Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event can take a heavy toll on a person, sometimes with lifelong consequences. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms can last for years after the inciting event. Somatic experiencing therapy is a unique approach that is different from other therapy methods used to treat PTSD. In this article, we introduce you to this body-focused therapy and help you understand what you can expect at the best somatic experiencing therapy program Washington offers.
What is somatic experiencing therapy?
The word “somatic” means relating to the body. A somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is a body-focused therapy program for people suffering from PTSD. This unique therapy approach integrates awareness of the body into the treatment process. Meaning, the therapist helps the client develop an awareness of physical sensations that are associated with traumatic memories.
The underlying principle of a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is that symptoms of PTSD are expressions of stress activation in the body and are incomplete reactions to a traumatic event. Somatic experiencing therapy is, therefore, designed to release these incomplete reactions and dissipate the related emotions.
What makes a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington different from other therapy modalities used for PTSD is that it does not require the client to re-tell or re-live the trauma. However, the client is required to engage with the distressing memories that cause physical symptoms. The goal of a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is to teach clients to recognize the activation of physical symptoms and downregulate them in the early stages using body awareness and self-regulation by redirecting the mind to pleasant memories and sensations.
A somatic experiencing therapy program Washington can be effective in treating the physical and psychological symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, and addiction. The framework of this therapy helps people who are stuck in a fixed mental state or freeze response to trauma.
What is the freeze response?
A somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is primarily based on something called the “freeze response.” In moments of danger or physical threat, the human body responds with the “fight or flight” response where it prepares to either fight or run away from an actual or perceived danger. This response includes things like the heart beating faster, the muscles tensing up, the breathing rate increasing, and glands secreting hormones in the body to equip it to escape or confront the danger.
However, a lesser-known response is the freeze response, which is what a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington addresses. This refers to a person freezing when they realize there is no way for them to fight a danger or get away from it. What happens sometimes is that a person gets stuck in this frozen state even after the danger has passed. The energy that was generated to fight or flee from the danger lingers and prevents the person’s complete recovery from the experience. As a result, the body does not reset and cannot become prepared to face another danger in the future. The trapped energy of the freeze response manifests as various symptoms of PTSD.
What to expect at a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington?
Because a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is not as well-known as some of the other therapy modalities used in addiction treatment, many people are hesitant about entering this program. However, a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington can be extremely effective in people with co-occurring PTSD and addiction, two conditions that often occur together. Here’s what happens during a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington:
Recognizing physical symptoms: The first step in a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is to learn to recognize physical sensations associated with traumatic memories. The therapist helps the client learn about the autonomic nervous system (the control system that regulates bodily functions). The client is then taught how to become more aware of physical symptoms and bodily sensations related to trauma.
Resourcing: The therapist administering the somatic experiencing therapy program Washington helps the client draw on positive memories to develop an innate resilience and use this strength to create a sense of peace. This tool is known as resourcing and helps a person stay calm when they experience traumatic memories or sensations.
Titration: The next step in a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington is where the therapist encourages the client to revisit the trauma and the associated distressing memories. This is a gradual process called titration in which the client slowly comes to terms with each aspect of the traumatic event. In other words, the trauma is slowed down to allow the client to handle it better. The therapist tracks the physical sensations associated with revisiting the trauma, such as clenching of the hands, faster breathing, or a high-pitched tone of voice. The client is also asked to report symptoms like feeling hot or cold, dizzy, or numb.
Pendulation: The sensations experienced during a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington are believed to discharge energy which has become stuck in the body. Once the release occurs, the therapist teaches the client to use breathing and relaxation techniques to process the trauma and move to a calmer state of mind. Over time, the pendulum-like swinging (pendulation) between a distressed and calm mental state reduces and the calmer state of mind starts to feel like the baseline.
Discover Recovery Treatment Center
Discover Recovery Treatment Center in Long Beach is a leading residential drug rehab facility that offers a range of psychotherapies for people struggling with addiction and PTSD, including a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington. Our team includes masters’ level counselors with extensive experience in helping people in recovery from substance abuse.
We offer a comprehensive and holistic addiction treatment program that includes medical detox, medication management, and substance abuse counseling services. Our program uses various therapeutic modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, contingency management, as well as a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington, all of which are beneficial in helping people stay sober for the long-term.
At Discover Recovery, we understand the importance of treating every aspect of a person’s addiction, including co-occurring conditions like PTSD, to achieve lasting recovery. To this end, we include a somatic experiencing therapy program Washington in our substance abuse treatment in people with PTSD. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and PTSD symptoms, get in touch with us at Discover Recovery today, and let’s talk about getting you on the path to recovery.