What is somatic experiencing?

Peter A. Levine, PhD receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy (USABP) in Concord, California on October 24th, 2010


“The Somatic Experiencing® method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.”


In this 5-minute video, founder of Somatic Experiencing®, Dr. Peter Levine discusses how he came to create his powerful approach to trauma

THE Somatic Experiencing APPROACH

“Offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others.”


Trauma, Somatic Experiencing with Dr. Peter A. Levine

How is it different than talk therapy

Unlike traditional talk therapy and other cognitive modalities, Somatic Experiencing therapy is a short-term naturalistic approach that fully resolves trauma-related issues. If you can become traumatized pre-verbal, precognitive, and pre-conceptual, then clearly trauma is a physiological condition more so than a psychological disorder. This simple shift in perspective is a game changer. Imagine feeling in control of your life, safe, joyful, and excited about the future. Discover how to live in the present moment while feeling grounded, centered, embodied, and empowered.

In this video, you will learn about the physiological basis of trauma and how Somatic Experiencing® (SE™), developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD, helps distressed individuals recover a sense of well being, stability and vitality.

A Typical Somatic Experiencing Session

A Somatic Experiencing session is similar to traditional “talk” therapy (for lack of a better term), except that the focus is on the biology rather than the biography. Talk therapy works more with the higher brain (cognitive rational mind), while SE focuses on the lower brain (animal survival instinct) responses, the autonomic nervous system, and the “felt” sense. The lower brain, however, doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is perceived, so guided visualization and the use of the imagination can help renegotiate past events on a cellular memory level.

Touch can also be incorporated as a way to resource the client with a sense of support and to increase attention and connection to sensation and the body itself, but this is not a massage. The client may remain seated or recline during the session.

A lot of time and attention are spent getting the client resourced (feeling better). Delving into past events cathartically is avoided, as that can re-traumatize and further set trauma into the system.

Resource yourself with The 5’s Meditation, created by Brian D. Mahan, SEP, LRMP


Brian D. Mahan, SEP, LRMP, is one of Los Angeles’ finest Somatic Experiencing Practitioner who provides a safe space for clients in need. Brian will help you to hone in on the root causes of your current struggles and to help you to renegotiate these original wounds—all the while having reparative and corrective experiences. Trauma healing is an interesting endeavor, because it is not about following a formula. It is a growth process of self-discovery—often times with a better than expected outcome.

Interview: Brian D. Mahan’s approach to Somatic Experiencing

PTSD Treatment | Trauma Therapy

Brian D. Mahan, SEP, LRMP is an experienced practitioner in Los Angeles who provides Somatic Experiencing Therapy. Somatic Experiencing therapy (SE) is a short-term, naturalistic approach, developed by Dr. Peter Levine, to renegotiate and heal both developmental and shock traumas. SE employs the awareness of body sensation to safely and gradually allow the autonomic nervous system to unwind, discharge, reorganize, and return to resilient homeostasis.

Stress, anxiety, panic, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often times misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. In the U.S. alone, 42 billion dollars per year is spent on the treatment of PTSD. And, women are twice as likely to suffer than men. However, men are less likely to seek treatment.

The word “trauma” unfortunately overshadows the intricacies and insidiousness of the long-term effects of a dysregulated autonomic nervous system. Sometimes these unresolved physiological events can remain dormant in the body for years before becoming triggered again. We are physiologically hard-wired for survival. Stress and trauma occur in the body, not in the event. Although there may be psychological implications, trauma is inherently a physiological condition.

the benefits of somatic experiencing

The results from Somatic Experiencing therapy include relief from shame, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, hyper-vigilance, habits and addictions, patterns and cycles of self-sabotage, and dissociative behaviors. It brings on a sense of reawakening and access to instincts which elicit feelings of centeredness, boundaries, empowerment, being “in the moment”, safety, and joyfulness.

Most of us have spent years trying to change the external environment (the details and circumstances of our lives) in an effort to change the internal environment (the way that we “feel”). 

Conversation with Alanis Morissette - Episode 8 with Dr. Peter Levin. In this podcast, Alanis talks with Dr. Peter Levine about stress and trauma recovery, resilience, Somatic Experiencing, and more. Subscribe on iTunes: