SE (Somatic Experiencing) and NARM are body oriented therapies that work with the effects of shock, trauma and stress on the whole person: body, mind and emotions. By accessing awareness of the body, they reconnect us with our own natural healing capacities, so that both physical and emotional symptoms of traumatic events can be released.
Trauma lives on in the body. After having gone through overwhelming experiences (either in childhood or later in life) without the opportunity to ‘digest’ the strong sensations connected to the events, the nervous system still acts as if the situation was ongoing, even years or decades later. As a result, the body continues to respond as if it is still under threat. It is as if a part of us remains frozen in time.
When the body and the nervous system are in an agitated (or collapsed) state, our capacity for enjoyment is impaired. We may move through life with a sense of not feeling safe, a lack of connection with ourselves and others, an inability to relax or be fully present, with sleep or eating disorders, chronic pain or tension, addictions, or other stress-related symptoms.
Whether you have suffered shock or developmental trauma, most likely you have spent a lot of your energy trying to manage the effects of something that was ‘too much, too fast or too soon’. You may feel agitated, anxious, stressed and irritable (too much) or on the other hand you may feel depleted, withdrawn, isolated, and depressed (too little). These are all expressions of the profound changes trauma can produce in the body and in the psyche.
The classic forms of talking psychotherapy are limited in working with traumatic symptoms since they don’t address the critical role of the body in healing. ‘Trauma is not in the event but in the nervous system’ (Dr Peter Levine) so to heal trauma, the body and specifically the nervous system must be included.
SE (Somatic Experiencing), the groundbreaking work of Dr Peter Levine, is based on his decades of research into the effects of trauma on animals and human beings. It is now the most widespread form of body-based (psycho)therapy in the world, due to its unparalleled efficiency in helping people come out of trauma-based symptoms and long-term suffering.
NARM (Neuro-Affective Relational Model) is a relatively new cutting-edge approach developed by Dr Laurence Heller.
NARM focuses on developmental (childhood) trauma and combines the SE-based understanding of working with the nervous system with a very sophisticated psychotherapeutic approach. In NARM, we address the often life-long effects of childhood wounding and examine the resulting harmful emotions and beliefs about ourselves in a gentle and respectful, but extremely powerful way. As a consequence of this approach, clients report feeling less burdened by the past, freer and more ‘themselves’.
SE and NARM sessions are conducted sitting on chairs and may at times involve gentle bodywork on a table. The focus is on the here and now and on restoring and building new capacities. When we rediscover our body and release energies bound in trauma from our body, our capacity for vitality, enjoyment, and resilience to the stresses of life returns. Clients often refer to this process as ‘coming back home’.