Somatic Experiencing was developed by Dr. Peter Levine following his observation that animals in the wild do not get traumatized even though nearly every day they confront life threatening situations. At HeadWaters, we have found that having talented somatic practitioners contributes significantly to recovery and to a renewal of spirit. Somatic Experiencing works through bypassing the higher cognitive centers of the brain and working with sensations that are associated with the primitive part of the brain by way of the autonomic nervous system. Alcohol, drugs or other compulsive behaviors can be used as ways to self-medicate in an effort to deny or escape from uncomfortable experiences, emotions or traumatic stress. Somatic Experiencing is based on the notion that trauma is at least partly a physiological condition. Therefore, the body must be included in the therapy.
When someone experiences trauma, survival energy — similar to the type seen in animals in the wild — becomes trapped in the body. Somatic Experiencing strives to discharge and neutralize this negative tension. As the therapy progresses, pent-up physical energy is often released in the form of trembling, sweating, crying or yawning.
Breathwork is one of the effective areas by which clients may be involved in experiential somatic therapies. The practice can bring up a lot of emotions or put the body in a deep state of meditative relaxation, which people with addictions often can’t reach because they don’t know techniques for self-regulation — either emotionally or physically. Yoga practice, also a program offering, produces similar benefits for body, mind and spirit.