Justin Linksz & the Benefits of Overcoming Trauma with Somatic Experience Therapy
Violent, abusive, or life-threatening experiences can occur anywhere and at any time. When someone is the victim of such an experience, they suffer trauma which directly affects the automatic nervous system (ANS). The triggering of the ANS is a natural body function and is what produces the actions of fight, flight, or freeze when faced with a threat. Although most people return to a normal state of function soon after experiencing trauma, others repress the harsh emotions and feelings which leads to recurring trauma as if still under the stress of the original threat.
If trauma victims are not able to fully process the internal effects of the event, they fall into continuous or uncontrollable sporadic occurrences of anxiety, aggression, shame, depression, hypervigilance and other negative and potentially destructive symptoms. The effects of long-term trauma can, in turn, lead to psychological and physical health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood swings, drug and alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, depression and a breakdown of the immune system. Those suffering from such symptoms find it difficult to carry out daily activities and social interactions.
Somatic Experience Therapy
Somatic Experience Therapy, also known as Somatic Experiencing, seeks to alleviate the source of internal stress by balancing it with external direction via a support network that provides an atmosphere of safety and trust.
When a trauma victim feels safe and trusts those around them, they tend to release subtle tensions, opening the way for internal resolution and healing. Therefore, Somatic Experiencing targets the core nervous system of the patient, helping them to slowly and steadily resolve internal trauma as a result of past traumatic events. These unresolved emotions are stored in the brain’s non-cognitive regions, and Somatic Experience Therapy provides a gentle and consistent method for releasing physical and emotional restrictions.
Therapy involves introducing small doses of material that might induce a mild traumatic response. The therapist observes the patient’s physical reactions to the material and asks them questions to better assess patient experiences, feelings, and emotions. The process is slow, and caution is taken to ensure triggers aren’t enacted. The therapist then helps the patient develop strategies they can use to self-regulate themselves. Strategies include creating routines that avoid places, people and situations that the patient feels are unsafe, and that might trigger a trauma reaction.
Through Somatic Experiencing sessions, the patient is slowly able to release stress produced by past events and increase their stability and spontaneity. As the patient consistently experiences the support and trust of the therapist, they obtain greater clarity and general calm which allows them to remain grounded during activities that normally trigger traumatic responses.
The further a patient pursues Somatic Experiencing treatment, the more solid their mental and emotional state and the less they are affected by anxiety, fear, depression, or other debilitating trauma symptoms. As time passes and internal issues are resolved, the patient can return to a more normal form of existence.