Somatic Experiencing is a form of psychotherapy used to treat trauma and trauma-related concerns. It was first introduced in 1997 in Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. The therapy works by helping a person restore the autonomic nervous system. Typically, the autonomic nervous system has an inherent capacity to regulate itself. However, when trauma occurs this self-regulation is impaired. Somatic Experiencing aims to restore the self-regulation of the autonomic nervous system in a person by facilitating the release of energy and survival reactions that tend to remain in the body after a traumatic event. Somatic Experiencing is used in a variety of health professions such as mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, and emergency first response.
How It Works
In his book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, Levine describes how animals provide an example of discharging energy after they’ve experienced life-threatening danger. Under threat, they mobilize large amounts of energy to have available for fleeing or fighting a dangerous situation. However, once safe, animals discharge this energy and restore their autonomic nervous system to equilibrium. Somatic Experiencing utilizes Levine’s main premise which is that “trauma lives in the body, not the event.” Therefore, the modality is meant to work with a person’s body in order to heal the psychological and physiological results of trauma.
Typically, after trauma, a person is stuck in the fight, flight, or freeze response. Somatic Experiencing provides clinical tools to help resolve these fixed physiological states. If a person is stuck in the fight response, he or she may have experiences of anxiety, panic, hyperactivity, emotional flooding, chronic pain, or hyper-vigilance. If a person is stuck in the freeze response, a person might experience depression, lethargy, exhaustion, low blood pressure, disorientation, or dissociation. Somatic Experiencing aims to guide a person out of these states by helping them release the energy of stored trauma in the body.
A Somatic Experiencing session is done face to face with a client and a trained clinician. Professionals are specifically trained in Somatic Experiencing, which requires many hours of training as well as experiencing the healing effects of Somatic Experiencing by being a client for up to 24 clinical hours. During a session, a client is asked to track their moment by moment sensory (physical) experiences in the body, among other clinical interventions. All interventions are aimed at releasing physical tension that remains in the body as a part of the aftermath of trauma.
Origins of Somatic Experiencing
Dr. Peter A. Levine conducted many studies of stress physiology, psychology, ethology (the study of animal behavior), biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics before developing the practice of Somatic Experiencing. Together those studies, along with Levine’s 45 years of practicing as a clinician, contributed to the successful treatment method of Somatic Experiencing. This approach releases traumatic shock, which is required to transform post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), early emotional wounds, and trauma related to early developmental attachment.
ENERGY HEALING – PRANIC & REIKI
Energy Healing is a form of alternative healing, commonly being used by more and more health and wellness professionals. It is a therapeutic treatment form that works with a person’s energy field. The therapist or healing professional uses a variety of methods to channel healing energy into a person’s energy field. He or she might also direct unhealthy or dysfunctional energy out of a person’s energy field. Energy Healing can be done through using a hands-on approach, hands-off, or distant (where the healing professional and the client are in different locations). Depending on the setting, Energy healing may also be called energy therapy, spiritual healing, and energy medicine. Two forms of Energy Healing are Pranic Healing and Reiki.
Types of Energy Healing
Pranic Healing uses the life force energy of the body to heal, balance, and harmonize the body’s life energy. This system was developed by Choa Kok Sui, who believed that the invisible bio-energy or vital energy of the body and mind can be used to keep a person in good health. He also believed that the body is a self-healing process and that the body’s healing process is accelerated by increasing its levels of Prana. The word Prana is a Sanskrit word for life-force. This subtle energy is also known as Chi or the Breath of Life.
Pranic Healing is performed by a trained professional who directs Prana in, through, and around a person without touching them. Physical contact is not required because Prana is readily available everywhere. Choa Kok Sui is known for saying, “Life Energy or Prana is all around us. It is pervasive; we are actually in an ocean of Life Energy. Based upon this principle, a healer can draw in Pranic Energy or Life Energy from the surroundings.” Pranic Healing can heal physical ailments, even though it uses one’s Life Energy. Essentially, the physical body experiences sickness only after energetic disruptions are not healed. Therefore, Pranic Healing goes to the source of ailments and works with the energetic cause of one’s sickness or discomfort.
Reiki Healing was developed by Mikao Usui. He developed an entire system of methods that allows either a practitioner to direct energy in another person or allows a person to direct energy in his or her own body. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation. A Reiki practitioner lays his or her hands upon a person and directs the unseen life force energy in, through, and around a person for healing. According to Reiki practitioners, the life force energy is what flows through a person and it is precisely what keeps them alive. When a person’s life force is low, he or she might feel sick or stressed. When a person’s life force is high, he or she might feel happy and healthy. A practitioner of Reiki attempts to direct healing life force energy into a person so that his or her health can be restored.
Reiki is a form of Energy Healing that can be used for any illness and upon any person. A person can learn certain hand positions to perform Reiki on themselves, or a practitioner can learn hand positions to use to treat others. Reiki is simple, safe, and natural. Because it is non-invasive, there are no dangers that a person might become ill from it. However, Reiki should be used in conjunction with other medical and therapeutic techniques to relieve pain, side effects, and promote well being.
If you or someone you know has a physical or emotional concern, perhaps Energy Healing can help. However, please be sure to use Energy Healing in conjunction with the appropriate medical or psychological treatment.