"Soma" is derived from the Greek word for: body.
Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, Ph.D., author of Waking the Tiger and In an Unspoken Voice, Somatic Experiencing draws from different theories to address stress from a physiological perspective.
Dr. Levine noticed that animals allow their nervous systems to complete natural responses to danger by noticing, responding too, and recovering from, perceived or actual threat. They use a large surge of energy to do this and then, allow that energy to discharge through movements such as trembling, shaking, bucking, running, etc.
Humans use thoughts or behaviors to stop the stress response process; preventing excess energy from leaving the body and causing trauma to remain stored. Without discharging excess energy, humans develop physical and mental health symptoms that cause them to respond to their environment according to prior experiences to threats, rather than through updated ways of resolving dangerous situations.
Somatic Experiencing assists clients in completing the stress cycles so that the person can respond to new challenges with more effective coping strategies and a refreshed nervous system.
Physiological and Mental Health symptoms indicate "stuck" energy within the body. We can create fluidity and resolve "stuck" points through:
2. allowing impulses to be felt
3. completing the cycle
4. witnessing new experiences
5. responding with a new understanding
Awareness can be established through the witnessing of micro-movements, that are observed during session, and are brought to the attention of the client through therapist observation. The client then allows the body to sense more fully its' attempts to protect itself. The client experiences that the threat no longer exists, and the body is permitted to reset its stress response cycle.
Sciarrino, N. A., DeLucia, C., O'Brien, K., & McAdams, K. (2017). Assessing the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary and alternative treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder: A review and synthesis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(10), 747-755.
WARNING: this video may be disturbing for some to watch.
This video shows a polar bear healing itself by completing a stress response. It is intended to provide further clarity on how the nervous system discharges energy.
For crisis or emergencies please call 911 or contact one of the following agencies:
ATX 24-HR Crisis Hotline:
Shoal Creek Psychiatric Hospital:
St. David’s Pavilion Psychiatric Hospital:
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1 (800) 799-7233
ATX 24-HR SAFEline (abuse/domestic violence):
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1 (800) 273-8255
LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline:
1 (866) 488-7386
National Sexual Assault Hotline:
1 (800) 656-4673
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741