What is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma Therapy and Somatic Experiencing is a method for healing trauma that works with body awareness. It focuses primarily on the symptoms of trauma in the body and nervous system. Sensations are the language of the body, experiencing the body sensations is used as input to process trauma.
Some principles of Trauma Therapy / Somatic Experiencing are:
- This therapy was developed for trauma
- is based on scientific research in the neuro-biology
- works where trauma is in the nervous system, the trauma does not always need to be retold (and relived)
Why Trauma Therapy?
Dr.. Peter A. Levine, the founder of Trauma Therapy / Somatic Experiencing, basing his theory on his observations of wildlife. Animals are regularly threatened with death. Yet they rarely become traumatized. They know instinctively how the intense energy released in survival behavior should regulate and discharge.
We humans are equipped with almost the same regulatory mechanisms as animals. However, these are restricted or blocked by the rational part of our brains. We can for example ‘great love’ or ‘continue’, a complete discharge in the way. This can result in (post) traumatic stress symptoms.
- anxiety, panic, palpitations, shallow breathing, excessive alertness or irritability, restlessness, insomnia
- depression, exhaustion, feelings of helplessness or powerlessness, loss of strength in the muscles
- dissociation, feeling that (part of) your body is not yours, restricted range of affect
- disclaimer: the trauma did not happen or it is not important
How does Trauma Therapy works?
In Trauma Therapy works with the ‘felt sense’. Awareness of bodily sensations, to help the body tension. Examples of these bodily sensations include warmth, tingling, goose bumps, faster or slower heart rate or breathing. With the proper guidance to the embodied sense can the body’s restore self-healing power.
Within Trauma Therapy you work with awareness of resources that support the operation process. Examples of internal resources include: your sense of humor, contact with the ground, feeling of power, creativity, your intelligence. External resources can be any form of support, for example by friends, family, a nice place, positive memories. These give the body a sense of confidence and relaxation. That breaks the vicious circle of persistent and self-reinforcing tension.
By all small steps, to go in and out of the tension, the client still has the feeling to be self in control. The blocked survival energy becomes discharged in a safe and gradual way. After discharge these people they often experience a sharp decline in their stress symptoms.
Trauma Therapy in practice
A Trauma Therapy session lasts one to one and a half hours and starts with an introductory conversation leading to agreement on what the session examined. When someone has experienced a single traumatic event, it can often do with a limited number of sessions.