Releasing Stress and Tension from the Nervous System
with Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing works with the reptilian brain and the nervous system. The method allows to release deeply stored emotions, anxiety and fear that are often not influenced by our rational thinking. So for example we can know that we don't need to freeze in public speaking but the nervous system doesn't respond to our command. These responses of our nervous system are usually shaped by past experiences. We are often not aware of how deeply certain experiences have marked us and can at times live with symptoms without knowing why. To resolve symptoms with Somatic Experiencing it is not required to know what situations or environment caused them in the first place.
The symptoms can include
- tension in certain parts of the body
- digestive problems or recurring illnesses like bladder infections
- physical symptoms like irritable bowle syndrome
- anxiety and sense of being overwhelmed by life
- panic attacks
- difficulties to relax or difficulty to get active
- strong irritability
- difficulty to connect with others
- moments or situations where we involuntarily “freeze”
- difficulty in sensing subtle sensation in our bodies
- desire to self-medicate with food/alcohol or drugs to feel better
- compulsive behaviours
- low tone of voice, inability to speak up
- difficulty setting limits and saying no
What happens in a session?
In the first session we will be establishing safety. We will jointly identify what positive memories or activities in your life make you feel at ease in your body and how to make you as comfortable as possible in the sessions. I will also guide you in tracking how feeling safe feels in the body. This is important because we want to start the process from a foundation of ease and safety. In a second step, this can at times happen in the first session already, we will bring in material or sensations that you find slightly uncomfortable. Again I will invite you to track that in your body while keeping the attention also on the parts that still feel safe. Through this dual awareness the body can do it's natural work of releasing tension, which usually shows up in temperature changes, gentle shaking and pins and needles. Once the discharge is complete, which can take 10-20 mins these sensations are typically accompanied by a sense of comfort and deeper relaxation and generally more peaceful feeling.
Although one session can at times already be very beneficial I typically recommend 3-5 regular (weekly) sessions initially in order to establish the sense of safety which can take time to build. After 5 sessions you will also be able to use some of the tools yourself in daily life and can become your own therapist. Thereafter sessions can be spaced out more.
The key principles of Somatic Experiencing are:
There needs to be a sense of safety for the more subtle layers of tension to be able to show themselves and be discharged
Any release of tension (emotional or nervous) needs to happen gradually and in small bites, like that the system can more easily integrate the change
In order to work with the reptilian brain we need to speak it's language, which is the language of sensations. So in sessions you will be invited to track your sensations and share them.
You can find out more in these videos about Somatic Experiencing by Peter Levine who developed the method.
A short summary of the approach and how it works
A case example of a recovering war veteran
Want to practice..?
In a moment of high stress or anxiety - this track integrates elements of Somatic Experiencing to calm the nervous system
To get in touch or book a session
You are very welcome to get in touch for questions, to arrange a free introductory phone call (15min) or to book a session with me in Kensington/London or over skype. Any message you leave below will go directly to my email.