I am a disrupter. I tend to see the world differently than others. I’m an observer and a questioner. I once got kicked out of a class in undergraduate for asking too many questions. I question everything in terms of how can this be seen, felt, experienced, and processed differently? One thing I’ve been questioning since 2018 is mental healthcare and healthcare in general. On my own journey of healing (more on that in another post), I noticed a disconnect between traditional medicine, traditional talk therapy, what healthcare providers and practitioners are taught in school, and what people actually need.
I recently read an article called Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study. It highlights the work of Dr. Peter Levine and the program he designed called Somatic Experiencing™. The article is important for his work because it’s the first randomized control trial to explore the efficacy of Dr. Levine’s program. SE is a body-based approach to treating PTSD. Said more simply, SE practitioners believe that traditional talk therapy, while effective, is not fully addressing the underlying symptoms associated with PTSD and other traumas. I. Am. A. Big. Believer. In. This. Work.
Not all therapy happens in a chair talking one-on-one for 50 minutes. Sometimes, it looks like this.
Somatic Experiencing and integrative somatic therapy focus on the body’s response to a traumatic event and believe trauma is experienced, stored, and processed in the physical body. Therefore, talk therapy alone is not the path forward. In the theory behind SE (Levine, 2010), posttraumatic stress symptoms are considered an expression of stress activation and an incomplete defensive reaction to a traumatic event. From this theoretical perspective, the goal of the therapy is to release the traumatic activation through an increased tolerance of bodily sensations and related emotions, inviting a discharge process to let the activation dissipate (Brom et al, 2017). The study took 63 participants who were affected by war in Israel and evaluated their symptoms using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale. The results of the study concluded that SE is an effective treatment for PTSD and major depressive disorder; however, the authors caution more research is needed to include more groups such as sexual assault and complex trauma. I completely agree and I hope someone is working on research right now about the impact of somatic work on complex trauma. I am fascinated by how the body experiences and stores trauma, sometimes for generations. This disrupts the medical model and the current model of traditional therapy. I like being a disrupter in this way. Creating a continuum of care that includes treating the whole person is the way forward. For those who are suffering their way through the world every day struggling to understand their own mind, there is hope. There is another way. Heal the body. Heal the mind. This is the future of mental healthcare.
Brom, D., Stokar, Y., Lawi, C., Nuriel-Porat, V., Ziv, Y., Lerner, K., & Ross, G. (2017). Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study. Journal of traumatic stress, 30(3), 304–312. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22189