Trauma is often misunderstood. Hollywood frequently portrays trauma as resulting only from large, dramatic experiences, such as a car accident or war.

But trauma can result from any situation in which too much happens to us too fast. When we have an experience that we perceive as a threat to our safety or well-being, no matter how large or how small, and the experience happens too quickly for us to assimilate, trauma is what is left behind; then the trauma hijacks our nervous system.

Many of us are unaware that we are even carrying trauma – let alone of the toll it has taken on our lives – until its symptoms become undeniable. The after‑effects of trauma can be life-long and debilitating. We can come to mistake trauma held in the body for a personality quirk or “just the way I respond to things.” Trauma can affect our habits, our outlook, and our physical wellbeing. And it can lead to a myriad of addictions and self-destructive patterns.

Many times a trauma response has become stuck. For instance, the freeze response that may have saved your life during the moment of trauma, now keeps you immobilized and unable to move forward in life. The fight response that was never fully expressed becomes chronic tension in the body. The flee response becomes a nervous leg that kicks up and down during an uncomfortable conversation.

Trauma can leave us hypervigilant and anxious. Or it can disconnect us from ourselves and keep us sleepwalking through our lives. 

When trauma is healed, shift happens.” 

"Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma" written by Peter Levine

"Through Somatic Experiencing I have been able to work through so much of my trauma, grief, and its complications. Grace has been a godsend in many ways. She exudes goodness and her professionalism, values, kindness, and gentle care are unrivaled."

- Satisfied client


Somatic Experiencing is a gentle, gradual, body-based, bottom-up approach to healing trauma. Because SE is a body-centered approach, you don’t have to consciously remember an event to heal from it. Bottom-up means that by focusing on the body sensations, you don’t have to revisit all the details of the trauma through cognitively telling the SE therapist all about it. In SE we visit trauma in the body, gently, slowly, in small digestible quantities. This process does not involve reliving trauma or generating catharsis. SE slowly and gently guides you to access “body memories” through the “felt sense” rather than through cognition. It is sensation rather than cognition that heals. Insights and energetic discharges occur from staying with your body while it makes these subtle shifts. Sometimes the discharge can be dramatic and visible. Other times it is subtle and quiet.

The inspiration for the work came from observing how animals discharge “near misses" in nature – from how a prey animal recovers after almost becoming a meal for a predator. Our nervous systems function in much the same way as theirs, but as humans, the completion of the response is often thwarted by needing to carry on with life, respond to first responders, or buck up and be there for somebody else.

"Somatic Experiencing International 

from the TRAUMAHEALING.ORG website

is the leading authority on the SE™ method and is a major provider of training and educational programs. SE (somatic experiencing) is a body-oriented therapeutic model that helps heal trauma and other stress disorders. Developed by Peter Levine, Ph.D., it is the result of the multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, with more than 45 years of successful clinical application."


When an automobile is struggling to travel up hill or through mud, it can be very effective to shift the transmission into a lower gear. There is significant power in slowing down to gain momentum. 

During our first visit, when you’re sharing whatever feels comfortable about the details of a traumatic event or events, or of specific stuck places in your life or body, we’ll take several pauses to gear down, orient to the present moment, and to bring your attention to your body sensations. This may mean that the whole story is not shared right away (or at all); or if it is, it will probably feel much slower than you have shared it in the past. This is done with the intention of letting the nervous system settle down to a place that is more manageable for the body.

Each time we meet, we will find a safe place to “land” before the session ends. We do this by finding something in your current environment or life experience that regulates your nervous system. For some it is gazing at nature out a window and for others it is remembering a moment in the week when you felt most like yourself and then tuning into how that feels in your body.

The mind often wants to skip over the things that “aren’t broken” and get to fixing “the problem”. But the animal of the body isn’t always so interested in cooperating with that agenda. By finding your unique “resources” or tools that help your nervous system come into balance, and then using those resources as touchstones, we very slowly work with the stored trauma during the session. Once discovered, these resources are available to you between session and going forward to empower you to work with your own nervous system.

By giving lots of space for the nervous system to feel regulated, and then moving very gradually in small increments with the sensations in the body, the nervous system becomes more balanced and able to handle life again. Ironically, taking it slower prevents a flooding response to the nervous system, and as a result, Somatic Experiencing is a very efficient and powerful method for releasing trauma. 

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Quote by Viktor Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor


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