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.