Tori Olds, a therapist at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy in Austin, TX, talks about somatic experiencing and how it is used to work with trauma and as a grounding practice to find balance.
An Approach to Working with Trauma in Therapy
Somatic experiencing was developed by Peter Levine, PhD. It’s an approach to working with trauma that is looking at the fact that the trauma is more in the body. It’s dealing with, not just like the midbrain, but even the brain stem.
With most psychological issues we’re working with, we’re thinking more about the midbrain, which is the emotional part, the relational part, the dynamics we got from childhood. However, when it comes to near-death experiences or things that were very intense, it’s really fight-or-flight. And when that doesn’t resolve itself in a healthy way, it can lead to some symptoms that can be very confusing and disturbing and that need to be addressed in a slightly different way.
What is Traumatic for One Person May Not be Traumatic for Another
With trauma, it’s not like the event itself is the trauma. It is, but what is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another person or vice versa. It is more about what happened internally. Does the system, the whole nervous system, get locked up and frozen around the trauma or is it moving through it?
Approaching Your Feelings in a Way That is Manageable
Somatic experience is just an approach to helping people’s system approach the feelings and activation in a way that it can actually manage. That’s why we go really slow—it’s called titrating—taking little pieces at a time. There is something that happens in a healthy nervous system that is natural and is good called pendulation. It’s when there’s a rhythm where we go through activation or emotion or get a little activated and then we soothe ourselves and step away from it, maybe look out the window, take a breath, take a break from thinking about that for a second.
Watching People’s Nervous Systems
This all happens in the unconscious, but that’s a healthy nervous system. So, we can go into therapy and I’ll watch people’s nervous systems. For instance, when they talk about something hard: Does their nervous system take little chances for breath? Or do they really just get swimming and locked into it? That would be being over on one side of the pendulum. Being stuck on the other side might be where they can’t feel it at all or are completely avoiding it.
Therapy is really about finding this nice swing between the two. Finding balance and wiring that in so you can move towards it, take a little bit of memory or process and the active feeling and then swing over to deal with it and process it. It needs a lot of coaching—with anything—but especially with trauma. So, somatic experiencing really uses that back and forth process because the trauma was so overwhelming and it messes up the pendulation.
Helping the Brain Come Back into Balance
So, treating trauma is really about coming in and using a lot of skills to help that pendulation come back into balance. It’s the process of teaching grounding and things to help people swing in the right way. To ground…to soothe. To just take a break. To use the connection for soothing. We call that resourcing—learning how to resource—and then using that for processing the trauma.
What is grounding and how is it used in therapy?
Grounding is a physical sense of being more in your body. You’re being lowered and in yourself. Sometimes you feel more rooted to the earth, which is probably why we use the word grounding.
Sometimes, actually, getting your feet on the floor and pushing them against the floor can be a grounding force. Grounding is the opposite of disassociating, which is when people feel they are floating up, like they are spinning or out of their body. Grounding would be where you want to come back into feeling your body so that you are more centered in your whole brain where everything is active. Grounding is about being more centered and in phase, feeling like you can slow down, make sense of it all and organize it, rather than being lost or spinning in it.
Starting Therapy in Austin, TX
We would love to invite you to make a complimentary call to discuss some of your options and determine whether Deep Eddy Psychotherapy in Austin, TX is the right fit for you and your situation. Please contact us using the links below or in the sidebar and share this post or video if you found it to be valuable. Together we can create a world of well-being and joy.
How does Somatic Experiencing work, and who is it for?
Human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of diverse traumas. The SE™ approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motoric responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body and nervous system, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, building their capacity for containment and resilience. - Ergos Institute of Somatic Experiencing
SE utilizes autonomic nervous system function, vertical integration, and the connection between the client and themselves to assist in trauma healing. When a therapist utilizes Somatic Experiencing, the client will be asked to track body sensations and impulses for movement in the body. SE therapists sometimes utilize touch, weights, movement, and visual techniques to help integrate trauma into the rest of the brain. SE is one of the most gentle and safe trauma healing modalities around today.
Pause. Breathe. Observe.
If you’re looking for a different type of psychotherapy, you’ve found the right place. Since 2007, I’ve offered Somatic Psychotherapy, a modality that includes some talking, but we also listen to what your body has to say about grief, anxiety, anger, joy, and connection.
If you’ve tried various forms of psychotherapy before, and nothing seemed to “click,” or if you’re new to therapy but aren’t sure how effective just talking about your problems may be, then please call me for a free consultation at 512-637-6331.
My practice emphasizes somatic psychology; this means that we may talk for part of the session, but mainly we pay attention to the information that your body and nervous system gives us. Treatment may include touch therapy on a table. This type of body-focused therapy has been found to be effective in treating most types of trauma, including PTSD, developmental trauma, and parental and relationship wounding. The most important part of therapy though, to me, is that we connect and that you feel safe and heard.
Trauma is experienced in the body, not just the brain. Our body knows what is happening before the brain does and responds before the brain.
Everything we experience in the brain, we experience in the body, including emotion and memory. Following an upsetting event, we might feel like our body is not our own and is not a safe place to be. Somatic Experiencing allows you to build a relationship with your body once again, understand what is happening in the body when you experience trauma triggers or emotion, and use the resources already within to heal through access to the body.
I believe integrating the body is imperative for trauma treatment because of all it holds. When it has been a stranger for a long time, it can feel scary to access it once again. Somatic Experiencing uses the inner wisdom you hold to allow healing to unfolds as it needs to, at the pace you are ready for.
In this modality, we recognize the body’s natural resilience and capabilities for healing. We follow sensations, images, behaviors, affect, and meaning related to past distressing events to move through the ways they are showing up in the present.
When we learn to follow the body’s natural impulses, we can more easily allow distress to move through us, rather than become stuck within.
What are people saying about sex therapists in San Francisco, CA?
This is a review for sex therapists in San Francisco, CA:
“I injured one of my shoulders from working out and the other from bad posture. The pain was bothering me for a while, sometimes I even woke up from the pain if I turned in a bad position during sleep. I feel so lucky that I found Pricilla. Right from the start, she listened to my symptoms and examined the area. She is empathetic and amazing at what she does. I really enjoyed coming to see her twice week for the last couple of months. The pain went away. I feel much stronger, and more importantly, I am building new muscle memories to use my body correctly. It’s always such a joy talking to her too. I am so grateful for her help.”
See more reviews for this business.