Somatic Experiencing (SE)™

What is Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™?

Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ is a trauma healing modality that works with the felt sense of the body. The approach was created by Dr. Peter Levine who observed animals in their natural state in the wild. He noticed that animals would come in to contact with life threatening situations daily, yet they did not seem to have signs of trauma long term such as chronic anxiety, PTSD, or shutdown. Dr. Levine explored how the nervous system reacted during times of stress or trauma and how the body naturally resolved high stress physiological states in animals initially and then came up with a therapeutic approach to working with people.

Somatic Experiencing Connections
Somatic Experiencing Diagram

SE ™ therapy works with a person’s autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes. We do not consciously think of how the autonomic nervous system works. Bringing awareness to our experience at any given moment can alter our physiological state. For people who are in chronic pain or high stress physiology, the goal is to encourage the body’s innate ability to heal.

This somatic modality works with fight, flight, freeze and flow systems of the body and its goal is to bring folks back into nervous system coherence (balance). Often during times of shock, distress or stress our bodies become stuck in maladaptive patterns. During times of danger, our bodies are meant to react but then we are meant to come back into flow. Sometimes, people get stuck in dysregulated states which can cause a variety of physical, emotional, psychological, immune system, and nervous system ailments.

How is Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ Different From Other Modalities?

Traditional talk therapy is useful to obtain insight as to why we are the way we are and the patterns and belief systems that are not serving us in life. We call SE ™ at NC Center for Resiliency the “now what” modality. Many people call our center and have a lot of insight in to how and why they are the way they are yet medication still is not working, they cannot sleep, they are having problems functioning at school or work, or they are having difficulty “moving on” from a trauma event and things of this nature.

SE ™ and integrated practitioners manipulate the autonomic nervous system and help a person come back into a natural state of self-regulation. SE ™ therapists will give you skills to work on in therapy and outside of therapy to help you come back into coherence. Recommendations might include suggested lifestyle changes or referrals to other integrative health practitioners so you get the full support you need. The body and mind are completely integrated and our goal at NC Center for Resiliency is optimal health.

Coherence is a term used by scientists to describe a highly efficient physiological state in which the nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and harmoniously. Coherence has been identified by some athletes as “the zone” and some meditation instructors as “the flow”. Essentially coherence is the target HRV (Heart Rate Variability) zone for all healing systems of the body to function at its highest potential and for emotional balance. When using the SE ™ modality we are looking to manipulate the nervous system and offer a repair by introducing a new felt sense in the body or a completion of a nervous system response that did not have time or space to complete during a traumatic event.

What Has History Shown as Far as Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ Effectiveness?

Somatic Experiencing ™ has been around since the early 1970s and is more well known in certain parts of the country than others. It takes a very long time to standardize a counseling approach as well as collect research data. Somatic Experiencing ™ is considered an evidenced-based approach and in the last few years there has been an increase in research on this modality.

Link to a research article »

For What Disorders is Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ a Good Approach?

Being in a regulated state can help everyone! Many physical, mental, emotional and interpersonal conditions can be served by SE ™ treatment. Higher performing athletes and professionals are using the SE ™ approach as a form of optimizing their professional careers. In a more regulated state, our brains work better with decision making, creativity and high performance.

Below is a short list of issues for which the somatic approach is commonly used:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Medical Conditions
  • Shock trauma
  • Developmental trauma
  • Medical Trauma
  • ADHD
  • Terminal Illness
  • Compassion Fatigue
  • Burnout
  • Relational/Interpersonal Issues
  • Sports performance
  • Car accidents
  • Falls
  • Creative Expression
  • Yoga therapy
  • Family conflict
  • Academic under/over achievement
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Marriage counseling
  • Trauma
  • Addictions
  • Stress
  • Family counseling
  • Couples counseling
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Life transition
  • PTSD
  • Sexual issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Self esteem
  • Identity exploration
  • LGBT affirmative counseling

How To Benefit From Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™

The best way to see how you might benefit from Somatic Experiencing ™ is to book an intake appointment with a provider who can do an assessment with you. You may be clear on how trauma or high stress physiology is affecting your life or you might not have any idea, yet you know something is wrong. People with chronic pain or physical health conditions would benefit. Finding a skilled practitioner whose scope of practice is in alignment with your physical, mental health or relational symptoms would be best. You might see your markers for pain, blood pressure or autoimmune responses decrease. You may feel like you are participating with greater ease in your relationships at home or professional life. Your anxiety or depression symptoms could decrease and you might experience a greater sense of confidence, alignment and creativity as you move forward with treatment.

Who Can Benefit From Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™?

Anybody can benefit from SE ™. Infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, adults, aging adults. Couples and families can benefit from being more self-regulated as well as work teams of all kinds and various corporate groups.

In the world today who couldn’t benefit from being better regulated is the question! If all learned self and co-regulation skills, the world would be a much better place. We all have lived through something traumatizing, whether that be personally or socially. Turn on the news and track to see how quickly you go in to high stress physiology. We all can benefit from being more regulated.

It is great to resolve trauma as soon as possible so that it doesn’t fester in the body and create chronic conditions. All NCCR therapists are trained in Somatic modalities individually as a form of self-care and self-growth!

What is the Usual Cost of Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ Compared to Approaches to Therapy?

The cost of SE ™ is different with every provider, but costs typically range from $90-$150 per session. As many different types of practitioners can get this certification, it will depend on the profession as to whether insurance would cover a SE ™ session. At NC Center for Resiliency, all our staff are licensed mental health professionals and trained in a somatic modality. We are in network with BCBS and out of network with all other insurance companies, but our services are typically covered with a superbill submission.

Woman in the Woods

Who is Qualified to Administer Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ ?

Many differently types of practitioners can be trained in SE ™. Typically, practitioners in the fields of: psychotherapy, psychiatry, neurology, physical therapy, body work, occupational therapy participate in this training program. SE ™ therapy is a 3-year certification process through the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Healing Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The training requires several multiple-day trainings throughout 3 years. In addition to the in-person training, practitioners are required to do personal sessions, professional case consultations with approved consultants and participate in peer study groups in between modules. Some practitioners choose to do a portion of the training and can be certified at the Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced level. Practitioners who complete this 3-year training program and all of its consultation requirements are called “SEP’s” or Somatic Experiencing Practitioners.

How can I get more information on Somatic Experiencing (SE) ™ ?

More information on SE ™ can be found here »

On this website you can find a local training program if you are interested in becoming a practitioner. If you are a client seeking SE ™ treatment, you can locate a therapist near you via their practitioner listserv by typing in your zip code.

Why Should I Choose NCCR?

NC Center for Resiliency is an employee-based group practice located in Chapel Hill, NC. Our company is comprised of a diverse team who serve a variety of populations. Due to our employee model, our company offers the team infrastructure for moving a case forward at optimal speed. If a family system is working with our team, we have platforms for communication and treatment that can move an entire system forward with ease.

All of our employees are enrolled in psychobiological training as “education” is a core value of our company. The clinical team is enrolled in several hours of peer and professional supervision each week.

Each member of the NCCR clinical team has access to a handful of very seasoned somatically integrated somatic practitioners should they need help and support with their client caseload.

Our center’s mission is to change the paradigm of mental health treatment in the State of NC and beyond! As a company we are highly interested in decreasing barriers to mental health treatment and teaching clients and the community at large about the mind/body connection. We love bringing various forms of healthcare together for the betterment of our clients.

We are looking to help cure conditions rather than teach people how to manage their symptoms. If you are looking for a paradigm shifting, holistic and integrated approach with a caring and supportive team, we very much look forward to hearing from you. NCCR provides therapy to people in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Carrboro, Hillsborough, and many other cities in Wake, Orange, Durham, and Alamance counties.

Our self-pay rates will soon be updated. Please contact our staff for more information.