Somatic experiencing is a form of therapy directed toward relieving symptoms of and healing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in addition as physical and mental trauma-induced health problems. Though many other therapies work to relieve and heal those disorders, somatic experiencing therapy is rare in that it focuses on a person’s body sensations.
Somatic experiencing therapy focuses on the body and its physical feelings. It is completed in confront-to-confront sessions similar to traditional psychotherapy. Unlike traditional therapy, though, it takes less time to get the same results. In some situations, one to six sessions suffice. It involves having a client track his or her own felt sense experiences. Felt sense relates to the physical feelings of emotions that come along with any one experience before there are words for those feelings. In tracking these felt sense experiences, a client will grasp a better understanding of emotions connected to his or her traumatic experience(s). This also helps a client become more aware of physical elements such as body tension that stay with the body after a trauma occurs. This is called a survival response.
Survival responses are quite commonly discussed and include the three F’s.
- Fight – Fighting the feelings associated with trauma
- Flight – Running away from the feelings associated with trauma
- Freeze – Becoming numb to the feelings associated with trauma
Somatic experiencing has been found effective in two certain types of trauma:
- Shock trauma – This kind of trauma occurs from a single incident such as a car collision, natural disaster or war experience.
- Developmental trauma – This kind of trauma relates to psychological damage during child development caused by an insufficiently nurtured relationship with parent(s)/guardian(s) or when a child does receive sufficient attention from a parent/guardian.
This is not a therapy one can get from a traditional psychotherapist or psychiatrist. For a therapist to be able to practice somatic experiencing, he or she must complete a three-year certification training course so they are sufficiently trained to assist in healing and relieving symptoms of traumatic experiences.
This is a useful form of therapy that works for victims of any kind of trauma. It can be used alone or supplemented with other therapies to create optimal results.