Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a form of alternative therapy aimed at relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences). It was created by trauma therapist Peter A. Levine. A very good book to read on the topic of trauma is Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score.
Another therapy modality that focusses specifically on trauma recovery is the Hakomi Method, which is a form of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy developed by Ron Kurtz in the 1970s.
Both SE and Hakomi share the belief that trauma experiences that occur either in childhood or as adults lodge in the body, and so long as they remain unconscious, will affect our behavior and create all kinds of problems with our health, life-coping strategies, and relationships.
As discussed above in my report on the Avalon Community, trauma recovery is currently a hot topic in Circling as many people don’t believe that Circling is effective for recovery from trauma experiences, and can even be damaging, by the simple fact that Circling is by its nature a peer-led movement, and so leaders and participants may lack knowledge or expertise in dealing effectively with people carrying deep trauma, and may re-trigger the circlee unawarely. This actually occurs quite frequently. As such there are situations where a somatic-based therapy modality may be very helpful, either as a substitute for circling or as an addition. Circling does have the capacity to provide a peer environment meeting contact needs, a social support network such as no therapy modality could ever provide (it would cost too much, to begin), and as such I would recommend both Circling and therapy for people dealing with trauma experiences.