Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatised. Animals in the wild utilise innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy associated with defensive survival behaviours. These mechanisms provide animals with a built-in ”immunity” to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly charged, life-threatening experiences.
Although humans are born with virtually the same regulatory mechanisms as animals, the function of these instinctive systems is often overridden or inhibited by, among other things, the ”rational” portion of our brains. This restraint prevents the complete discharge of survival energies, and does not allow the nervous system to regain its equilibrium. The un-discharged “survival energy” remains “stuck” in the body and the nervous system. The various symptoms of trauma result from the body’s attempt to ”manage” and contain this unused energy.