The Somatic Experiencing® method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
THE SE™ APPROACH
SE™ offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, life coaching, and others.
HOW IT WORKS
The SE approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
Watch Nature's Lesson, a 28 min video Intro to SE™
Watch Dr. Levine working with Ray, a War Trauma Veteran
25 min Documentary
This video tells the compassionate story of the healing process of Ray, a Marine who had been injured by two explosive devices, had his closest friend die in his arms, and was diagnosed with both severe PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. He was brought to see Dr. Levine after developing chronic pain, depression, Tourette-like convulsions, cognitive problems, and insomnia due to night terrors. In a series of documented Somatic Experiencing® sessions, including Ray's family, Peter demonstrates the power of SE™ as a tool to heal the wounds of war.
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Dr. Levine is the developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a naturalistic and neurobiological approach to healing trauma, which he has developed during the past 50 years. He is the Founder of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute®/Foundation for Human Enrichment® and the Founder and President of the Ergos Institute for Somatic Education®, a leader in International Trauma Workshops, Lectures, and Webinars. His work has been taught to over 50,000 therapists in over 45 countries.
Dr. Levine has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the US Association for Body-Oriented Psychotherapy, an honorary award as the Reiss-Davis Chair in Los Angeles for his lifetime contribution to infant and child psychiatry, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children (ATTACh) for “his lifelong commitment to healing children through research, education, and outreach.” He holds a doctorate in Biophysics from UC Berkeley and a doctorate in Psychology from International University. He has taught at the University of California, Berkeley; Mills College; Antioch University; the California Institute of Integral Studies; and the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. He served as a Stress consultant for NASA in the early space shuttle development and has served on the American Psychological Association task force for responding to the trauma of large-scale disasters and ethnopolitical warfare. Dr. Levine is currently a Senior Fellow and consultant at The Meadows Addiction and Trauma Treatment Center in Wickenburg, Arizona and continues to teach trauma healing workshops internationally.
Dr. Levine is the author of several best-selling books on trauma, including Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma (published in over 29 languages); In an Unspoken Voice, How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness; and Trauma and Memory, Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past.
"Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods."
~ Peter A. Levine, Ph.D
Beginning in the 1970's, Peter’s explorations into how animals deal with threat led to the development of the Somatic Experiencing® method, a method that is highly effective in dealing with the effects of overwhelm on our nervous system, called Somatic Experiencing® (SE™). SE™ is a clinical methodology based upon an appreciation of why animals in the wild are not traumatized by routine threats to their lives, while humans, on the other hand, are readily overwhelmed and often subject to the traumatic symptoms of hyperarousal, shutdown, and dysregulation.
WAKING THE TIGER
The image of the tiger was invoked by Dr. Peter A. Levine during his first session with “Nancy,” who suffered from an array of symptoms, in an event that would define and shape his career.
Without warning, Nancy suddenly froze, her pulse skyrocketing as she began reliving the moments before a traumatic childhood surgery, including being bound and anesthetized with ether. “I’m going to die! Please don’t let me die!” she repeated, helplessly. Amidst this chaos, Dr. Levine was compelled, by a seemingly prescient vision of a charging tiger, to say: "Nancy, you're being chased by a tiger. Run! Run for the nearest tree!" It was at this moment, as Nancy began kicking her feet, that Dr. Levine first witnessed the human animal’s innate ability to heal from shock and terror, by completing the instinctual, self-protective act that had been overwhelmed and frozen into her body’s nervous system, over 20 years earlier. On repeated follow up, this single session had a dramatic impact on Nancy's life, including the dissolution of her agoraphobia, cessation of her migraines, and a renewed, sustained vigor in living.
The Tiger has become a symbol of our aliveness, our innate nature.