What is Somatic Experiencing®?
Somatic Experiencing® is a neurophysical understanding of trauma. The nervous system becomes compromised during and after a trauma event due to the result of the body's “threat response.” The nervous system then, cannot regulate itself without intervention. When we bring curiosity and attention to the body’s sequence of “states not fully processed,” then individuals can shift neuro patterns and symptoms abate.
Somatic Experiencing® uses methods that develop awareness similar to the use of mindfulness and integrates a “Wakeful Witness” that remains available to the individual. Treatment focuses on awakening this inner “Witness” so that integration can occur, decreasing the dissociated parts of Self and bringing a return to a state of well being.
Trauma can be understood as anything that has a lasting negative effect (conscious or unconscious) on a person's mind, body, or spirit, including emotional neglect and abandonment as well as overt abuse or even invasive medical procedures and/or accidents.
Dr. Peter Levine on Trauma
Dr. Peter Levine reports, "No one can heal effectively and efficiently from emotional, physical or spiritual pain and suffering without involving the body." Dr. Levine teaches that trauma is not in the event that took place, but in how un-discharged “fight, flight, and freeze” threat-responses were activated during that event, and then stored within the nervous system. The holding of this powerful energy, unexpressed, is what creates the array of symptoms associated with complex trauma and/or PTSD.
Even though clients have a strong need to tell someone the story of what happened, just telling the "Story," does not change it. What seems to happen is that we continue needing to "tell" the story over and over again, often getting "stuck in the loop" without shifting the impact that it has had on us. I am committed to an integrated body-centered approach to treatment. This heals the roots of trauma and integrates the mind and body's reactive patterning.
What you need to know about Somatic Regulation.
Jennifer Finch, M.A., LPC, NCC, CBCT®, SEP-In Training Level I, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Somatic Experiencing TM Practitioner- In Training Level I who has completed hundreds of hours of advanced specialized training in a number of trauma therapy approaches that focus on neuroscience, biophysiology, attachment and polyvagal theory.
This section aims to help you understand her role in resolving or stabilization physical and emotional symptoms related to complex trauma/PTSD, chronic stress/fatigue, fear, anger, anxiety, shame, health conditions or complex syndromes, dissociation, spiritual emergencies and addictions, as well as in restoring boundaries, regulation, resiliency, empowerment, aliveness and a healthy sense of self.
In keeping with best practices, trauma therapy at Be Here Now Mindfulness, LLC, follows a staged approach, beginning with safety and stabilization, fostering self-regulation and trust in the therapeutic relationship before proceeding with the processing of deeper traumatic material. Like learning to drive a car, we need to make sure there is a good brake system in place before we can press the gas pedal and drive safely.
Trauma Informed Care
Trauma informed care is about understanding the impact of developmental trauma. When we consider early experiences of unpredictable stress or traumatic experiences that impact not just the “story” of who we were, but also the body that carries us into and through our lives, then we can understand the limits of someone’s ability to use creative imagination and perception. Their lives become focused on survival where the need to learn and develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, and cognitively become overridden by the need to survive.
This is a relationship approach, knowing that through relationship, healing can and will happen. This extends to our community and local supports beyond just the family. This is a way of viewing the individual and the community.
What happens in a typical session?
We let your body talk. While each individual and each session is unique, SE sessions do have a certain structure to them. First, we get more attuned to what kind of nervous system you have. We dial in to the experience of attending to your body sensations. We are creating a pathway to release excessive stored energy that may have gotten trapped, frozen, shut down or collapsed at the time of a threatening or traumatic event. In the face of perceived threat or danger, a chain reaction of biological events prepare the body to protect itself. It makes an automatic choice to fight/flight or freeze. We gently and slowly uncouple the stored memory of the event causing dysregulation and suffering through the skill of tracking the sensations in your body. Imagine carefully untangling a knotted up chain necklace, or unwinding a big ball of rubber bands. When you move through your sensations in your body with the added awareness of your “presence” in the now moment, you can reprocess historical events without going numb, getting overwhelmed, discociating or shutting down. Your awareness of your sensations in the now moment serve as a guide. I work to help you stay grounded and oriented to the safety of the present moment.
We essentially are integrating your internal and external environment attuning you to a more calming and settling experience and uncoupling the past traumatic event. If this is challenging we might use movement, imagery, or calming phrases to increase your felt experience of relaxation and ease. Once you have learned how to access this experience, we then begin to move through the sensations associated with the trauma or difficult situation you survived and look to see what movements, energetic discharge, vocalizations or emotions failed to be completed at the time of the event. This way, you start to integrate this experience in more embodied and regulated manner while simultaneously connecting with a growing sense of safety and empowerment.
How do I know if Somatic Experiencing Therapy is right for me?
While there are no guarantees for any therapeutic approach, SE has had great success with people who have experienced acute physical trauma from accidents, high impact falls, near-drownings, surgical procedures, to physical assaults including rape, as well as more chronic or complex trauma such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or deprivation. It can help to reduce symptoms of insomnia, hyper-vigilance, explosive outbursts, exaggerated startle reactions to numbness and dissociation. Clients who benefit from SE report feeling more open, engaged in life, and competent at navigating new challenges.
What is your level of expertise in SE?
I have completed year one of the three year training program to become certified as a SEP or Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. The training includes more than twenty days of workshops, readings, consultations with senior SE clinicians, and my own experience of SE™ sessions are required as well to increase my own awareness.
If you still have questions or are ready to schedule therapy, call me at (678) 428-2730 or email me. If I’m not available, I’ll get back to you promptly and we can discuss your particular concerns and questions about therapy and my practice.