Feldenkrais Individual Lessons Oxford

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Alessandro Bombardi

I am currently attending the Somatic Experiencing® (SE) training, an intensive part time training over three years. SE is a pioneering body-based approach to overcoming trauma and other stress disorders.

SE™ restores the organism innate capacity to self regulate. This capacity is managed by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). A traumatic shock interferes with the natural ability of the ANS to oscillate between activity and recovery maintaining the dynamic equilibrium of the body.

In an unbalanced state people can experience different and often contradictory symptoms depending on the dominating branch of the ANS. Reported sensations include dissociation, physical collapse, feeling numb and cold, frozen, mute, shallow and fast breathing, but also obsessive and racing thoughts , impulsivity, hypervigilance and many different type of digestive issues.

Somatic Experiencing™ allows to access internal and external resources to create a feeling of safety, trust, strength, confidence and physical expansion.

Based on a multidisciplinary approach, the Somatic Experiencing™ method finds its foundation in the observation of the threat response cycle in the predator/prey survival behavior and its theoretical foundation in the Polyvagal Theory developed by Dr. S. Porges. A key concept of the Somatic Experiencing™ is that: Trauma is in the body and not in the event

The first response to trauma is biological and involves many changes in the body to facilitate survival and minimize pain if an escape is not possible. There is a tremendous amount of energy mobilized by the traumatic event that needs to be discharged in order for the body and the ANS to get back to an optimal functioning. If the ANS is unregulated this energy will be dissipated in the body causing the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms mentioned above.

The felt sense is often neglected in psychotherapy as it is in the body. Both in the Somatic Experiencing™ and in the Feldenkrais Method© The focus of these methods is not on the verbal narrative but on the body stories and the focus is too create a new body narrative to empower us providing new options to go through life.

The beauty of SE™ is that it provides us with simple, yet powerful tools that can be applied both with the support of a therapist to deal with PTSD and CPTSD but also in our daily life to relieve stress and facilitate self-regulation.