Somatic Experiencing is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of PTSD and other mental and physical trauma-related problems by focusing on the client's perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences). It was introduced in Dr. Peter Levine's 1997 book Waking the Tiger. In it, he discusses at length his observations of animals in the wild, and how they deal with and recover from life-threatening situations.
Somatic experiencing is based on the understanding that symptoms of trauma are the result of a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and that ANS has an inherent capacity to self-regulate that is undermined by trauma. Somatic Experiencing bases its approach on the science that mammals automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system. In the wild, animals spontaneously "discharge" this excess energy once safe. Involuntary movement such as shaking, trembling, and deep spontaneous breaths reset the ANS and restore equilibrium. Humans disrupt this discharge through our enculturation, rational thinking, shame, judgements, and fear of our bodily sensations.
In sessions, a client tracks his or her own felt-sense experience. Clients have a guided exploration of the physical dysregulation that is harbored in the body as a result of trauma.
For more information about Somatic Experiencing go to: www.traumahealing.org