“Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a potent psychobiological method for resolving trauma symptoms and relieving chronic stress. It resets the nervous system, restores inner balance, enhances resilience to stress, and increases people’s vitality, equanimity, and capacity to actively engage in life.” (From SE Trauma Institute)
SE could be described as a specialized form of mindfulness that specializes in building resilience in the autonomic nervous system. Sessions are guided by tracking the body’s experience through sensation, images, touch, emotion, and spontaneous movements. With certain traumatic/difficult memories stored in the body, it can be tempting to experience them in an overwhelming way. With SE, we slow the process down and attune to the body in a way that notices supportive processes that easily go unnoticed.
Here is an introductory video to SE…
Personally, I have found it essential to approach this work very gently. So instead of storming right into the body’s experience (especially if stuck in states of intensity or shut down), getting good foundations established. Particularly, offering stabilization to the system through having the senses receiving time and place, which is a gentle way of shifting into ventral vagally toned states. Also, as so many of us have deep relational trauma, making adjustments that invite the client’s system/person to show up on it’s own terms, instead of as a performance for the practitioner. With these conditions set up/cultivated, it becomes a lot more natural for the body to reorganize trauma patterning in a less intense way that actually can integrate. When people become aware of trauma memories in their systems, there can be the idea that something intense needs to happen to make it repattern or go away. However, these intense states can be addictive or overwhelming, and many of us have found that it’s much more effective to work in a less intense way. In fact, I find it common to have enjoyment and laughter in sessions (of course, it takes some time for systems chronically stuck in intense states).
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy
I offer trauma informed biodynamic craniosacral sessions. Trauma informed, because I have had training and experience in working in a way that is especially kind to the body. Honestly, many of our systems aren’t always ready for BCST work. Even though it’s so gentle and deep, we may go through periods where our systems are needing boundary repair, or to relearn how to show up as ourselves and not to please the practitioner. Further, our body/mind/spirit systems may need extra time, to get the nervous system recalibrated in states of orientation to the outside in time and place. I say this last bit, because although it can be valuable to dive into the inner experience, we are likely to end up disoriented (not in easy connection with the outside world) if we keep doing this… Personally, I think BCST is profound and so beautiful, but even more so when there is the opportunity to listen to the client’s system and sense with them how they made need some foundations re-established to better receive the work.
In terms of general education… here is information about BCST from a flyer published by BCTA/NA:
What is Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy?
Biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST) is a gentle, light-touch, non-invasive therapy that helps restore and maintain health in the human body. While not a manipulative therapy, it has its roots in osteopathy and has evolved to include advances in neuroscience, human development, pre and perinatal psychology, and trauma
resolution. Practitioners are trained to facilitate the resolution of conditions resulting from stress, overwhelm, and injury.
What is a Session Like?
The length of your session may vary, but is usually between 45 and 90 minutes. During a session, you rest fully clothed on a comfortable table. The practitioner aims to create a calm and supportive environment. The guiding principle for a session is that your body is always moving toward health. Through a light touch, your practitioner will listen for any compensatory patterns that may be present, and assist your body in accessing its own healing capacities.
What is the Craniosacral System?
The physical craniosacral system extends from the cranium (skull) down to the sacrum (tailbone). It encompasses the brain and spinal cord, which governs the health of the nervous system and affects every other system in the body. Our biodynamic approach to the craniosacral system is a wholistic one, so no part of you is left unattended. The breadth of our craniosacral work includes the physical body as well as its fluid and energy systems, all of which naturally support our mental/emotional
What Conditions Can Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) Help?
BCST addresses the underlying conditions that can inhibit the expression of health in your body. The source of our particular discomforts are commonly trauma-based or
symptoms of overactivation from stress. Your therapist will facilitate a favorable environment so your body can return to a natural state of ease. BCST helps bring forward your body’s expression of wholeness and wellness. It supports your body in remembering, reorienting to, and renewing the health that is never lost. Part of what differentiates our work is we do not see you as a list of symptoms or as a disease. The underlying principles of BCST highlight the health and innate healing wisdom that exists in your body. We see you as a whole individual and work with you to create the right conditions to allow your body’s health to express itself. BCST is gentle and safe, making it effective for people of all ages. Many clients find it supports the relief of symptoms associated with a wide variety of health conditions. Because BCST promotes expression of health in all the body’s systems, it fosters well-being in all aspects of your life.
And in my own words…
So what is BCST? The honest answer is that I give as many definitions as there are different types of people I meet. Although this is consistent with the work’s fluid nature, I understand it can be frustrating for those who want a set definition… One way of pointing to the nature of the work that I really like, is to start by looking around to things like walls, tables, doors.. just noticing how you experience these kinds of inanimate objects… and then looking at trees, plants, and the living world outside… You may notice that there are rhythms of life that the natural world expresses, and often slow rhythms… look to the tides of the oceans… then look to your own body… surely this body has these same marks of the natural world? In states that feel like stuck on (anxiety) or collapse (depression), there isn’t much space to express these slower natural rhythms in our body. And that’s a shame, because they are the ones that bring natural healing and repair responses, especially with another person present who is kindly attuning to your body. How else is the natural world able to flourish without all the supplements, medicines, and complicated homes that humans seem to require?
I find it refreshing that BCST is a non-manipulative and enables inherent expressions of healing. BCST does not center around searching for the issues in ones body or mind, but attunes to the forces of health in the body. This is like the difference between being listened to by someone who is seeking out your flaws as you speak and someone who is noticing your benevolent intentions and qualities. I love how this is such a simple principle, and yet is able to be so effective.
Sessions involve light, gentle and negotiated touch, while the body is listened to as a whole. What does this mean? Well, instead of narrowing in on certain locations, the body is tuned into as a whole system of many systems, with awareness of space around. Each body is different, and in order for the nervous system to settle and make way for healing processes, there needs to be an attuned way of palpating the body and giving it appropriate space to find it’s own rhythm. When the body settles sufficiently, different layers of the body come to the foreground with healing processes that wish to happen. This is similar to how when you feel safe and at ease with someone, you may be able to share something that really matters to you and find relief or wisdom from it (but here it involves the whole body). The important point here, is there has to be an initial settling, which allows for the body’s self healing capacity to work with the BCST practitioner to determine what wants to happen in a given session.
The historical roots of BCST, besides it being a timeless form of healing practice, actually come from Osteopathy. In my humble opinion, BCST was at the roots of what Andrew Taylor (founder of Osteopathy) was teaching. Yet, with mechanical expressions of science becoming the most trusted, this “gentle” way of working became not so dominant in the Osteopathic community. Though due to the work of William Sutherland, this kind of work experienced a revival that continues to the present day. It is now being taught outside Osteopathic schools, usually in the form of 2-3 year long training programs.