Somatic Experiencing In The War Regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Somatic Experiencing’s Application In The Former War Regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

In this article I’d like to share with you the trauma intervention work that’s being done using this psycho biologically based approach in former war regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The recent wars in DRC have claimed over 5 millions lives, leaving those remaining severely traumatized.  The ongoing conflict over the past 12 years, and a recent return of conflict in 2008, left the local populations terrorized.  Sadly, rape was used as a weapon, recruitment of children soldiers, and widespread civilian murders were all characteristic of this war.  The Congolese people’s foods stores, crops and fields were targeted, devastating their entire infrastructure and causing severe traumatization amongst it’s people.

Twig Wheeler with women animators in the Associations Movement.

Anthony “Twig” Wheeler, who is an internationally recognized trauma treatment expert who specializes in Somatic Experiencing, was invited as a consultant to join in the healing and rebuilding efforts of local grassroots re-development movement in DRC .  Anthony “Twig” Wheeler works in partnership with Hoskinson Consulting founded by Steve Hoskinson, a senior FHE staff member.

To give a little background of their project, with minimal financial support from European NGO’s a group of pioneering Congolese development experts in combination with partners from various religious and non-religious organizations has informed and motivated a powerful and effective grassroots movement focusing on local food production, food security and community safety and recovery. This “association movement” has galvanized individuals and communities to augment their individual family incomes by also working in small cooperative organizations or “associations” which pool work and resources as a safety net for individual members. These associations also share ideas and strategies for crop success, seed saving, trading of seed and so forth. Another deep interest of the association movement is to address the latent traumatization from the war, which has been identified as a critical impasse to full community recovery. It was this movement in DRC that invited Twig to come and look at the process of trauma and recovery.

These small associations that have been established throughout DRC are made up of like minded individuals who have come together to develop joint agricultural fields.  So far they have well above 600 groups formed and counting.  It’s the “animators” of the movement, who are self appointed men and women who receive a periodic training in how to facilitate meetings that keep this movement alive.  One of Twig’s roles while in DRC was to meet with these animators and help them understand the basic principles of Somatic Experiencing so they could incorporate this knowledge into how they run their meetings, the intention being to help make association participants feel more safety and freedom to participate and less likely to become overwhelmed when negative experiences arise – as is likely to happen for trauma survivors unless special attention is taken to address the needs of their sensitive nervous system. It was touching for me to hear that even with the destruction of their road systems, these dedicated animators travel long distances by bicycle to different parts of DRC to share these messages of hope that a better life can be created.

The joint community efforts of these small associations create cooperative savings of seeds, grains, and earnings from selling their crops.  Individuals are able to borrow small sums from the reserve savings to help pay for medical expenses and schooling for their children.  These sustainable groups are helping to bring healing to the traumatized communities in that they’re supporting people to claim back their own interdependence and communal solidarity.  Twig was relaying to me the value of the Congolese gaining back this control over their own lives.  All control had been taken away from them by the war. The effects of this empowering community structuring have proven to be a very helpful resource for people who otherwise feel estranged, isolated, and hopeless from the devastating affects caused by the recent war.

Twig with children after a chase.

In an interview with Twig, he relayed the ideas and aims behind the set up of the association movement.  They intended these associations to be a place where people within a community could attend to their own needs, hear each other out, and not have to look to a higher authority for every answer, ending the dependency dynamic.  In addition these associations serve as a communal meeting places where pressing issues could be discussed and people together could find the answer to their own problems. This intention toward autonomy is reflected by the animators’ tendency to defer from taking positions of authority, preferring to act as moderators rather than experts.

Twig was explaining in our interview, the healing benefits of the establishment of this movement in terms of trauma resolution.  For the individuals of DRC this community organizing is supporting the restoration of personal agency over their lives. In situations where there is repeated traumatization and severe violations, the sense of personal agency is often lost, leaving people feeling shattered, and helpless.  These joint efforts to restore a sense of empowerment over their lives, through these agricultural projects and group conversations, have been saving graces for the people of DRC. The establishment of these associations is an effective step toward providing a sense of stability in their lives. A step which will help dampen the severity of the stress response, as they look forward to what they’ve created together and draw strength from their interdependence, hearing out each others voices and concerns.

As explored earlier in this essay the trauma vortex tends to have a very strong magnetic pull, so these associations act as counter balancing resources to the dysregulation in their nervous systems brought on by their experiences in the war.  Communities gather to talk about what their concerns are. They enter into these discussions of how they can support each other in improving their lives, via the stabilizing resource.  Having created a source of food for their families, monetary resources from their joint efforts is something very positive, and empowering. According to Somatic Experiencing, the chances are greater of achieving stability in ones nervous system, or in a collective nervous system, if there are established resources that have counter balancing effects.   These associations act as these resources.

Twig was invited by this organization to bring the wisdom of Somatic Experiencing and it’s understanding of how the body can recover from trauma into the current projects underway in DRC.  With the help of Toss Mukwa of the Congo and Lothar Seethaler of Switzerland, trainings have taken place with other local organizations such as the Justice and Peace Commission, as well as to the “animators” of the Associations Movement. They provide a concise breakdown of the basic principals of Somatic Experiencing as they related to the people of DRC, with great portions dedicated to experiential learning.

Animator trainings that included the guidelines found in Somatic Experiencing have been organized to help support the association’s animators in their understanding of the dynamics of trauma and how to support their associations toward recovery.  For the people of DRC, this education of how the body responds to trauma has been tremendously healing.  In traumatology it’s a known principal that identifying where the threat is coming from is an essential step for an organism to begin to let down the stress response.  As part of the trauma treatment protocol education was provided to the people of DRC on the dynamics of trauma for this reason.

Gaining the logical understanding of why they were feeling threatened, hypervigilant, agitated, and exhausted, was a great relief for the people to hear . In my interview with Twig we talked about the responses the Congolese shared when they started getting this inside view of why they’ve been feeling what they’re feeling. Their eyes would grow wide and they commonly would say  “oh, that’s what’s been going on with me!, that’s why I’ve been feeling this way”.  The normalizing of traumatic response, and the making sense for people of why they were feeling unsafe and uneasy was a big part of the educational strategy of their movement.

The next step in their protocol was to address the residual fear following the war.  Traumatic experiences such as the Congolese war creates a malfunction in our body’s ability to detect relative safety.   As a result individuals with trauma are constantly attempting to identify where their perceived feelings of threat are coming from.  After a while of repeated unsuccessful attempts, people end up feeling afraid and on guard all the time, because the fear becomes generated from within and tends to build on itself.  Their body’s interrupted self-protective responses caused by the trauma of war, and the continual activation of the fear response, is what has kept the people of DRC in this autonomic stress response.  This is the nature of trauma, unintentional yet self-generated feelings of threat continue coming from within one’s own physiology. Of course in DRC there continue to be very real things in the environment that are in fact threats and are contributing to high levels of activation.

This high level of autonomic stress over such a long time period has lead the people of DRC’s physiology to the overwhelmed, and immobilized “freeze” response.  Twig observed in his group meetings of women who suffered from repeated severe sexualized violence, would fall asleep during the meetings. This exhaustion was almost certainly not out of boredom of the material presented, the information Twig was sharing was of great interest to people he met there. The issue was these women’s bodies were simply overwhelmed by continuous autonomic nervous system distress.

After observing that severe level of widespread overwhelm that people were experiencing in their nervous systems, it became clear how to proceed.  Twigs assessment of the situation in DRC from a psycho-biological perspective suggested that the primary needs in attending to the trauma within the communities was the continued attention toward restoring a sense of safety in their environment and developing communal and inner resources as imperative interventions.  When an individual’s nervous system is at this level of overwhelm reflective in chronic immobility, it is rarely helpful to go directly into having them recount their traumatizing experiences in a catharsis.   Their physiology is already on overload indicated by their observable level of numbness and frozenness.  It has proven to be re-traumatizing to ask a person to drudge up their horrifying memories of war and thus counter productive. Many psychotherapeutic approaches tend to use this cathartic strategy, which only sends a person’s physiology further into the stress chemistry.  The Somatic Experiencing healing paradigm is designed to attend to what feels safer first, to build nervous system resiliency, and then from that place slowly begin to access and deactivate the issues that hold higher charges in their nervous systems, such as war and the sexualized violence.

On a community wide level in the various association meetings, discussions were opened on how to decrease dangers and violence, specifically targeting women.  Women were able to express their fears of going into the fields to work alone, because typically that is where the sexualized violence would occur.  In these communal discussions facilitated by the animators, the group came up with the solution of working in teams in the fields, so no one ever had to feel scared and alone.  Other concerns that the women expressed were their fears of walking back to their homes alone at night.  Another common time for assults. So the creative solution that they came up with was that trustable men from the village were appointed to escort them home safely, so they didn’t have to walk alone. These are examples of how the groups have begun to find ways to help one another feel safer as a “logical reflection of reciprocity”.

This community re-engagement is an essential step toward supporting the restoration of a sense of safety and connection between people. The effects of the war turned friends and families against each other, creating huge breaches in what people could normally trust, disrupting communal solidarity at its core. After the war people were left feeling isolated and estranged from one another, which poses challenges in working together.   Twig said in our interview, traumatized people don’t work well together especially when they’re bodies are overwhelmed, and they feel triggered and not able to join in.

These were the challenges posed to the community rebuilding efforts.  The hope for this project is that entire communities can slowly begin to transform the imprint of their past experiences.  Through creating feelings of safety, they could deactivate their nervous systems and land into a new found sense of connectedness and safety.  This grassroots sustainable movement in itself is a tremendous resource whereby the people of DRC can begin to make small steps toward rebuilding resources and trust, preparing the ground for later renegotiations of their traumas.

I’d like to highlight the way in which Anthony Twig” Wheeler and the folks spearheading the association movement such as Toss Mukuwa of DRC and Lothar Seethaler of Switzerland have adapted the trauma educational strategies used in helping the Congolese by truly meeting and resonating with their culture.  In our interview, Twig shared how they used culturally applicable analogies and a story telling approach to explain the body’s responses to stress.  I appreciate the exquisite cultural sensitivities they’ve employed in their interventions, and the compassionate, creative, respectful way they’ve conducted their work in the DRC.  To find out more information about the Congolese trauma interventions or the work of Anthony “ Twig” Wheeler please visit his website or Steve Hoskinson at Hoskinson Consulting




69 “Somatic Experiencing in Democratic Republic of Congo Interview with Anthony “Twig” Wheeler.” Interview by Felicia Mihich. 15 Jan. 2010. Print.


* “Somatic Experiencing in Democratic Republic of Congo Interview with Anthony “Twig” Wheeler.” Interview by Felicia Mihich. 15 Jan. 2010. Print.


Women’s Empowerment in India with Somatic Experiencing

Beth Neilson MFT, is the founder of Lotus Circle International, an organization who aims to support the empowerment of women in India applying the Somatic Experiencing principals of trauma healing.  In an interview, I was able to speak with her about the success of using this psycho-biologically based approach to trauma healing.  Beth Neilson’s group work in connection with the local organization, “Village Action Group” (lead by Anbu and Morris, a wife and husband team of professional social workers.68 They conduct outreaches and support to over 250 self-help groups, touching the lives of over 3,500 women and 850 men, along the coastal regions.  These groups meet and discuss how they can improve their lives, i.e. micro financing, water taps, agriculture, road improvements, and education.

Beth Nielsen leads a practice group with village women.

Village Action Group requested support in the form of Somatic Experiencing for the locals after 9 women consecutively committed suicide in the surrounding villages.  They had great success working with Somatic Experience practitioners in the past, so upon these tragic events they recognized that this method of trauma healing was most appropriate.  Beth Neilson and her group of practitioners were invited to provide Somatic Experiencing education and treatments to the women, with the intention of empowerment.  When appropriate, men of the villages would also participate.  They conducted trainings with the leaders of these groups on the nature of trauma and the body and worked directly with the people in the group and private sessions applying the Somatic Experiencing approach to trauma healing.

Women in India, as well as many other developing nations, have a long standing history of marginalization.  Many of these women who participated in the Village Action Group work with Lotus International are illiterate or have very little education, and receive minimal healthcare.  Women of India are the backbone of the nation, but in this environment of inequality, it’s a real struggle for them to get their needs met.  Men’s frustration around being poor are often taken out on the women in the form of domestic violence.  Due to this repeated emotional and physical abuse, out of hopelessness these women felt that their only way out was suicide.

I was touched to hear about the kind of support that Beth’s Neilson’s group was providing for these women. Domestic violence and maltreatment were common occurrences in their lives.  Repeated abuse and acts of domestic violence have left these women holding high levels of charges in their nervous systems associated with thwarted s

Lotus International’s trauma intervention strategy was focused on reestablishing resources that could build up the women’s inner sense of strength.  In a group healing environment, Beth Neilson and her team created a space where resources could be built, and the excess energy from incomplete self-protective responses could be safely mobilized and discharged out of their nervous systems.  The intention was to restore a sense of empowerment and self-worth.urvival responses.  This collapse in their system was contributing to these women’s feelings of low self-worth and helplessness.

A village woman begins to feel her power during a Somatic Experiencing session.

Beth Neilson describes an exercise where she was encouraging everyone to pretend they were wild animals.  Growls, grunts, hands turned into claws, and arms were flying, as the group’s members playfully engaged in the exercise.  During the practice after making the animal sounds and gestures, they were invited by Beth Neilson to track the associated sensations in their body, by asking questions like “notice what you feel now inside your body, and notice what happens next as the sensations move through you.”  Many women experienced feelings of activation as an increase in their heart and breathing rate, tears, anger, and physical shaking.  The defensive movement that they were imitating from animals caused a response in their body, as they’re movement patterns similar to the ones thwarted in their abusive experiences.  This exercise was intended to help restore these women’s thwarted self-protective responses and aid them in the discharge of the built up survival energy trapped in their nervous systems.   This is a good example of how the use of play in Somatic Experiencing interventions can be very effective in helping a person access their physiological and inherent self-regulation in a non threatening way.

“Press Hands” was another exercises used in the group process to support their completion of healthy self-protective responses.  In that exercise the client is invited to press their hands against the practitioner with resistance and notice what they feel.  The client would track feelings and sensations that were activated by that contact.  In that process, feelings of helplessness were renegotiated, as they began to experience successful motor movements that resemble the type of movements they may have wanted to make in their past.  By engaging the musculature in their arms, shoulders and the use of their eyes (as an animal intensely gazes as to say “don’t come one step closer to me”), these women were able to restore their internal sense of where their boundaries were, giving them a new found feeling of strength and empowerment.

Lotus Circle International team with Auroville Village Action Group staff following a three day training in trauma healing and self regulation.

In Lotus Circle International’s group processes these women could build upon their inner strength and nurture solidarity amongst themselves.  This aided with the development of more physiological stability, and successful self-regulation inside their nervous systems.  They learned ways to contact and lend attention to their inner and outer resources, which acted as a counter balances to the charged sensations associated with their traumas.

In our interview, Beth Neilson shared that the women participants of the trauma healing groups reported profound changes in the way they felt and how they behaved.  They noticed these positive shifts when they would return to their homes at night -to their husbands and families.  This demonstrated that the tools they learned were practical and applicable in their lives, and helped them find inner strength and empowerment, which was the intention of their intervention.

To find out more about Beth Neilson’s trauma healing work, you can visit the website of Lotus Circle International at


The use of Somatic Experiencing Touch work with Tsunami Survivors in India

Raja Selvam Ph.D., a senior faculty member of the Somatic Experiencing professional training programs and founder of Trauma Vidya, organized a team of Somatic Experience practitioners to work with survivors after the 2004 Tsunami in South India.    They provided a short-term psycho-physiological approach treatment to over 200 adults and 50 children from 13 villages in South India’s state of Tamil Nadu.  The follow up research reported significant relief from symptoms, four weeks after the treatment.64  I would like to showcase this study to bring light to their success in the application of Somatic Experiencing hands on supportive touch work in their trauma interventions.

“Touch can be a very effective because human bodies are designed by nature to interactively regulate each other, especially in times of distress, as every mother intuitively knows.”65  In their Somatic Experiencing sessions with survivors of the tsunami, practitioners would apply the use of touch as an additional tool in their sessions, which would greatly support the stabilization of dysregulated physiology, and assist in the person’s self-regulation.  It can serve as a counter balance to the “epicenter” of the disruptive feelings inside a person to receive supportive contact.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the use of touch I’d like to share the following case study conducted by one of the team members, Jeanne du Rivage in their trauma intervention in post tsunami south India:

The boy whose heart was beating fast

As team member Jeanne du Rivage was wrapping up for the day, a young boy approached her, took her hand in his hand and placed it on his heart and uttered the word “tsunami.”  His heart was beating very rapidly and he communicated his need for help with his eyes and gestures.  He reported that his heart had been beating fast like that since the tsunami.  Much moved by this interaction with the boy, Jeanne sought permission to stay longer to work with him.  With the help of a translator, Jeanne helped him to normalize his heart rate by touching his chest and teaching him how to sense his body and help the discharge of high arousal in his nervous system through his arms and legs.  The boy was very responsive and seemed to intuitively understand the process.  At the end of the treatment, his heart rate was normal and he was more relaxed and happy.”66


As exhibited above in the case study, a traumatic response can manifest as a physical symptom.  In his case this child’s rapid heart beat.  He was able to find resolution from his symptom through receiving supportive Somatic Experiencing touch work, in combination with discharging his high state of arousal.

Another example of the effectiveness of supportive touch can be seen with a survivor of hurricane Katrina, as shared by one of the practitioners who was helping in the tsunami trauma interventions in India.  Due to this survivors recent experiences in the hurricane, he developed extreme anxiety and wasn’t able to fall asleep for days.  With the supportive contact of a hand behind his neck within minutes he was able to fall asleep.66   This suggests that supportive touch instantly helped his nervous system to shift away from sympathetic arousal, to the relaxing “rest and digest” mode of the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.

In the article “To Touch Or Not to Touch: Exploring the Myth of Prohibition On Touch In Psychotherapy And Counseling” Ofer Zur states: “Recent research done by the touch institute has demonstrated that touch triggers a cascade of chemical response-a decrease in urinary stress hormones (cortisol, catecholamine’s, norepinephrines, epinephrine), increases serotonin and dopamine levels.67 Not only does touch feel helpful, but as Zur suggests, there are actual chemicals and hormonal shifts that are occur during the use of touch that support the healing process.

64 Selvam Ph.D., Raja. “Treating Tsunami Survivors for Trauma The effectiveness of a short-term psycho-physiological trauma treatment approach among South Asian tsunami survivors.” Journal of Holistic Healthcare 2.4 (2005). Print. Pg. 1.

65 Selvam Ph.D., Raja. “Treating Tsunami Survivors for Trauma The effectiveness of a short-term psycho-physiological trauma treatment approach among South Asian tsunami survivors.” Journal of Holistic Healthcare 2.4 (2005). Print. Pg. 2.

66 Selvam Ph.D., Raja. “Treating Tsunami Survivors for Trauma The effectiveness of a short-term psycho-physiological trauma treatment approach among South Asian tsunami survivors.” Journal of Holistic Healthcare 2.4 (2005). Print. Pg. 3.

67 Zur, Ofer, and Nola Nordmarken. To Touch Or Not To Touch: Exploring the Myth of Prohibition On Touch In Psychotherapy And Counseling. Zur Institute, 2004. 2004. Web. Pg.4.






Somatic Experiencing Trauma Intervention with Tsunami Survivors in Thailand

I would like to talk about the study that was conducted with Tsunami survivors in Thailand using Somatic Experiencing and Trauma First Aid (TFA). TFA is a form created out of the Somatic Experiencing model, specifically designed to be used in early trauma interventions. One month after the Tsunami hit a team of 9 clinicians affiliated with the Foundation for Human Enrichment (FHE), which is the non-profit organization that Somatic Experiencing is founded under, were invited by the counseling department of Bangkok university to introduce SE’s “brief stabilization model”.

These clinicians provided orientation and training about the somatic basis of trauma to groups of local caregivers (eg. teachers, university psychology students, administrators, and the Thai Red cross).  They provided individual 40-60 minute Somatic Experiencing/TFA treatments to 53 adults and children. In this study there was a focus on “dysregulated biological responses”, as well as cognitive and emotional responses.58  Using the Somatic Experiencing model, practitioners worked with people’s horrifying stories of losing their entire families, and supported them in stabilizing their physiology and unpacking the high level of nervous systems arousal in their body from experience of the Tsunami.  In Leitch’s study “Somatic Experiencing Treatment with Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention”, she reports a touching story of one survivor: “His mother, sister and grandmother died in the waves. Father was trying to hold all their hands but couldn’t. He was tumbled by the waves and survived by clinging to a floating refrigerator.  Has been searching for grandmother’s body.  Sees the wave when he closes his eyes”.59

The common symptoms of tsunami survivors reported to the clinicians were “worry, anxiety, fear, auditory and visual flashbacks, sadness, hyper vigilance, concentration problems, muscle tension, and shallow breathing.60  Symptoms were addressed in a titrated fashion, with a focus placed on building internal resources and deactivating the high charges of stress and emotions using the Somatic Experiencing paradigm.  The results of the study show that 67% of participants showed complete or partial improvement in reported symptoms and a 95% showed complete or partial improvement in observed symptoms immediately following the sessions.  One year after the treatments, the participants who were located had maintained the improvements.   90% showing complete or partial improvements in reported symptoms and 96% showing complete or partial improvement in observed symptoms.59  These results suggest that biologically based approaches to trauma interventions in disaster relief settings are effective.

In her article, Laurie Leitch highlights the importance of Trauma First Aid’s early intervention model.  She states, “In disaster setting, in which survivors are often difficult to locate for more than a single session, brief intervention models are extremely relevant.”.61  Early interventions providing mental health to survivors of traumatic events have been found to shorten the period of suffering.62  If individuals can receive this type of physiological support soon after the event occurred and discharge the excess survival energy, the patterns of disruptions within them will not continue to ripple out into their lives.  The inner stability and self-regulatory tools that can be established within their nervous system early on, will provide a resiliency within which they can move forward and face long road of hardships that lay ahead.

Laurie Leitch, PhD  and Elaine Miller-Karas, MSW are co-directors of the Trauma Resiliency Institute (TRI) and together have conducted studies documenting the effectiveness of using psycho-biologically based approached in trauma intervention. They have adapted the teaching of Somatic Experiencing into a model known as the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) “Compassion without borders”.  They’ve conducted formal studies on the effectiveness of the application of TRM/Somatic Experiencing in Thailand with Tsunami survivors, in the United States with social service worker in hurricane Katrina and Rita, and in China with survivors of the recent earthquake.63  I have great appreciation for the research they’ve conducted, as it poignantly contributes to the recognition of this movements approach and its effectiveness in global trauma interventions.

58 Leitch, M. Laurie. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment With Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention.” Http:// SAGE publications, 8 Nov. 2007. Web. Pg. 17.

59 Leitch, M. Laurie. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment With Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention.” Http:// SAGE publications, 8 Nov. 2007. Web. Pg. 17.

60 Leitch, M. Laurie. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment With Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention.” Http:// SAGE publications, 8 Nov. 2007. Web. Pg. 16.

61 Leitch, M. Laurie. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment With Tsunami Survivors in Thailand: Broadening the Scope of Early Intervention.” Http:// SAGE publications, 8 Nov. 2007. Web. Pg. 17.

62 Leitch, Laurie, Jan Vanslyke, and Marisa Allen. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment with Social Service Workers Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” National Association of Social Work 54 (2009): pg.15 Print.


The use of Somatic Experiencing in Global Trauma Interventions

As the global climate changes, our planet will be seeing an increase in natural disasters.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and disruptive weather patterns are on the up rise.  Just over the 10 weeks of writing this essay, there have been two huge devastating earthquakes in both Haiti and Chile, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, in shock, and suffering the loss of their loved ones.  Entire nations are suffering and overwhelmed, trying to make sense of their shocking experiences, overloaded nervous systems, surrounded by the chaos of a collapsed buildings and infrastructures.  Presently, relief teams are in full force trying to do what they can in terms of medical aid, food, clean water, and psychological support in the devastated areas.  Conflicts and war over natural resources and various forms of violence sadly continue to deeply affect the lives of millions around the world on a daily basis.  It’s probable to say that traumatic stress disorders are on the up rise.

In the midst of this troubled world, I am hopeful in saying that there is a way to successfully support people who are in pain through their process of healing.  I believe it is possible to recover from trauma and return to our natural state of health, connectedness, equilibrium and vibrant aliveness using biologically based modalities such as Somatic Experiencing.  In the aftermath of disaster, the implications for applying this body of work in trauma interventions are huge . This approach does not stand alone in terms of biologically based trauma interventions in disaster settings.  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), are two approaches that also hold the awareness of biological responses to trauma, and have been show to have positive results in disaster intervention settings.57

In this section I would like to share a few examples of how Somatic Experiencing has been applied in trauma intervention outreach projects around the world, and their findings of it’s effectiveness.

57 Leitch, Laurie, Jan Vanslyke, and Marisa Allen. “Somatic Experiencing Treatment with Social Service Workers Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” National Association of Social Work 54 (2009): pg..10. Print.