Millions of individuals throughout the world suffer from anxiety disorders, which significantly disrupt their daily lives and quality of life. Alternative therapies, like Somatic Experiencing offered at Serenity Trauma, have a higher success rate in treating and curing people who suffer from a wide range of anxiety disorders,despite the fact that medicines and conventional therapeutic techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have proved effective in treating anxiety disorders.
According to a research paper published in Volume 13, Issue three of ‘Traumatology’ titled, ‘Somatic Experiencing Treatment with Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention’ by M. Laurie Leitch, 53 adult survivors from the 2004 tsunami in Thailand received traditional therapies, as well as Somatic Experiencing, and 67% of the participants showcased significant improvement in anxiety levels as a direct response to Somatic Experiencing therapy sessions. At Serenity Trauma, we have experienced similar results with clients who come to us after failing to heal from CBT therapy. The overwhelming majority of them gained full recovery after sessions with one of our Somatic Experiencing therapists.
What is Somatic Experiencing Therapy?
Dr. Peter A. Levine developed Somatic Experiencing therapy, a body-oriented therapeutic modality. It recognizes that anxiety disorders and other psychological issues have physiological and nervous system components in addition to psychological ones. Somatic Experiencing seeks to address ANS imbalances caused by traumatic experiences or chronic stress, which can contribute to the development and persistence of anxiety disorders.
Somatic Experiencing and Resolving Trauma and Accumulated Stress
Many individuals with anxiety disorders have experienced trauma or accumulated stress that remains unresolved. Somatic Experiencing provides a safe space for individuals to revisit and process traumatic events or challenging life experiences that may have contributed to their anxiety. Somatic Experiencing therapists facilitate the release of trapped energy associated with trauma, allowing the client’s body to complete its natural stress response. At Serenity Trauma our therapists have noted that this discharge of energy leads to a reduction in anxiety symptoms and facilitates an increased sense of well-being.
What Types of Anxiety Disorders does Somatic Experiencing Therapy Treat?
Somatic Experiencing is used to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders, as well as people who suffer with multiple afflictions. These are just a few of the conditions that Somatic Experiencing therapy has successfully treated:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Somatic Experiencing can be particularly effective in treating PTSD by helping individuals process and release trauma stored in the body. At Serenity Trauma we treat a wide range of PTSD types, including survivor’s guilt PTSD, substance abuse PTSD, religious abuse PTSD, and many others.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Somatic Experiencing can assist individuals with GAD in managing excessive worry, physical tension, and the overall dysregulation of the nervous system.
- Panic Disorder – Somatic Experiencing may help individuals with panic disorder by addressing the underlying traumatic experiences that contribute to panic attacks and restoring a sense of safety and regulation.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) – Somatic Experiencing can aid individuals with social anxiety by addressing the nervous system dysregulation and negative self-beliefs rooted in past experiences.
- Specific Phobias – Somatic Experiencing has been helpful in treating specific phobias by addressing the underlying trauma associated with the fear response and supporting the nervous system in developing new patterns of response.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – While Somatic Experiencing is not the primary treatment for OCD, it can be beneficial for individuals with OCD who have experienced trauma by addressing the trauma-related anxiety and supporting overall regulation.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder – Somatic Experiencing may assist individuals with separation anxiety by addressing the root causes of their anxiety and supporting the nervous system in establishing a sense of safety and resilience.
How does Somatic Experiencing Therapy Work?
Somatic Experiencing aims to release trapped energy and restore the individual’s ability to self-regulate and heal by addressing the physiological, emotional, and cognitive aspects of trauma.
Traumatic experiences, such as near-death accidents, violence, invasive surgeries, extreme illness, or natural disasters, can overwhelm the nervous system, leading to a state of dysregulation. This dysregulation can manifest as hyperarousal (fight-or-flight response) or hypoarousal (freeze response). While the two states of emotional dysregulation are at opposite ends of the spectrum, the physiological effect is the same: the body reacts as if it is in danger or being threatened.
Somatic Experiencing therapists at Serenity Trauma work together with our clients to create a safe and supportive environment. The anxiety therapist assists the individual in developing awareness of their internal experiences through gentle exploration and observation of bodily sensations, emotions, and behaviors. This process is done at a pace that is comfortable for the client, ensuring they do not become overwhelmed or retraumatized.
Somatic Experiencing uses pendulation to help people regulate their nervous system. Pendulation means going back and forth between the trauma and the person’s ability to recover. The therapist helps the client slowly explore the traumatic memory and release the trapped energy. This release can be felt physically, through movements and emotions, helping the nervous system find balance again.
Another important aspect of Somatic Experiencing is the concept of “titration and resourcing.” Instead of diving headlong into the traumatic material, our Somatic Experiencing therapists help clients develop resources and coping skills to manage distress and regulate their nervous system. This may involve developing grounding techniques, enhancing self-soothing abilities, and cultivating a sense of safety and empowerment. These resources provide a foundation for the individual to explore and process traumatic memories in a controlled and manageable manner.
By addressing trauma at its core physiological level, Somatic Experiencing offers a holistic approach to healing. It acknowledges that trauma is not something to be forgotten or suppressed but rather something to be processed and integrated. Through the gentle exploration of sensations, emotions, and movements, Somatic Experiencing aims to restore the individual’s natural resilience and capacity for joy, connection, and well-being.
How Somatic Experiencing Interacts with the Nervous System
To comprehend how Somatic Experiencing assists in the cure of anxiety disorders, it is crucial to understand the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS comprises the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, responsible for the body’s response to stress and relaxation, respectively. Anxiety disorders often result from an overactive sympathetic response or an inability to shift into the parasympathetic state, leading to a constant state of hyperarousal.
Somatic Experiencing therapy involves gentle and gradual approaches to help individuals renegotiate the trauma held in their nervous system. This may involve somatic awareness, where attention is directed to physical sensations and bodily experiences. By cultivating this awareness, individuals can work with Somatic Experiencing therapists to track their physiological responses, increase their tolerance for sensation, and develop a sense of safety within their bodies.
Another important aspect of Somatic experiencing in conjunction with the nervous system is pendulation, which involves moving between activating and settling experiences. This rhythmic oscillation helps individuals access and regulate their nervous system in a controlled manner. By gradually exposing individuals to their traumatic memories while providing resources for self-regulation, SE allows for the completion of interrupted biological responses associated with trauma.
Overall, Somatic Experiencing provides a framework for individuals to reconnect with their bodies and engage in a process of healing trauma. By working with the nervous system’s innate capacity for self-regulation, SE offers the potential for restoring balance and well-being.
Somatic Experiencing also focuses on restoring the regulation and balance within the nervous system. Through gentle techniques, Somatic Experiencing therapists at Serenity Trauma can guide individuals to recognize and track their bodily sensations, including areas of tension, trembling, or numbness. By developing awareness and tolerance for these sensations, clients can gradually learn to regulate their nervous system’s response to stressors, thereby reducing anxiety.
Somatic Experiencing Therapy Helps with Anxiety Disorders, but Is it Right For You?
As presented in this article, it becomes clear that Somatic Experiencing is one of the most effective alternative therapies used by mental health professionals to treat anxiety disorders. But the real question is this: is Somatic Experiencing right for you?
If you have tried traditional therapies with little to no success, and you are open to exploring the arena of alternative therapies, then Somatic Experiencing could be that lifesaver treatment that will enable you to traverse down a healing path towards joy, love, and ultimate self awareness. However, in order to determine if Somatic Experiencing is truly right for you, you will need to contact Serenity Trauma for a consultation with one of our expert therapists.
Call Serenity Trauma to Schedule a Somatic Experiencing Consultation Today
Now is the time to invest in your happiness, health, and future; contact Serenity Trauma today and ask to speak with a Somatic Experiencing therapist to learn if this approach is the best one suited to treat your anxiety. You are unique, and so are your past experiences. It is important to determine if Somatic Experiencing is the right therapy for you, or if a hybrid approach tapping into strands of Brainspotting or EMDR can best facilitate a graceful course of treatment based on your individual profile. Serenity Trauma is a national-leading trauma center specializing in Somatic Experiencing, and we have successfully treated people who come to us from all over the country. Call us today, and together we will start your journey towards living the best version of your true self, one that’s been liberated from the fetters of anxiety so that a fulfilling life of unrattled joy can be obtained.