Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
In the United States, 61 percent of men and 51 percent of women report exposure to at least one lifetime traumatic event, and 90 percent of clients in public behavioral health care settings have experienced trauma. If trauma goes unaddressed, people with mental illnesses and addictions will have poor physical health outcomes and ignoring trauma can hinder recovery. To ensure the best possible health outcomes, all care — in all health settings — must address trauma in a safe and sensitive way.
Providing care in a trauma-informed manner promotes positive health outcomes. A trauma-informed approach is defined by SAMHSA as a program, organization, or system that realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.
Learn more about trauma at www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence
Somatic Experiencing® (SE™) is a resiliency-based treatment for autonomic nervous systems dysregulation syndromes, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and physical syndromes like chronic pain, migraines, and fibromyalgia developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Dr. Levine was inspired to study stress on the animal nervous system, when he realized that animals are constantly under threat of death, yet show no symptoms of trauma. What he has discovered was that trauma has to do with the third survival response to perceived life threat, which is freeze. When fight and flight are not options, we freeze and immobilize, like “playing dead.” This makes them less of a target. However, this reaction is time-sensitive, in other words, it needs to run its course, and the massive energy that was prepared for fight or flight gets discharged, through shakes and trembling. If the immobility phase doesn’t complete, then that charge stays trapped, and, from the body’s perspective, it is still under threat. Somatic Experiencing® works to release this stored energy, and turn off this threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation. In Somatic Experiencing®, the traumatic event isn’t what caused the trauma, it is the overwhelmed response to the perceived life threat that is causing an unbalanced nervous system. Our aim is to help you access the body memory of the event, not the story. So we don’t discuss what happens if you don’t want to.