Somato Emotional Release for Post-Traumatic Stress Recovery

Somato Emotional Release for Post-Traumatic Stress Recovery

Somato Emotional Release (SER) was developed by Dr. Upledger and Dr. Zvi Karni. They discovered that undischarged emotional stress settles in the body tissues.

These observations reestablish the fact that one’s psychology has a direct impact on the body.

Undischarged emotional stress caused by a traumatic event or period in one’s life creates concentric tensions within the body tissues.

In the therapeutic process of Somato Emotional Release (SER) these tensions are referred to as “energy cysts.”

How Does the Body Store Psychological Trauma?

When an incidental event or period in one’s life has been too overwhelming to deal with, the body’s response is to store the trauma in the body by walling off this energy.

Through further exploration, this was identified on a psychological level as dissociation. This means that a response to a traumatic event pushes the emotion into the unconscious (dissociation). The energy of emotion is then stored in the body tissues through the formation of an energy cyst. This truly is a survival strategy,  as it allows us to be able to carry on, in one way or another, with our lives.

The problem is that these energy cysts (trauma identities) require a lot of energy to be kept in place. Our remaining available energy must then move around this area.

In time, when we go through different experiences and difficulties, our compensating systems are overstretched and we might start breaking down. Depending on the exposure to trauma a person has experienced, this can be relatively soon after an event or take shape later in life. Physical symptoms will most often show up as chronic pain, complex syndromes and possibly manifest as cancer. Psychological symptoms will appear as lack of energy, burnout, depression and dissociative disorders. Often you will see a combination of physical and psychological symptoms.

Ways of Reversing the Dissociation Processes Through Assisted Somato Emotional Release

In the SER therapeutic process, a practitioner is able to feel the energy cysts through skilled palpation.  The client/patient can, through guided relaxation, become aware of these energy cysts and tensions in the body.

A dialogue will be initiated to access and work with the trauma. This will entail tracking body sensations during the dialogue, giving voice to a body part or organ, regressing to and replaying the event and associated emotions in slow motion, bringing a new perspective to the current situation and using survival strategies, once the emotional energy is released, as constructive strengths.

The unfolding of the therapeutic process is assisted by providing context and containment. It is NOT the aim to move as fast and with as much catharsis as possible through trauma. This only leads to retraumatization. Rather, it is important to slow down the whole process so that emotional energy which is freed up can be digested and constructively integrated into one’s life.

» Dive deeper into this topic by reading The Trauma Essential Series →

How does emotion affect you physically? Leave your comment below.

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  • Melissa says:

    This is absolutely true, and I believe it’s incredibly useful information- if only more people were aware of this… Thank you so very much ♡

  • Lisa says:

    It took many years to recover from 2 strokes during7 brain surgeries/1990, but, WOW, did I ever! Power From WITHIN and the Strength From Above were the 2 KEYS that helped me immensely!! I am Blessed with a 2nd Life, I always say.

  • Hédi says:

    I have dealt with PTSD since the age of 7 (i.e. 30 years) and I can attest, firsthand, that this information is all true. Deep, concentrated massage to break up fascia is also essential.

  • Madeleine says:

    Fibromyalgia for 10 years and only recently connected it to a traumatic childhood.

  • Deborah says:

    Hi Roland, how does one find a Somato Emotional Release therapist?

    • Roland says:

      Hi. Perhaps you could look for Cranio-Sacral practitioner in your area and if he/she does SER as well. Alternatively you could work with me online. Regards

  • Angelina says:

    So blessed to live in these times where this is understood. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to explain – super helpful.

    Multiple trauma survivor here – will spare you the details 🙂 – but was always able to process and move forward.
    But serious MVA in 2012 has got me looped in trauma symptoms.

  • Jacqueline says:

    This is so true. I have been noting lately when in talk therapy or regressions that the pain and tension shows up very clearly in my higher up right shoulder and sometimes runs down the whole of my right arm and leg.

    But how to release this?

    • Roland says:

      Keep being attentive to that physical pain and the connection to the emotional part and see if you can fully stay with that. If you can hold and contain fully the un-comfortableness of it – release might start to happen naturally. When you focus on release as an outcome you have lost connection to what is and release or integration can’t happen. Release come uninvited but you can work on containment and holding your presence.

  • Rachel says:

    Emotions what are they?
    I’ve had a little too much stress lately. A nasty accident, followed by having a bloke threaten me.
    Triggered big time.
    Every time I start to settle and feel things, something happens and I dissociate again.
    Rapidly losing all hope of ever finding a way to cope.

  • Sandy says:

    Emotions from the trama make me vomit, scream and create a void filled with pain that can only be relieved with more pain.