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What Is Somatic Experiencing and How Can It Help With Trauma Recovery?

Somatic experiencing is a form of therapy that has been effective in treating trauma. The root word soma comes from the ancient Greek word for the body. Somatic experiencing is a therapeutic approach to treating trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental health issues that emphasizes the mind-body connection.

Somatic experiencing is a specific type of somatic therapy that was developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Individuals recovering from traumatic experiences can benefit from somatic experiencing, as trauma has an impact on both the physical and mental wellness of the individual. We all have probably heard of the flight-or-fight response that humans and animals have to threats in their environments.

The flight-or-fight response takes over by activating the organism to either run from the threat or to combat the threat. Somatic experiencing is based on the freeze response. The freeze response occurs when a threat to an organism causes the organism to stop or freeze up without taking any action. Most people experiencing distress following trauma have responded to threatening events or disturbing events by freezing up.

Somatic experiencing works on dealing with the trapped energy from freezing up in response to a threat. While the energy from the flight-or-fight response was activated, freezing up trapped all the energy that would have been used to escape or battle the threat. The energy remains stored inside your body, leaving you in a state of high-alert and feeling like you are always in danger.

Somatic experiencing emphasizes dealing with the bodily symptoms of trauma caused by this trapped energy, such as muscle tension, sleep issues, digestion issues, and breathing problems. By first dealing with the physical symptoms, you can then begin to tackle the mental and emotional symptoms of trauma. By restoring our bodies, we can find the strength to restore our minds and heal from our emotional pain.

Trauma and PTSD have an effect on our bodies, as well as, our minds. Holistic, whole-self approaches to trauma recovery that treat both mind and body offer the best chance for overcoming traumatic experiences. Somatic experiencing is just one of many approaches to achieving mind-body wellness. The Guest House has staff trained in somatic experiencing and other holistic approaches to treating trauma. Call us today at (855) 483-7800 for information on helping yourself or someone that you care about.