What is Somatic Experiencing (SE)?
SOMATIC EXPERIENCING (SE) is a potent psychobiological method for resolving trauma symptoms and relieving chronic stress. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. SE offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight, freeze, or collapse responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states.
How does SE work?
SE facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. SE does not require the traumatized person to re-tell or re-live the traumatic event. Instead, it offers the opportunity to engage, complete, and resolve—in a slow and supported way—the body’s instinctual fight, flight, freeze, and collapse responses. Individuals locked in anxiety or rage then relax into a growing sense of peace and safety. Those stuck in depression gradually find their feelings of hopelessness and numbness transformed into empowerment, triumph, and mastery.
SE catalyzes corrective bodily experiences that contradict those of fear and helplessness. This resets your nervous system, restores inner balance, enhances resilience to stress, and increases people’s vitality, equanimity, and capacity to actively engage in life.
Would SE be a good therapy for me?
Many clients seek SE for resolving both outstanding traumatic events as well as relational and attachment disruptions when they have engaged in traditional talk therapy and found it to be unhelpful. Some trauma therapies request that you re-tell and re-live your traumas, which can exacerbate mental health symptoms related to not just PTSD but also depression, anxiety, and addictions.
SE is gentle and quickly effective for many people. The fundamental values of SE stray from traditional models that pathologize the body and it’s adaptations to overwhelm. SE celebrates the body’s inherent nature to heal and can assist you gently towards your goal of emotional and physical stability.
What Happens in a SE Session?
Somatic Experiencing sessions are generally 60 minutes and combine features of traditional talk therapy such as psychoeducation and affrimation as well as more body oriented treatments such as tracking sensations and becoming curious about subtle movements in your body. SE practitioners can also use guided imagery during sessions. In some instances gentle touch on your arm or back is an option if the issue being treated indicates SE touch and only after the patient has given clear consent. At all times the patient is being given direction and rationale for the interventions and is very much involved in the process. Many patients feel more relaxed and present in their bodies after SE sessions.
What can SE treat/manage other than Post Traumatic Stress?
Chronic depression – Unmanageable Anxiety – Complicated grief
Pain Disorders – Chronic Fatigue – Fibromyalgia
Getting Started with SE
Several Practitioners at the MindPath Care Center in Durham are offering an introductory rate of $100 per a 60 minute session for patients seeking SE for trauma therapy. SE sessions are considered fee-for-service and are not billable to insurance at this time. Some clients attend approximately 4-8 sessions of SE for relief from incident and shock traumas that were not relational or ongoing. If you would like to use SE to heal developmental and interpersonal traumas as well as attachment disruptions,you should discuss with your provider in your initial evaluation to assess how many sessions you can anticipate engaging in.
To become a SE patient, please contact our Intake Department HERE.
J. Louise Newton, MSW, LCSW, SEP
J. Louise Newton is the Clinical Director of Psychotherapy at MindPath Care Centers, and the Clinic Director of her group practice at Catalyst Somatics and Psychotherapy in Durham. Louise has been with MindPath Care Centers since early 2013. She earned her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and her Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Louise has worked as a provider in mental health programming since 2003, providing individual and group treatment services to incarcerated and court-ordered clients with trauma-informed treatment programming, and addressing the intersection of mental health, addiction, and trauma in men’s and women’s gender-responsive treatment settings.