the sensations that lie underneath feelings and beliefs, as well as our habitual behavior patterns.

Titration is a key concept in the SE™ approach, that is the “slow release of compressed survival energy”. The SE™ approach focuses on cycles of healing, where a person can sense their way through the normal oscillations of internal sensation – contraction/expansion, pleasure/pain, warmth/cold – but only at the level that a person can tolerate without becoming overwhelmed. This repeated, rhythmic process helps to develop a greater capacity to handle stress and stay in the present moment.

Pendulation is another key concept in the SE™ approach. This term coined by Dr. Levine describes the natural oscillation between opposing forces of contraction and expansion. Somatic Experiencing® utilizes this philosophy to help a client experience a sense of flow in the body and its energy systems.

Dr. Levine discovered that when we experience overwhelming life events, our relationship to the components of the experience fragment so that some parts of the experience get over-emphasized (like a sound or a smell) and others become under-emphasized (like bodily sensation during the event).

His model, uses the acronym SIBAM to explore the channels or component pieces that build a complete experience.

The following are brief descriptions of the channels that SIBAM works with:

Sensation: involves all information coming from your body. It can include things like heat, breathing patterns, muscle tension, sensations from your organs and your experience of your body relative to its position in space (such as the gravitational pull).

Image: refers to the sensory impressions you receive such as sight, taste, smell, sound and touch.

Behavior: refers to observable behavior including gestures, facial expression, and posture. As well as observable autonomic changes (like an increase in heart rate observed via the pulsation of the arteries in the neck) and visceral changes (like the sound of gurgling in the belly that points to a change in the digestive organs).

Affect: refers to the emotions and their felt experience in the body.

‍Meaning: refers to the language used to express meaning – the words used to capture the totality of an experience, which is formed through the first four components of this model: S-I-B-A-M

Learn more about Dr. Levine and his approach here:

“The body has been designed to renew itself through continuous self-correction. These same principles also apply to the healing of psyche, spirit, and soul.”

— Peter A Levine, PhD