Somatic experiencing is a body-based form of therapy that focuses on releasing the energy related to a trauma from where it is “stuck” in the body. Developed by Peter A. Levine, this therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can leave the nervous system in a state of dysfunction, stemming from fight-or-flight energy that built up during an initial encounter with a threat, but was never released due to getting stuck in the “freeze” response. Instead of beginning with examining cognitive and thought processes as per traditional psychotherapy methods, somatic experiencing begins with focused awareness of physical sensations and signs.
Use your head. That’s what we tell ourselves when facing a tricky problem or a difficult project. But a growing body of research indicates that we’ve got it exactly backwards. What we need to do, says acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul, is think outside the brain.
Back in the 60s, I started developing various kinds of mind–body methods with people who had high blood pressure. When I taught them how to relax certain muscles in their neck and jaw, their blood pressure would sometimes drop 20 or 30 points, well into the normal range.
Have you noticed that no matter how much time you spend in talk therapy, you still feel anxious and triggered? That is because talk therapy can keep you stuck in a pattern of reliving your stories, rather than moving beyond them.
Nowhere is this relationship more essential yet more endangered than in our healing from trauma, and no one has provided a more illuminating, sympathetic, and constructive approach to such healing than Boston-based Dutch psychiatrist and pioneering PTSD researcher Bessel van der Kolk.
A habitual movement as common as nail-biting or toe-tapping can be the key to pulling out addictive behavior by its roots. These unconscious movement "tags" indicate the places where our bodies have become split off from our psyches.