Somatic experiencing: Does anyone have... - Heal My PTSD

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Somatic experiencing

greenrainbow
greenrainbow

Does anyone have experience with somatic experiencing? I have just started seeing a new therapist and she is working with this method. I’m reading about it online but I’m wondering if someone can share experiences and recommend resources? My next session is in a month so I want to keep myself busy until then. Thanks in advance:)

18 Replies
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I don’t have experience with that but hope your path of healing works for you. Take care.

Thank you 😊

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator

Hi greenrainbow,

Welcome to the community.

I've had somatic experiencing therapy and it's been very helpful.

It's coming from the idea that trauma is stored in the body on cellular level. All that stored energy needs to be discharged.

You can google for resources from Peter Levine.

Also the book by Bessel van der Kolk "The body keeps the score".

It really helped me when other things didn't.

Marnie22
Marnie22
in reply to Nathalie99

The. book you mentioned , 'The Body Keeps the Score,' has just been recommended to me by the psychologist that I am having EMDR treatment with!

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator
in reply to Marnie22

Great...I am interested in how you go through your therapy, Marnie.

I found somatic experiencing to be tough and have done a lot of processing. It's physically and emotionally exhausting but it helped me.

EMDR is very highly regarded as a therapy specific to PTSD.

You are very brave facing things.

Hi thank you both for the replies. I also found the session to be very difficult and I actually feel way worse than four days ago when I saw my therapist. It’s really tricky

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator
in reply to greenrainbow

It is indeed tricky, greenrainbow.

It's like, in order to get better we put ourselves through this and initially it makes us worse.

It's like a house renovation- everything is messy and ugly before it gets really beautiful and organized.

I hope you can find even the smallest moment that is comforting...

P.S.

My therapist put a lot of effort into grounding and she wouldn't let me go unless I was okay.

She asked what brings me comfort and back then it was interior design magazines and music. I brought my own music which she played. We used those magazines to concentrate on nice pictures and we did a lot of physical exercises as a part of the grounding but also the processing.

There are some gentle ones. But it still is hard.

That was necessary to not overwhelm me and so I can function more during the days between the sessions.

After sessions I needed a rest and would usually sleep in the afternoon.

Thank you for the reply! That’s really helpful to know. I think I just haven’t found the right therapist yet. I left the session feeling extremely bad and still crying and had to go back to work and then cook for friends at home. It was a battle and I didn’t realize to what extent because I didn’t know that this type of therapy really digs out the worst of my subconscious ness. I think I really need to discuss the approach with my therapist as she’s going too deep and too quickly. Thank you for helping me realize it and see it’s ok to feel like that!

LilLibby
LilLibby
in reply to Nathalie99

Can I ask what somatic therapy is please as I can’t do talking therapy so I’d love to know more how this works?

Thank you

Lib

Honestly I’m not an expert at all. I’ve had a few sessions of emdr last year but hardly could go through them although I admit that they were somewhat effective. I am currently doing general somatic experiencing but only the beginnings so not sure which parts we will concentrate on. I’m having my next session in mid feb and reading things online until then

I hope it goes well for you 🤍

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator
in reply to LilLibby

Hi LilLibby,

Somatic experiencing is a method of discharging body memories and trauma stored in the body.

It's based on Peter Levine's work and the original website is traumahealing.org

The most helpful explanation is in his videos like for example this one:

Animals have a way of discharging fear and trauma. They shake and do something with their body.

When that dread is still in the body, it can cause all the different systems to not work properly and can manifest itself in physical symptoms.

I had agoraphobia and I remember how tough it was being forced to go outside. I had exposure therapy and it made me realize how many more deeper issues I had. I felt I needed to work on my trauma but that was helpful for me at that time.

In somatic experiencing you don't talk about the trauma but you still process the body memories. So it still is very tough and very exhausting but also brings a relief eventually.

You don't have to. You need to function so anything that can help you with that is more important than processing.

If you feel up to processing later on, you can always revisit the concept.

Most importantly, having an experienced therapist that practices grounding techniques and never lets you out before you are calm, makes a big difference.

There is hope even when things are overwhelming.

LilLibby
LilLibby
in reply to Nathalie99

Thank you so much for explaining.

I too have agoraphobia and severe social anxiety that began soon after the final trauma in 2012. I’d never suffered it before but I worked hard and by 2014 it was much better after exposure therapy but then my health deteriorated. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome and thyroid issues and my Gp believed trauma played a huge role in why I developed these. I Suffer from an anxiety disorder now too, I feel it in my body every day so I believe the trauma is like a discharge in my body almost buzzing electric and the fatigue too. I feel that’s how the trauma has stored itself within me and these symptoms I have are a product of it.

I shall watch that video now. Thank you.

I've experienced it without knowing what it was called. I found out much later.

From my experiences I think it is perhaps the best way to address trauma. I prefer it to the conventional talk therapy approaches, which deal with the conscious mind.

It's the stuff locked in our bodies that dictate a lot of our actions. So we end up repeating the same mistakes, even when we should no better.

Slow, gentle body work e.g. yoga, qi gong, etc. can help release trapped memories/emotions.

It's good to work through with an appropriate therapist. How's it going for you?

Thanks for sharing. It’s great to hear that it’s been working for you! I also found that cbt doesn’t work for me so I hope this one does. I had my second session on Friday and I cried for one hour. When I left I felt ten times worse and it’s been like this for four days now. I’ve read here that this can happen but I don’t know how to deal with it and my next session is only in a month because my therapist is on holidays.

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator
in reply to greenrainbow

Can you try yoga or a gentle exercise that you like?

Also, anything nice that it is not too intensive and you can stop whenever you like?

I tried coloring books for adults.

I also went for walks in my neighborhood and started finding nice places that I didn't know existed.

I photographed those places so that I could remind myself of the feeling of comfort and safety.

Sense of safety is most important in all this.

Talking to people on here might help. Just taking a day at a time.

You might not know how you are going to get through this month but when you only look at one day in front of you then it's less overwhelming.

Tomorrow you might feel better and be able to figure out more.

Sending support and comfort...

You are so right! I need to look at it a day at a time. I can’t make myself do my hobbies and I’m in a new country so I don’t have a network here but I’m trying my best. Reading and replying here helps a lot too as you say. So happy to have found this app :)

Nathalie99
Nathalie99Administrator
in reply to greenrainbow

Finding nice places and things that I liked in each new country has helped me cope with difficult things.

When PTSD started, I was in a new country where I needed to learn the language and I had so much more to learn.

It was really difficult with a lot of responsibilities.

I needed to do nice enjoyable things. I liked cycling and seeing nice places near water and boats, also the countryside.

One of the most important things for me was having a home. I didn't always have a lot of choice in what place I lived in but I always tried to make it feel homely.

For some reason it is fundamental for me and I build everything else on that.

At times I felt resistance and couldn't finish but when I did, it was a relief.

Sending support as a lot sounds familiar.

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