Somatic Experiencing (or SE) is a therapy that deals with how our nervous system reacts to traumatic events. When something painful happens, our nervous system goes into overdrive and, among other things, it activates our flight, fight or freeze response.
Somatic Experiencing Therapy
These are meant as short term strategies, for running from tigers or dealing with other short term dangers. When the dangers go on for long periods of time, or the trauma is not processed fully, the energy of these events can get stuck in the nervous system and this can cause emotional, relational and health problems.
Another tricky thing about the nervous system is it isn’t logical… there is no actual way to think yourself out of what your nervous system is saying because it is working at a more basic level than conscious thought. The only way to interact with it is through the soma, the body.
Also – the nervous system literally switches off the thinking part of the brain when the threat is significant. It does this so that the person can react faster in the moment but the effect is that it can make people feel ‘fuzzy-headed’ long after the trauma occurred.
Another issue is that the nervous system is (annoyingly!) not aware of time. So events that passed a long time ago, or that you think you are done with – can affect how we respond to things in the present.
An example of this is when we still believe that other people are a threat even– even if the event that caused this belief has long passed. Our nervous system can override our “logical” knowledge and react as if the threat is still present.
Somatic Therapy works fairly slowly and at a profound level. It is about relearning yourself and your body from the ground up.
It can be scary (/terrifying) to slow down, to actually meet what is underneath the doing, the busyness, the anxiety… but there is a lot of support there for when you do.
Please get in touch if you have questions about SE.