Somatic Experiencing

Sessions available in-person in Edinburgh, and remotely via the web.

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing® is a pioneering approach to physical and psychological symptoms of stress, shock and trauma. It works with your body’s natural self-regulating systems.

Knowledge of trauma’s patterns can both help transform traumatic reactions as well as potentially prevent symptoms developing after an overwhelming event. Practising SE® can be a significant support not just in your own life but for those around you.

SE® is based on the work of American psychotherapist Dr Peter Levine who believes trauma is primarily biological – a physical phenomenon – not, as it is often thought of, an incurable disease that can only be 'managed'.

His theory is based on observations of wildlife. Animals are regularly threatened with death yet rarely traumatised; their survival instinct kicks in, flooding their body with highly charged energy ready for fighting back or running away. When the threat’s passed, that intense energy is discharged and the animal returns to full normal health.

We are all equipped with the same capacity to overcome an overwhelming experience. Yet we also have an upper rational brain that frequently ‘rejects’ the powerful primal instinct of the body. The result is that huge fight/flight energy gets trapped in our nervous system where it can lead to all sorts of symptoms; sometimes immediately, sometimes not until years later.

More information on Dr Levine and Somatic Experiencing® can be found at www.traumahealing.com

The SE® model

For an Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP), your experiences belong to five core components of a therapeutic model called SIBAM:

Sensation - for example, tension, heat, relaxation

Image - internal (memory, dreams, metaphors) or external (an object in the room)

Behaviour - for example, posture, facial expressions, speech, movements

Affect - feelings and emotions

Meaning - beliefs, judgments, thoughts, analysis - often expressed through words

 

Suffering stress, shock or trauma can feel like it cuts right through you. When that happens it points to a compromise in the components of SIBAM, meaning you have become either:

too connected to some, such that the same old pattern appears no matter what; or

disconnected from others, in which you’re numbed and possibly no longer able to experience them.

How does SE work?

Through moment-to-moment awareness of sensations in your body (soma), SE® aims to gently re-establish the natural flow of your life energy, supporting the safe release of symptoms from the nervous system, putting the past where it belongs, and restoring body, heart and mind to a relaxed wholeness.

Using SE® your practitioner will guide you to gently separate the over-connected elements of SIBAM or bring the disconnected elements together, promoting new connections so that all the parts of your experience and you can come back together again. Dr Levine believes that far from being a life sentence, trauma can be a catalyst for real transformation.

SE® doesn't focus on talking about or reliving trauma, or even have to involve touch or body-work, rather it helps you learn to listen to and use the felt sense of the body.

Examples of this would be physical sensations such as warmth, tingling, and contraction. Paying attention to these sensations moment-to-moment supports the powerful self-healing mechanisms we’re born with to do their miraculous work. Trapped stress energy can be safely discharged, helping to restore equilibrium to the nervous system.

The SE® process is also supported by 'resources', unique to the client. Resources bring about a sense of safety to the body and mind, and can be internal e.g. sense of humour, your back’s contact with the chair, or external e.g. an object in the room, a much-loved family member, a place.

By working slowly, step by step in this way, the distressing cycle of symptom escalation can potentially be reversed, and you can gain a steady confidence in your ability to work with your trauma in a safe, conscious and life-affirming way.

What is the aim of SE sessions?

The aim of SE is that you come to have a strong sense of self, a feeling of increased vitality, and that your resilience – your capacity and skills to deal with events and stress day-to-day – is strong and reliable. Engagement with life and with other people, rather than being fraught with difficulties and tension, becomes more possible and enjoyable. On the way to this goal, we are working towards a reduction in the frequency, duration and strength of the difficulties you are experiencing.

What can Somatic Experiencing (SE)® help with?

The key reason for working with SE® need not be an obvious traumatic event but the presence of a symptom or symptoms. Trauma is not in the event but in the individual’s physiological reaction to it. A fairground ride, for example, might be fun for one person but terrifying for another.

What does a session involve?

SE® is as much an education as therapy. You can expect to learn why your mind and body are behaving the way they are, and how you can support them in working together to create new, healthy patterns. As your awareness of your body's unconscious processes begins to increase, you can start to slowly and gently work with them, rather than being confused and alarmed by them, as is often the case.

You are always fully clothed for sessions, and in the sessions I offer, you are most likely (as long as it is comfortable for you) to be seated, sometimes being invited to stand or move around.  Remaining within what is tolerable and reasonably comfortable for you is very important, and something we'll be conscious of throughout the session.

The sessions do not have to involve touch - and if touch is likely to be helpful, it is light and gentle, with no manipulation of tissues, and entirely in consultation with you about what is comfortable. 

How long is a session much does it cost?

Sessions last fifty-five minutes, and are £50.

How many sessions will I need?

Because each person's needs and circumstances are unique, it's not possible to say how many sessions will be needed. Partly it depends on what you want to get from the sessions, and partly it depends on the nature of your trauma or stress. If you have had a single acute trauma such as an accident or an assault, it may be that it will only take a few sessions for your system to regulate again. If you have had (or have also had) very early trauma or repeated or long-term stress or trauma, it may take longer-term work to resolve.

I have also taken further ongoing training in Somatic work with attachment and developmental issues (with Diane Poole Heller), and offer a somatic approach to issues which stem from difficult childhood environments.

 

If you would like to have a chat before booking a session, I am very happy to do that. Just get in touch.

I am a registered Somatic Experiencing Practitioner with SETI (The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, www.traumahealing.com).

 

"When I first contacted Roushan, I had what I can only describe as a darkness inside of me that would not let me be happy. Of course, I laughed, smiled and lived but I never felt truly happy. Roushan took me on a journey that made me laugh (genuinely) and cry but most of all she has allowed me to "be". The constant fretting, second guessing and beating myself up has subsided. I feel so much more confident. Roushan has certainly put the light back into my life and I will always be grateful".

 - S, Edinburgh