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