• What Can I Expect?

    The first session is usually different from ongoing sessions.  We will get a relevant history and establish what your goals for SE are.  I will explain the basic concepts and we will start with some body awareness training in tracking emotions and stress responses.  Ongoing sessions progress with body tracking, following body impulses with defensive/protective or flight responses.  SE techniques including pendulation and titration are used to slowly unwind layers of emotions that can be overcoupled or undercoupled based on trauma history and conditioning.  I recommend all my clients see a psychotherapist for ongoing support if necessary during our SE sessions, as my training background is in physical therapy and not psychotherapy.  SE is a specific methodology distinct from psychology and is not a substitute for traditional medical management or psychiatric care, but can be a great adjunctive therapy.  Sessions are an hour long and usually occur once a week depending on your goals.  I am happy to answer your questions along the way and look forward to working with you.  If you are unsure, feel free to book a complimentary 15 minute consultation to see if SE may benefit your personal situation.

  • How to Get the Most out of your SE Session

  • 1. Talking: Somatic Experiencing is a body based technique that is designed to get to the physical and emotional root of issues by clearing traumas and emotional charges stored in the body.  While talking is essential to communicate what traumas need to be cleared, to set goals and to process it on a conscious level, spending the entire session telling our story does not allow for us to implement the techniques.  Then, the relief you were looking for may not happen in that session.  I generally have an informal rule/request that we spend no more than half the session talking so that we are helping you actually clear in each session.  The exception to this would be the very first session or in the case of just needing to be heard for a particular session (or many sessions if your trauma was around not being seen or heard).  If you really just need to talk and be heard for our session, please know that is okay!  Just let me know and I am happy to hear you.  However, please have appropriate expectations if you choose to do this, that you may feel the same at the end of the session as you did in the beginning.  This is also okay if something new happened and it needs to be communicated to form an outline of things we can clear for the next session.  

    2. Guidance: It is my number one priority to create a safe space in our SE sessions.  Without safety, it is impossible to process traumas (our escape and defense mechanisms kick in).  So please know everything I ask you to do is always a suggestion, not a demand.  Know that you are always in control of yourself in these sessions.  For example, if you need to take a break, walk around, look out the window, say that the request doesn't feel right, or ask questions along the way, please feel free.  However, know that I am always guiding in a specific way, based on reading sympathetic and parasympathetic body cues, that is designed to create an emotional release.  We will be walking a fine line of ensuring safety and also obtaining a release (which may or may not happen in each session, because safety is never compromised and because we are on the body's timeline vs. the mind's timeline).

    On one extreme of the spectrum, we have complete control and safety, but we do not leave the comfort zone and no release can happen.  On the other extreme of this spectrum is re-traumatization, where a person is pushed to the point of reliving a trauma without enough resources/support/facilitation (this has never happened in my office, as I practice on the side of caution and am always checking in to make sure the client feels safe).  It is important that we stay near the middle third of the spectrum, where there is enough resources to ensure the ability to integrate what traumas are slowly unpacked in safe ways, but also enough willingness to give the process a try.  This does not require complete trust or belief in the technique, but rather an open attitude of investigation.  Many of my "left-brained" clients are at a loss for words after a session in which an emotion or trauma has physically disappeared from their bodies and cannot be reproduced again afterwards, but the mind cannot figure out how or why.  This is understandable and was my experience as well when I first came across this work. This illustrates the difference between intellectual understanding and experiential knowing.  I am happy to explain everything intellectually to your mind's content, because the mind needs that to go forward.  In fact, I encourage a proficient understanding of what we are doing and am very open to skepticism and being asked to explain something in scientific detail.  However, I also ask that you give the technique a fair chance by putting the logical part of the mind to the side while we are in the body and try to remain in the body to test it out to get a real experience of release.

    In summary, know that if you need to continue pausing or questioning while we are focused in the body doing SE, we will have to keep restarting the process into the body and there will be more limited results.  You are more than welcome to go at this pace if you need this level of safety, but please have appropriate expectations as to how different you will feel after the session.  That being said, please take care of yourself and go only as far as you feel comfortable physically and emotionally.  Some people require this level of safety in order to ensure stability.  As one intellectually understands and then gets the feel and experience of what we are doing after a few sessions, most people are able to let go and get much bigger results in future sessions.

    3. Attunement: Know that I will always try to be attuned to you through your verbal expressions as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic cues I read from your body.  I will always be checking in to confirm if what I am seeing resonates with you.  My job as a facilitator for your body's unraveling of a trauma is to make suggestions based on what I am seeing.  Your job is to see if those suggestions resonate with you and if so, giving them a try.  However, there will inevitably be times where we miss each other because we are two different people with two different minds and experiences.  We need to expect that this may happen and talk about it openly.  I will never take offense if you say that I misread your cue or need, as I know that I can never know for sure the contents of another person's mind or traumas.  Knowing that I missed your cue helps me modify things to better meet you where you are at so that you can reap the benefit.  We are both equals in these sessions and communication goes in both directions.

    4. Length of Treatment: I encourage everyone to give this at least 4 - 6 tries.  The main reason is that after this many sessions, you will have an intellectual and experiential understanding of what we are doing and can be independent with many of these techniques for your ongoing benefit.  By this time, we will also know if the techniques will work for you, as you would have likely had some tangible physical and undeniable release of emotions or trauma that you notice immediately.  About 80% of clients will experience a release of some sort by this time.  For longer standing issues, complex traumas, psychosomatic illness (physical manifestation of illness due to stress or trauma) or present moment chronic stress situations, weekly ongoing sessions can be very beneficial to stay on top of life's stresses and retrain the way we are with our thoughts/emotions to change longstanding patterns and illness.

    5. What to Expect in the First Session: Our sessions consist of us seated in the room talking to one another.  Touch is never required.  If it is part of the session, permission will be asked.  I will go over the basics of a trauma flow chart and how I will be facilitating the autonomic nervous system so you intellectually understand how and why SE works.

    Beyond that, we have two options during the first session:

    1. We can spend the entire 1st session taking your history and setting goals.  However, most of this will already be on your intake form.  This is needed if you have a complicated history or feel you just need to express all of it so that I can see the entire picture.  This is no problem and I am happy to provide this emotional space for you, especially since it's so important to be heard regarding our traumas.

    2. We can spend half of the session clarifying your history and setting goals.  Then we jump in and experience some SE directly in the body.  This way you get to experience immediately how SE works and that it works.  We often times may start with a small situation or trauma for the very first experience so it is not overwhelming as you get the hang of it.  However, by session 2, we can go much deeper.

    6. Read: If you are looking for the most in-depth scientific information on this topic, there are several more options.  You can begin by reading more about SE on this website and at traumahealing.org to further understand the science behind what we are doing.  There is an abundance of literature on the latter international site as well as many SE studies.  There are also many books written on this topic by physicians, such as Healing Back Pain, The Mind Body Connection by Dr. John E. Sarno MD, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk MD and When the Body Says No: the Cost of Hidden Stress by Dr. Gabor Mate MD.

    This information is just to reassure your mind by having all the information and to understand expectations.  There is no need to memorize it, as I will be guiding you the whole time and addressing questions along the way.  Looking forward to making the most of this for you.  May you live in peace!