Somatic Experiencing

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what is somatic experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing® is a body-oriented model for healing trauma.

When we live through a traumatic experience such as the loss of a baby, infertility and associated treatments, pregnancy complications, traumatic childbirth, a NICU stay, or other stressful experience, we automatically get a burst of survival-based energy. When our physiology can't shed all of that activation energy, it becomes trapped in the body causing physical and mental symptoms such as racing thoughts, intrusive imagery, muscle tension, emotional overwhelm, hyper-vigilance, absence of sensation or feeling numb emotionally, having no energy, or feeling out of it. These are all normal and understandable effects on our mind and body after such a distressing experience and with the right support, they aren’t permanent—repair and healing are not just possible, but probable.

The process of repair, or renegotiating the trauma response from a Somatic Experiencing® approach, involves experiencing very small doses at a time of what feels unpleasant (e.g., sensations, images, and emotions), with the focus being to release or discharge the trapped survival-based energy or tension from the body. This revisiting of activation energy is anchored by something resourceful that feels pleasant and helps calm your mind and body. When experiencing something resourceful, you might feel grounded, settled, warmth, or a softening of your muscles. We’ll achieve these very small doses by pendulating your focus evenly between unpleasant content and something that’s pleasant, or a strong resource. Oscillating between the two helps the body slowly tap into and then release stored activation energy at a gentle, balanced pace.

Wherever there is trauma there is also grief—whether it be from a death or the many other ripple effect losses as a result of the traumatic experience. To meet you where you are and support your whole mind, body, heart, and spirit along your healing journey, additional approaches such as trauma-sensitive mindfulness, therapeutic yoga, mindful self-compassion, ritual, and reiki may also be incorporated.

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somatic experiencing providers

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Holly Swick

Holly is a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional, Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness Practitioner, therapeutic perinatal yoga teacher, Reiki Level II Practitioner, and training in Somatic Experiencing®. She specializes in grief & trauma while building a family including pregnancy & infant loss, termination for medical reasons, fertility challenges, NICU, birth trauma, & pregnancy after loss.

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