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Somatic Experiencing®

Close-up of the spikes of a red sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus)
A Pacific red octopus seen from above, bright white and red against the dark sea depth
Close-up of a clam in a tidepool
A basket star (Gorgonocephalus eucnemis) photographed underwater in the Gulf Islands  of British Columbia, bright white against the black depth

Image credits, left to right: naturediver, Cavan, naturediver, dendron - all from

As animals, we are hardwired to respond to perceived threats with fight, flight, or freeze. It's part of our survival response. As human animals, we are conditioned in ways that may make us rigid in these responses, so that we get overcharged in fight or flight, or stuck in freeze. We lose our innate ability to return to a settled, neutral place when danger has passed. Somatic Experiencing works artfully, gently, and directly to restore balance and resiliency to these nervous system responses so that the overwhelm of trauma is truly released and the experience metabolized. 

There are many ways to work with trauma. My belief is that trauma is released when we address the meaning and language level – understanding what happened with compassionate witnessing – but also work with how the trauma is held in the body, in somatic shapes and nervous-system patterns.


On the somatic side, one of my main resources is Somatic Experiencing (SE), a modality that works to re-regulate the nervous system from stuck patterns of shock and trauma. Through the SE lens, "trauma" is not defined by an event per se (such as an auto accident, or an attack), but rather is any circumstance in which the nervous system was overwhelmed beyond its capacity, so that it is patterned by the experience, and, in some sense, stuck as a result. The SE modality is based in polyvagal theory and an understanding of our survival physiology of fight-flight-freeze. It uses gentle methods to unwind the impact of trauma and restore "bandwidth" and responsiveness to the nervous system.


I initially learned about Somatic Experiencing as a bodyworker and have employed its basic concepts for years in that modality. I'm currently a student in the full three-year training, soon to enter the Advanced level.

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