Sometimes it can feel as if your emotions have taken over. You’re reacting to something instinctually without even thinking. Maybe this is ok and you’re ok with the way you’re responding, but very often this habitual, automatic response is something that eventually leads to feelings of shame or trouble with your relationships with others. And yet, even though you wish you could, and maybe even know what has caused this way of being, it is hard to stop this automatic reaction.
Believe it or not, this is because our bodies are programmed to react in this way. Fight, flight, freeze and collapse are pre-programmed survival responses. And when we haven’t learned to manage these responses in a healthy way, they can take over. In a way your brain is protecting you too well from danger that may no longer even be present.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) and other body-centered psychotherapy systems work on reconnecting the mind and body so that we can regulate these survival responses. Most often these responses are caused by unresolved issues in our past. SE works to help the system resolve these issues so that we can move out of the stuckness of our past and into a state that is more resilient and responsive, rather than being reactive.
SE is not a cathartic system, meaning you don’t have to scream, yell or lose control to resolve past trauma. In fact, we work gently to make sure that you don’t become overwhelmed – since overwhelm is what causes people to be traumatized in the first place. Sometimes it looks as if we are just doing “talk therapy” though we will be checking in with your awareness of what is happening in your body. Sometimes we might be doing exercises that involve standing or exploring boundaries or practicing defensive responses.
You will never be required to do anything. This is a collaborative process and we will always work together to make sure that anything we do has your total permission.
SE can be a powerful tool for transformation if you take what you learn and the awarenesses you gain in sessions and incorporate them into your life outside the therapy room. Any method only helps you to make the changes you want. It can’t do that for you. The more you put into the process is the more you will get out of it.