Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) is a form of therapy that aims to help individuals who have experienced trauma or stress to overcome the negative effects of these experiences. SET is a body-oriented approach that focuses on the physical sensations and experiences that arise from trauma, rather than just the psychological or emotional aspects of the trauma. This approach can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced trauma that is stored in the body, such as physical or sexual abuse.
The goal of SET is to help individuals release the physical and emotional tension that is stored in their bodies as a result of trauma. This can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including gentle touch, movement, and breathing exercises. By working with the body in this way, individuals can learn to regulate their nervous system and reduce the symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety, depression, and flashbacks.
While SET is often used to help individuals who have experienced trauma, it can also be beneficial for those who are experiencing chronic stress or anxiety. By learning to tune into their physical sensations and experiences, individuals can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and learn to regulate their emotions more effectively. Overall, SET is a powerful tool that can be both therapy and wellness treatment that can help individuals to heal from the effects of trauma and stress, and to live more fulfilling lives.
What is Somatic Experiencing Therapy?
Somatic Experiencing Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the physical sensations and experiences of the body to help individuals heal from trauma and stress. This therapy was developed by Dr. Peter Levine, who believed that trauma is stored in the body and can be released through physical and emotional experiences.
The goal of Somatic Experiencing Therapy is to help individuals become more aware of their physical sensations and to learn how to regulate them. This therapy involves the use of touch, movement, and other physical exercises to help individuals release tension and stress from their bodies.
During a Somatic Experiencing Therapy session, the therapist may ask the individual to focus on a specific physical sensation or to move their body in a certain way. The therapist may also use touch to help the individual release tension and stress from their body.
This therapy is often used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma or stress, including those who have experienced physical or emotional abuse, accidents, or other traumatic events. Somatic Experiencing Therapy can help individuals feel more in control of their physical sensations and emotions, and can help them develop a greater sense of resilience and well-being.
The Principles of Somatic Experiencing Therapy
Here are the principles that guide SET:
- Resourcing: This principle involves helping clients develop internal and external resources to cope with the effects of trauma. Internal resources can include skills such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and positive self-talk. External resources can be supportive relationships, hobbies, and other positive activities.
- Titration: This principle involves breaking down the processing of traumatic experiences into smaller, more manageable pieces. This allows the client to process the trauma at a pace that feels safe and comfortable.
- Pendulation: This principle involves shifting the client’s focus between sensations of safety and sensations of discomfort or trauma. This helps the client develop a greater sense of safety and resilience.
- Somatic awareness: This principle involves paying attention to the physical sensations and reactions that arise in response to traumatic experiences. By becoming more aware of these sensations, clients can learn to regulate their emotions and physical responses.
- Completion: This principle involves helping clients process and integrate their traumatic experiences. This can involve revisiting the traumatic event in a safe and supportive environment, and developing a new narrative around the experience.
These principles are designed to help clients develop a greater sense of safety and resilience, and to process and integrate traumatic experiences in a healthy way. By working with a trained SET therapist, individuals can overcome the effects of trauma and move towards a more fulfilling life.
How Somatic Experiencing Therapy Works
Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy is based on the idea that trauma is not just a psychological experience, but also a physical one. The goal of SE therapy is to help individuals release the physical tension and sensations that are stored in the body as a result of trauma.
The therapist helps the individual identify and track physical sensations in the body that are associated with traumatic experiences. This may involve paying attention to things like tightness in the chest, a knot in the stomach, or a tingling sensation in the hands. The therapist then guides the individual through a series of exercises to help them release these physical sensations.
SE therapy also involves working with the nervous system to regulate the body’s response to stress. The therapist may use techniques like deep breathing, visualization, or gentle touch to help the individual regulate their nervous system and feel more grounded and present in the moment.
Overall, the goal of SE therapy is to help individuals restore a sense of safety and connection in their bodies. By releasing physical tension and regulating the nervous system, individuals can begin to heal from the effects of trauma and move towards a more balanced and integrated state of being.
Benefits of Somatic Experiencing Therapy
Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) helps individuals overcome trauma by focusing on the physical sensations in the body. This approach has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
One of the main benefits of SET is that it helps individuals develop a greater awareness of their body and its physical sensations. By doing so, individuals are better able to identify when they are experiencing stress or anxiety and can take steps to manage these feelings before they become overwhelming.
Another benefit of SET is that it can help individuals develop a greater sense of resilience. Through the therapy process, individuals learn how to regulate their nervous system and manage their emotions more effectively. This can help them cope with stress and adversity in a more adaptive way, which can lead to improved mental health outcomes over time.
SET has also been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD. Through the therapy process, individuals learn how to process traumatic memories in a safe and supportive environment. This can help them reduce the intensity of their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
Overall, SET is a promising form of therapy that has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. By focusing on the physical sensations in the body, individuals can develop a greater sense of awareness and resilience, which can lead to improved mental health outcomes over time.
Who Can Benefit from Somatic Experiencing Therapy?
Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) is a form of therapy that is designed to help people recover from trauma. This type of therapy is particularly useful for people who have experienced physical, emotional, or psychological trauma. SET can be beneficial for people who have experienced a wide range of traumatic events, including:
- Car accidents
- Physical or sexual assault
- Natural disasters
- Combat or military trauma
- Childhood abuse or neglect
SET is also helpful for individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that may be related to trauma. It can help people who are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Flashbacks or intrusive thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Chronic pain or tension
SET is a gentle and non-invasive therapy that works by helping people to release the tension and stress that is stored in their bodies as a result of trauma. It is a holistic approach that takes into account the mind, body, and spirit, and can be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy and treatment.
What to Expect During a Somatic Experiencing Therapy Session
Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) is a gentle, non-invasive therapy that helps individuals release pent-up energy and tension that has been stored in the body due to trauma or stress.
During a SET session, the therapist will guide the client through various exercises and techniques to help them become more aware of their physical sensations and emotions. The therapist will help the client identify areas of tension and discomfort in the body and work with them to release this tension through gentle movement and touch.
The therapist will also help the client identify and process any emotions that arise during the session. This may involve talking about past experiences or memories that are related to the client’s current symptoms. The therapist will help the client stay present and grounded in the moment, rather than getting lost in thoughts or feelings.
SET sessions typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. The number of sessions required will vary depending on the individual’s needs and goals. Some clients may see significant improvement after just a few sessions, while others may require longer-term therapy.
It is important to note that SET is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each session is tailored to the individual’s unique needs and experiences. The therapist will work with the client to create a safe and supportive environment that allows for healing and growth.
Overall, individuals can expect to feel more relaxed, grounded, and in tune with their body and emotions after a SET session. With continued therapy, individuals can learn to release stored tension and trauma, leading to improved physical and emotional wellbeing.
How to Find a Somatic Experiencing Therapist
If you’re interested in trying somatic experiencing therapy, the first step is to find a qualified therapist who has been trained in this approach. Here are some tips to help you find the right therapist:
- Check the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy website to search for certified therapists in your area.
- Check the practitioner directory of Somatic Experiencing International.
- Ask for referrals from friends or family members who have tried somatic experiencing therapy or from other healthcare professionals you trust.
- Research potential therapists online and read reviews from other clients to get an idea of their approach and how they work with clients.
- Consider the therapist’s experience and training in somatic experiencing therapy. Look for a therapist who has completed a comprehensive training program and has experience working with clients who have experienced trauma.
Once you’ve found a therapist who seems like a good fit, it’s important to schedule an initial consultation to get a sense of their approach and how they can help you. During this consultation, you can ask questions about their training and experience, as well as their approach to therapy and how they work with clients.
Remember, finding the right therapist is an important part of the healing process, so take your time and don’t be afraid to ask questions or try out a few different therapists before settling on the one that feels right for you.
Somatic Experiencing therapy is a promising approach to treating trauma-related disorders. It has been effective in helping individuals overcome symptoms associated with trauma, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Through the use of gentle touch, movement, and awareness of body sensations, Somatic Experiencing aims to help individuals release the tension and energy that has been trapped in the body as a result of traumatic experiences. This approach is based on the idea that the body has a natural ability to heal itself, and that by accessing and releasing stored energy, individuals can experience a sense of relief and freedom from their symptoms.
While Somatic Experiencing therapy is not a cure-all for trauma-related disorders, it has shown promise in many cases. It is important to note that this approach should be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication, depending on the severity of the individual’s symptoms.
Overall, Somatic Experiencing therapy offers a unique and effective approach to treating trauma-related disorders. It is important for individuals to work with a trained and licensed therapist who specializes in this approach, in order to receive the most effective treatment possible.