Experiencing Somatic Experiencing®

Somatic Experiencing® can help you to:

  • learn about the physiology of stress, emotional distress and trauma;
  • increase your curiosity about how the body feels inside, your tolerance for unfamiliar sensations and feelings, and your sense of comfort and vitality;
  • gain relief from chronic pain, tension, discomfort, and anxiety;
  • become more aware of the parts of you that are whole and functioning well so that you’re better equipped to cope with overwhelming situations and face them with an increasing sense of power and resiliency.

Typically, you sit comfortably opposite the practitioner, take time to settle, and then identify whatever issue you’d like to work with. Rather than focus on “the story,” the practitioner will encourage your awareness of how your body feels, guiding your exploration - without judgment – of related sensations, impulses toward movement, emotions, and images as they arise. The practitioner may ask the you about sensations such as heaviness, tightness, or dizziness.

A key component to enhancing one’s ability to self-regulate is the practice of alternating, or “pendulating,” between sensations associated with trauma and those that are a source of strength and comfort. The practitioner will help you identify places of safety, whether that be a place in the body that is not activated by the trauma, or a remembered or imagined place of safety to retreat to in one’s mind. Each pendulation allows for the release of accumulated stress, often experienced as tingling, warmth, spontaneous deep breaths, involuntary muscle movements such as twitching, or yawning.

Gradual, step-by-step pendulation cycles – a process called “titration” – proceed at a deliberate pace that avoids retraumatization. Typically a session ends with reorienting to the room, establishing a sense of feeling settled, and conversation that helps reintegrate the experience.