© Giselle Charbonnier 2017



Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a natural, gentle, and radical approach to the regulation of the nervous system, for the healing of symptoms originated by traumatic experiences, and, in general for learning how to cope with everyday stress, and live a more sustainable lifestyle.


By understanding the basic mechanisms that govern the activation and relaxation of our nervous system, we are in a much more powerful place to direct our experience away from stress, into the flow of life. These comprehensions alone can do a lot for the restoration of one's wellbeing.


Having worked with war veterans and victims of severe abuse, Peter Levine originally devised this method to facilitate the completion of unfinished protective responses and the release of traumatic energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This way of working is no other than nature's way of healing: operating in cycles, gently connecting physical sensations, emotions and thoughts, and increasing tolerance in amounts that can be comfortably handled.


The theory of SE was developed by Peter Levine, drawing from these main sources of information:

  • By observing how animals in wild life deal with everyday threats.

  • Extracting conclusions from his own clinical experience

  • By linking his observations with neuroscience latest discoveries.


Trauma is the result of an overwhelming event which occasionates the dysregulation of the entire organism. The extent to which a person is affected does not depend on the magnitude of the traumatic event itself, but on the capacity to self-regulate of the nervous system. The good news that SE bring is that, by learning how to restore these self-regulation capacities, trauma symptoms can be overcome.


There are various categories of trauma, which we may group into:

  • Shock trauma - mainly due to a one-time event.

  • Developmental trauma - the result of growing up in difficult environments.

  • Transgenerational trauma - inherited trauma which is transmitted mainly by two ways:

    • Via epigenetics
    • As patterns in the field which may remain for several generations, or as long as there is no restoration of the original events.
  • Social or Collective trauma - due to events that happened within our social context, either during our lifetime or in the past.



All these categories of trauma can coexist, (most they often do). Each one has specific requirements, yet, there is a common ground for them all: they all require a gentle approach, which gives priority to the feeling of safety and finding the person's (or the group's) own ground, resources and empowerment. SE practitioners have both the knowledge of these important requirements, and the training to stay in tune with the very specific needs of each person, in every step of their healing process.



My personal approach to somatic integration is always informed and permeated by my experience with Systemic Constellations, as I understand it is essential to include a systemic perspective for the developmental, transgenerational and collective aspects of the healing landscape. This has been my working modality for many years; always considering both the biological and the systemic levels as interdependent dimensions.


The main goal of my practice is the learning and self-empowerment in my clients, therefore I give priority to providing tools for self-growth and regulation. However, in many occasions, I still prioritize hands on approaches, like Cranio Sacral therapy, which may be more effective in situations of recent shock, delicate states, and early (pre-verbal) trauma.


Giselle Charbonnier