Trauma It is an embodied experience, which means it is felt and encoded in every system of the body first. In the moment of the threat, the person is pushed beyond their usual capacity to cope and they do something different in order to survive. Trauma results from a perceived threat to life through accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma and early developmental experiences, or the debilitating experience of continuous fear and conflict.  


Trauma impacts on every aspect of the body as well as how the experience is understood and recalled, in emotional responses and in relationship. 

The SE™ approach teaches that trauma is not in the event itself, but rather develops through a person’s attempt to process in the aftermath to regulate the nervous system to regain ease, capacity, and health.

When terrible events happen the instinctive response is to escape or fight back.  When neither of these are possible – you are too small / young / frightened / cornered/ captured/ weak/ alone etc, the human system shuts down and freezes at the height of the experience.  This ensures survival.  

This self-protective responses cannot complete, unexplained psychological and physical conditions may arise and affect relationships and the capacity to deal with for the ups and downs of daily life.

When the system remains in  this “freeze”  we are surviving by playing dead ie shutting down in order to conserve the energy that we need to survive. 

Whilst this is happening, people continue with ostensibly ordinary lives – rear families, go to work, care for relatives, get involved in community activities.  We are living with the residue of the traumatic event or what Peter Levine calls "functional freeze". Of course people lives and relationships are affected in many ways during this time, often in highly distressing ways.    

The nervous system holds the story of this unfinished situation through patterns of experience (implicit memory) and not through the verbal story of explicit memory or recall.

The Somatic Experiencing™ approach supports the completion of these self-protective responses safely to the re-establish the rhythmic movement of ease and resilience.