“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.