Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing at the Trauma Recovery Clinic Edinburgh, London

Anne Cheshire, SEP, is a graduate in Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing® and works one-to-one with those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic stress and other conditions in which their mind-body has suffered overwhelm and cannot regulate itself effectively any more.

SE® and other mind-body approaches to trauma at the Trauma Recovery Clinic are based on research into psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology, the science about how our experiences are encoded neurologically and physiologically and how this affects our thinking and our responses to emotional or stress-related challenges. Our immune and hormonal systems are also affected by our neurological encoding of our experiences, particularly stressful ones.

How does Somatic Experiencing® work?

SE® doesn’t focus on talking about or reliving trauma, or even have to involve touch or bodywork, rather it enters the nervous system which regulates our responses to traumatic events, using our ability to sense what is going on in the body, our ‘felt sense’. 

Examples of what we may feel in the body are physical sensations such as warmth, tingling, tightening and softening. These are signs of what the nervous system is doing in our bodies to help us cope with stress and trauma.

Tracking our physical sensations allows self-regulation of the nervous system

As we pay attention to these sensations, tracking them in the body, we can enable and encourage our nervous system to complete self-regulatory cycles, ones we are born with, but which have been blocked or interrupted.  As your therapist helps you to restore the neurological connection to lost inbuilt responses, you complete the cycles safely, restoring a sense of safety and wholeness to the nervous system.

For instance, by noting what happens in the body when you are anxious, and allowing the autonomic nervous system to complete necessary physiological responses such as heat discharge, trembling, etc. we can gently enter the autonomic nervous system’s hardwiring and bring about fundamental changes to the way you are able to respond consciously and unconsciously to other stressful situations, including those in the past and those which had been entirely overwhelming.

Developing a resilient nervous system

By working slowly in this way to restore the nervous system’s ability to complete its various self-restoring cycles, bit by bit, and releasing tension that your system has created in ‘holding on’, your therapist helps you to recover independently, developing resources to become resilient again and to feel ‘OK’ in the world.

Somatic Experiencing sessions

Individual sessions at the clinic with Anne Cheshire SEP consist of the following. Sessions should be weekly to fortnightly, to maximise effectiveness.

Clear explanations

We will give you clear and concise explanations of how our nervous system and our body encode and use our life experiences, and how this encoding can affect our underlying feelings, and non-conscious responses, as well as our autonomic nervous system responses.

Autonomic nervous system re-regulation.

We will do with you a range of gentle, effective exercises to track responses in the body and re-regulate the autonomic nervous system so that responses to triggers are normalised and integrated into the whole body, creating a new and healthy ‘normal’ setting for the nervous system and helping it eventually to return to a state of ‘relaxed normal’.

Home exercises and first aid

During your SE sessions you will receive exercises you can do at home to help your nervous system re-regulate. These are easy, step by step exercises, which you can do using your new understanding of how your body is responding, to help it to complete cycles and allow tension to release. We also help you develop ‘first aid’ resources to help you control the old nervous system patterns until it is fully used to the new ones.

Autonomic nervous system re-regulation – not talk therapy.

It is not necessary for you to know what caused your symptoms, or necessarily to talk about known causes or traumatic events during the sessions. Digging for psychological insight often blocks recovery. SE® focuses on resetting your nervous system and physiological responses to stress and trauma. During this process your reflective mind will recognize valuable meanings and insights as and when they arise.