Somatic Experiencing For Help With Trauma

Although talk therapy can be powerful and effective, there are times where other approaches are needed to effectively treat trauma. Many people who have been involved in traumatic events have tried various types of talk therapy, yet they feel as though they haven’t progressed as much as they would have liked. Somatic experiencing is an alternative for these people that can help people deal with their trauma when other talk therapy hasn’t previously worked.

Somatic experiencing can also help those who feel that they have previously made progress with talk therapy. Everyone who has experienced trauma has a story to tell about the experience. It can be important to share this story both in therapy and with those who you know and trust. However, there is often another story that has no words tied to it at all. This doesn’t mean that this story is not with you and within your body and nervous system. You might be able to use rational thinking skills to move through a trauma, yet you could also have low levels of activation to the trauma. These low levels can create reactivity to situations and relationships that you may not have linked to a traumatic event.

We all have natural responses to things that are all around us. This is no different when a traumatic event happens. In traumatic events, we sometimes aren’t able to actually have a behavioral outcome that is natural to the event. Other times, we override our natural reactions and replace them with rational thinking that keeps our bodies and nervous systems from completing what they need to complete. As a result, emotion, relationships, and behaviors can be indirectly responding to past traumas without you even knowing that this is what is happening.

Somatic experiencing helps with trauma by helping your body process through the sensations, behaviors, and imagery in a way that helps to create new meaning. Somatic experiencing allows you to step away of the verbal story of what happened. Instead, it allows the body to work through it’s own story by following sensation and body movements, while working with a flow through the situation. By focusing on the story of the body in this way, you’re not forced to relive the entire traumatic event in order to resolve it.

Somatic experiencing highly focuses on body sensations. In therapy, you’ll pay attention to changes in temperature, physical feelings of tension, shakiness, and other body sensations. By doing this, you can work through your story in a way that is different than verbally telling it.

Somatic experiencing also can help you identify and mindfully notice resources that you have. In this type of therapy, you’ll be able to follow resources that you may or may not have recognized were there with you all along. For example, we have movements, sensations, and images that we’ve inherited, which we can draw some comfort or safety from if we pay attention to them.

Somatic experiencing can help with trauma that was a one time event, as well as trauma that was developmental. Some people experience trauma from situations such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, or war. Others experience trauma in their upbringing, either from a lacking of a type of needed support, problems in childbirth, or abusive parents. Many times, these types of trauma can be combined together. The somatic experiencing process can hep with all of these situations.

When looking for a therapist to help you with working through a trauma in your life, talk therapy can help. However, there is often another story that doesn’t need to be told at all. Instead, it needs to be felt, experienced, and supported. This is where somatic experiencing can help. Look for a somatic experiencing therapist in your area today to help resolve trauma in a way that is innovative and specialized.


  1. I really appreciate this post as a reminder that talk therapy doesn’t always work for everyone and using a trauma-informed neurosequential approach like SE and Expressive therapies can really help clients find there way back to the present!

  2. Michael, great article. I think this is a very important concept that is often overlooked in treatment. I enjoy using EMDR with clients for trauma since it addresses both the cognitive and somatic experience together. Your clients are lucky to have you knowledgeable in this area!

    • Stacey,
      Thank you for visiting my website. I also appreciate what EMDR can offer. Thanks for your comment!