How Does Somatic Experiencing Therapy Work? – LIFESTYLE BY PS
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How Does Somatic Experiencing Therapy Work?

Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) is an approach that focuses on healing trauma and promoting overall well-being. This article will delve into the workings of SET, outlining its core principles and techniques.

Somatic Experiencing Therapy

Understanding How Trauma Affects the Body

In SET, it is believed that trauma isn't solely confined to the mind; rather, it encompasses the body. When someone undergoes an extreme traumatic experience or prolonged stress, their body's innate self-regulating systems can become disrupted. This disruption can manifest in symptoms like anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and phobias.

Many people don’t understand the emotional and mental implications of trauma, which causes adverse bodily reactions. Therefore, wellness centers offering SET make sure you understand how trauma affects the body. For example, if you select Revive Counseling and Wellness for SET, they will give an overview and help you understand what the therapy entails.

The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System

Central to Somatic Experiencing Therapy is an understanding of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which governs our involuntary bodily functions. The ANS consists of two branches; the sympathetic branch triggers a "fight or flight" response during situations, while the parasympathetic branch aids in relaxation and recovery. Following events or prolonged stress, individuals often find themselves stuck in a state of "freeze," where their nervous systems remain either highly aroused or under-aroused.

Developing Awareness of Bodily Sensations

A crucial component of SET involves assisting clients in cultivating interoception skills—an awareness of bodily states and sensations. By assisting clients in recognizing the sensations that accompany emotions, such as muscle tension or tightness in areas, a therapist trained in Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) helps individuals develop a deeper self-awareness.

Tracking Sensations

During SET sessions, therapists guide their clients to pay attention to both the sensations associated with distressing memories or experiences and the supportive resources within their bodies. This process involves breaking down sensations into more manageable pieces within each client's capacity for processing at any given moment. By doing therapists facilitate healing without retraumatizing their clients.

Focusing on Safety

Another crucial aspect of Somatic Experiencing Therapy is directing attention toward safety cues in one's surroundings. Clients learn how to shift their focus from distressing sensations to positive external experiences that provide grounding and a sense of security.

Releasing Activation Energy

With the guidance of a SET therapist, individuals explore methods of releasing pent-up energy held within the body following experiences. The emphasis is placed on controlled movements that allow the nervous system to complete trauma responses. This approach enables individuals to experience a sense of closure and relief while fostering a connection with their bodies.

Building Resources and Self-Regulation

Somatic Experiencing Therapy recognizes the significance of establishing resources within clients to help them effectively manage emotions. Therapists play a significant role in helping individuals discover their inner and outer sources of strength, like positive memories or safe spaces that can provide support during difficult times. By teaching clients techniques to regulate their emotions, therapists empower them to have control over feelings.

The Role of the Therapist

A practitioner of Somatic Experiencing Therapy (SET) listens empathetically and pays close attention to their client's physical reactions and involuntary movements. This allows them to understand both communication and non-verbal expressions. The therapist gently guides the client toward resolving patterns of energy.

Results and Benefits

Applying the principles and techniques of Somatic Experiencing Therapy can bring about advantages for individuals dealing with trauma or chronic stress. These may include increased resilience, reduced anxiety symptoms, improved regulation, enhanced well-being, better quality sleep, restored self-confidence, alleviated physical pain symptoms, diminished depression symptoms, and re-established connections with loved ones.

Fostering Resilience and Empowerment

So, how does Somatic Experiencing Therapy help individuals nurture resilience and regain a sense of empowerment in their lives? SET allows individuals to gain an understanding of how their bodies respond to stress and trauma. This knowledge empowers them to take charge of their healing journey. Moreover, SET equips clients with tools and strategies that help them navigate challenges with resilience. By emphasizing the activation of an individual's innate healing abilities, SET promotes long-term well-being and self-empowerment beyond therapy sessions.


To summarize, Somatic Experiencing Therapy takes a holistic approach to trauma healing by integrating sensations with emotional experiences. It encourages the exploration and release of stored trauma energy within an individual's capacity for processing at any given moment. This holistic process facilitates healing on emotional and mental levels and leads to lasting recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma or chronic stress, Somatic Experiencing Therapy offers a path toward healing and wellness.