Often, traumatized clients find themselves becoming dependent on their therapists to help them handle their extreme emotional states. But according to Peter Levine, originator of Somatic Experiencing therapy, the key to helping clients achieve more autonomy is by giving them tools that enable them to better regulate their own body states.
In this brief video clip, Peter demonstrates a body awareness technique that includes loud, vibrating deep breaths to help clients minimize anxiety and self-soothe.
“The shutting down, collapsing response in trauma is associated with high vagal activity,” says Peter, referring to the vagus nerve that connects the brainstem with the heart. “This exercise shifts the messages that the gut is sending to the brain. It’s similar to a lighthouse making sounds to guide boats to safe harbor.”
Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.
Dr. Peter Levine holds doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology. He is the developer of Somatic Experiencing® (SE), a naturalistic body-awareness approach to healing trauma, which he teaches all over the globe. Dr. Levine is also the founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment and was a stress consultant for NASA during the development of the space shuttle. An accomplished author, Dr. Levine penned Healing Trauma, Sexual Healing and the bestselling book, Waking the Tiger. He also co-authored with Maggie Kline Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids. His latest book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, is a testament to his lifelong investigation into the connection between evolutionary biology, neuroscience, animal behavior, and more than 40 years of clinical experience in the healing of trauma.