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Somatic Therapy: Release Trauma with These Exercises!

Somatic Therapy: Release Trauma with These Exercises!

Have you ever wondered how the body and mind can hold on to traumatic experiences long after they have happened? 

The effects of trauma can be long-lasting, far-reaching, and can affect our emotional well-being, physical health, and overall quality of life. However, there is always hope for healing and regaining a sense of inner balance through somatic exercises to release the trauma. Let's dive into the realm of somatic healing today and explore the transformative power of somatic therapy.

Somatic Experiencing - SE

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a therapeutic approach developed by Dr. by Peter A. Levine, who focuses on healing trauma and restoring the body's innate capacity for self-regulation. It recognizes that trauma is not only a psychological phenomenon, but also has significant physiological and somatic (= body-centered) aspects.

Somatic Experiencing aims to address the impact of trauma on a person's nervous system and facilitate the completion of instinctual responses that were interrupted during the traumatic event.

The basic principle of somatic experience is the recognition that the body has an innate ability to heal itself and restore balance within itself. Traumatic experiences often overwhelm the body's natural self-regulatory mechanisms and can result in a state of dysregulation in the nervous system. This dysregulation can manifest itself through symptoms such as hypervigilance, anxiety, dissociation, chronic pain, and other physical and emotional problems.

Through somatic experiencing, individuals are guided to develop a heightened awareness of their bodily sensations and to observe the subtle physiological shifts that occur in response to trauma-related memories or triggers. The therapist creates a safe and supportive environment where clients can explore their feelings, emotions, and thoughts without retraumatization.

TYPICAL REACTION TO TRAUMA

  • Replaying the event in the head ➟ Small things become triggers ➟ Numbness, dissociation.
  • Hypervigilance, anxiety, irritability ➟ Memory loss, difficulty concentrating ➟ Sudden vivid memories of the event.
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame ➟ Risky and impulsive behavior, rage ➟ Increased consumption of narcotic substances.
  • Avoidance of things that remind of the event ➟ Distorted and destructive perception of the world and self ➟ Problems maintaining healthy relationships.

Somatic experiencing can be applied to different types of trauma, from one-off events such as accidents or assaults to complex developmental traumas and chronic stress. It is a flexible approach that can be integrated with other therapeutic modalities, increasing their effectiveness in addressing trauma. It is important to note that somatic experiencing and somatic trauma release exercises are usually practiced under the guidance of a trained therapist who has completed the required training.

Somatic Therapy 

Somatic Therapy is a holistic approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of the body and mind in processing and releasing trauma. It recognizes that trauma is not limited to our thoughts and emotions, but is also imprinted on our physical being. Somatic therapy aims to restore harmony by addressing the body's response to trauma and facilitating its innate ability to heal itself.

Somatic Processing Therapy

Somatic Processing Therapy builds on the foundations of somatic therapy and uses a variety of techniques to engage the body's wisdom in processing traumatic experiences.

By bringing awareness to bodily sensations, movements and feelings, somatic processing therapy helps people tap into their body's innate intelligence and release and integrate unresolved trauma.

How to do it?

Techniques of somatic experience and somatic exercises to release trauma, developed by Dr. by Peter A. Levin, provide a framework for dealing with trauma by focusing on the physiological responses that occur during and after a traumatic event. This approach recognizes that trauma can disrupt the body's natural self-regulatory mechanisms, leading to a state of dysregulation.

Somatic experiencing techniques lead individuals to re-evaluate their relationship to traumatic memories, allowing the body's instinctual responses to be completed and natural balance to be restored.

Here are some effective techniques used in somatic therapy:

  • Exploring bodily responses
    Clients are guided to pay attention to their bodily sensations, which helps them become more aware of how their body responds to stress.
  • Pendulation This
    involves alternating between focusing on feelings of safety and feelings related to the trauma, allowing the nervous system to shift to self-regulation.
  • Grounding
    Grounding exercises help clients connect fully with the present moment and their physical body.
  • Titration
    Breaking overwhelming experiences into smaller, more manageable chunks to prevent retraumatization.
  • Resources
    Identifying internal and external resources to support a sense of safety and resilience during treatment.
  • Slow Motion
    Slow and controlled walking through traumatic experiences to gradually process and release pent-up tension.
  • Touch and Movement
    Integrating touch and physical movement helps clients connect with their bodies and release stress.
  • Containment
    During therapy, the client learns to regulate and control intense emotions.
  • Completing responses
    The client is guided to complete self-defence responses that may have been interrupted during the traumatic event.
  • Integration
    Integrating the changes and healing experienced through SE into everyday life.

Guided by a trained SE practitioner, these techniques aim to help clients release the physical and emotional effects of trauma and build resilience.

YOUR TRAUMA IS VALID, EVEN IF

  • it happened a long time ago
  • no one else knows about it
  • other people had it worse than you
  • you no longer remember exactly everything that happened there
  • other people doubt your truth and perspective on the experience
  • you don't feel here pain every day

Somatic Exercises

Somatic exercises are an integral part of the somatic healing process and allow clients to reconnect with their bodies and navigate trauma-related feelings. Somatic exercises to release trauma can be practiced both in the presence of a trained somatic therapist and independently at home.

  • Grounding
    These exercises involve focusing on the present moment, connecting with your surroundings, and using sensory experiences to ground yourself. Examples of appropriate grounding include deep belly breathing, feeling your own body weight on a stable surface, or focusing on touch.
  • Body Scan
    Systematically focusing on different parts of the body, noticing sensations and cultivating your awareness without judgment. By exploring your feelings, you can gradually release tension and promote relaxation.
  • Somatic Movement
    Somatic movement practices such as yoga, tai chi or dance can be extremely beneficial for releasing trauma. These methods, involving gentle and conscious movements, help you reconnect with your body and release stored tension.
  • Emotional release
    It consists in providing a safe space for these emotions to be expressed and discharged. Techniques such as deep breathing, vocalization or the use of props such as pillows can encourage the release of pent-up emotions, inducing a sense of relief and emotional integration.
  • Mindfulness and meditation
    Mindfulness and meditation practices cultivate awareness focused on the present moment. They promote a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude towards oneself. By observing thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without attachment or resistance, individuals can develop a greater ability to live with their trauma-related experiences.

Conclusion

Somatic Experiencing (SE) helps individuals release and heal trauma by addressing the physical and emotional impact of traumatic experiences through therapeutic techniques. An example of somatic therapy is the use of body-oriented techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to manage anxiety.

Critics of the method argue that Somatic Experiencing lacks empirical evidence and may not be universally effective, with results varying depending on the practitioner and their ability to guide the client.


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© Alue K. Loskotová, www.aluska.org 2024

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