How Does Somatic Experiencing Help With Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

How Does Somatic Experiencing Help With Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Many people who have had an upsetting mental, emotional, or physical event or circumstance develop what’s called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can have lifelong effects, which is why it’s essential to reach out and seek help. For people with PTSD, therapy is helpful as well as medication treatment.

At Roots Recovery, one of the therapies we offer clients with PTSD is somatic experiencing. This therapy option works to address and persist past traumatic events in one’s life.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD develops after one experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Statistics show that this disorder affects seven or eight out of 100 Americans at some point in their lives, which is roughly eight million adults.

PTSD can result from adverse childhood experiences, loss of a loved one, divorce, illness, job loss, or a catastrophic event such as a car accident, combat, sexual assault, or crime. 

Signs and Symptoms

The following signs and symptoms are related to intrusive memories of the event:

  • Having nightmares
  • Having flashbacks
  • Having extreme responses to situations that remind one of the experience or trauma

Avoidance symptoms may also present themselves, including:

  • Not wanting to discuss the event or trauma
  • Avoiding people or places that remind one of the trauma

Feelings of hopelessness and emotional numbness may also surface due to PTSD. This includes feeling helpless, having negative thoughts about others and the world, losing interest in habits and things one loves, and having difficulty expressing positive emotions.

Changes in physical and emotional responses to situations are also signs of PTSD. These include:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Rage
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Shame

A PTSD diagnosis requires that the person has at least one symptom of re-experiencing the event, at least one avoidance symptom, at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, and at least two cognition and mood symptoms.

Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress

While PTSD effects can reveal themselves within days, weeks, or months of the trauma, some people may experience these effects years after. These effects may include:

  • Greater vulnerability to stressors
  • Difficulty holding down a job
  • Trouble maintaining personal relationships
  • Difficulty coping with social situations

PTSD can also lead to co-occurring conditions such as depression, substance use, or multiple types of anxiety disorders. 

Helpful Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress

The severity and longevity of PTSD symptoms vary among individuals. Recovery from PTSD can be a lifelong process, or it may be more time-limited. No matter how long it takes to treat PTSD, the symptoms and recovery time are not reflections on the people themselves.

If symptoms and intense feelings about any incident persist for weeks or months or suicidal thoughts surface, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. 

Talk Therapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a service for those with PTSD that help clients identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. These therapies can be held in individual or group sessions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), including exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring, is a type of psychotherapy beneficial to those with PTSD. 


Antidepressant medication, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may improve control over PTSD symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and emotional numbness. Often these medications are paired alongside psychotherapy. Other medications help address specific symptoms of PTSD, like sleep problems and nightmares.

During therapy and treatment, it is important to be surrounded by a supportive, caring environment, such as family and friends. Choosing to recover from PTSD can be challenging, but understanding one’s disorder and working through it can improve one’s life entirely. Treatment and therapy can open doors for a fulfilling and satisfying life. 

What is Somatic Experiencing at Roots Recovery and How Does it Work?

Somatic experiencing is a body-focused therapy for those with PTSD that’s proven to help people heal. This unique approach to therapy helps improve the client’s awareness of the inner physical sensations of the traumatic memory. Some people find it helpful that this therapy does not require the full retelling of traumatic events that other exposure therapies require. 

Somatic experiencing helps to heal trauma as well as other stress disorders. The approach allows people to release traumatic shock, a key component of transforming PTSD and restructuring reactions to the trauma. Somatic experiencing is a framework for assessing where people feel stuck in flight, flight or freeze responses. Through this assessment and understanding, the client and therapist can work to fix these psychological states. 

Getting to the Roots of Trauma 

Somatic experiencing addresses the root cause of trauma symptoms by helping the body complete its reaction to the trauma. The therapy facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body. Through this gentle, guided practice, people can develop an increased tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.

If someone is experiencing PTSD symptoms or is diagnosed with PTSD, seeking help may be beneficial long term. Finding the right therapy or treatment is key to coping with PTSD, and somatic experiencing may be a significant part of this process.

Here at Roots Recovery, we treat clients with PTSD and curate a plan for their greatest success. One of the therapies we offer is somatic experiencing, which takes a body-oriented approach that other therapies and treatments often do not. Clients learn to address the root cause of their PTSD symptoms and allow the body to heal from the underlying traumas. People develop a stronger tolerance for bodily sensations and suppressed emotions. Those who use somatic experiencing can release emotional wounds and attachment trauma and begin to flourish. We strongly encourage clients who do not have ideal results from traditional therapy or medication for PTSD to try somatic experiencing. To learn more, call (562) 473-0827.

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