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Somatic Experiencing

Experience freedom from the troubling symptoms of trauma and regain your sense of autonomy, peace and well being.

great for healing trauma, including PTSD

designed to help both physical & psychological disorders

available in both in-person & virtual based sessions

Somatic Experiencing in Colorado Springs

What is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic experiencing is a form of gentle therapy which relieves the symptoms of unresolved trauma by supporting the client’s nervous system to do what it is designed to do, but may have "forgotten" how to do: to heal itself naturally.

How does Somatic Experiencing Work?

Somatic experiencing therapy addresses the symptoms of trauma where they begin: at the level of the nervous system. The symptoms of trauma, such as sleep disruptions, anxiety, digestive disorders, etc arise from over activation of the centers in the brain that activate under stress and threat. SE therapy works to gently de-activate these centers, resulting in the restoration of well-being. This is done with a combination of talk, and guided tracking of your sensory experience.

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What some of our happy clients had to say

"I experienced several traumatic losses as a child which have severely impacted me as an adult. I have done lots of talk therapy, somatic practices, and 12 step programs all of which have helped me, yet I found myself still repeating some of the same destructive behaviors, and unable to change.

Working with Avadhan through Somatic Experiencing sessions has allowed me to re-connect with parts of myself I didn’t know were lost; parts of me that have been running my life. I’ve been able to feel emotions I thought were off limits in a safe space. Avadhan has a wise presence and thoroughly understands trauma. I have worked with many somatic practitioners and she is by far the most experienced, most grounded, calmest and most reassuring somatic practitioner I’ve worked with. My work with her is transforming my relationship with myself and my life and I feel very fortunate to have found her."

Carmela Hermann Dietrich
Los Angles, CA

"It is with a deep feeling of gratitude that I wholeheartedly recommend Avadhan and her skillful use of Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy. I came to work with Avadhan and SE as a result of the realization that I was disconnected from my body. My mental activity dominated my experience causing confusion and anxiety. My life seemed fragmented, heavy and one-sided. Realizing that my body has its own way of being that I knew little about, I longed to simply feel and begin to find out if I could live differently, meaning wholly in body and mind. With Avadhan’s expertise in SE together with her gentle, wise and directed guidance she provided the reassuring space in which I trust it is safe to enter, to stay and to experience my body’s sensations and associated emotions.

While some sensations seem frightening generating emotions like fear, because Avadhan is deeply and fully present with me, I am learning to follow and explore what is happening in my body (and not be separate from it) in a patient and compassionate way. My body's own wisdom and understanding is allowed to emerge at its own measured pace. I find the work with

Avadhan is a collaboration, where there is a mutual and deep respect for one another as my deeply longed for whole way of living continues to unfold. Through personal SE sessions with Avadhan it is my experience that you can safely feel and allow mind and body to wholly heal living the benefits."

Teresa Meister, Colorado Springs

"My son has struggled to sleep through the night since he was born. As a mental health professional, I knew that his nervous system suffered trauma during his seven day NICU stay despite the nurses' certainty that he would "not remember" any of his treatments. I am grateful for those treatments as they were medically necessary to save his life; however, the months following the NICU left my son dis-regulated and in a state of panic during the darkest hours of the night. As sleepless nights and months passed by, it became clear that well-baby visits were triggering my son's trauma and I searched for a provider to heal his nervous system. Since beginning our work with Avadhan, my son has slowly started sleeping more soundly through the night and successfully attended his 18 month well-baby visit without subsequent night terrors. For these precious nights of full sleep, we are grateful. Even more so, as I witness my son engage with Avadhan, I am humbled by her gentle presence and curiosity in my son's world. She is incredibly attentive and attuned to his slightest changes as well as helps me make sense of his behaviors at home. We were surviving without Avadhan. As we move forward with my son's work, we are slowly beginning to thrive. Most importantly, my son is beginning to feel safer in his world and I better understand how to protect his safety when he feels most vulnerable. Words are not exchanged during their session and, truly, words cannot capture the beauty of my son's healing."
-K.B.

A Brief History of Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing, developed by Peter Levine, is a gentle therapy for resolving and discharging unresolved survival energies, thereby healing the symptoms of trauma.

It is based on the fact that we, like animals in the wild, are biologically designed to do this; in other words, our bodies, given adequate support, know exactly what to do to in order to heal.

If our bodies know how to heal, then why haven’t we done so?

Just as we have a primitive part of our brain that governs survival responses, we also have higher brain functions of emotional and cognitive responses, which often interfere with this body wisdom.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a method of supporting our bodies to access this body wisdom and apply it to healing and resolving the effects of trauma.

Trauma is a fact of life. Most of us, not just soldiers or victims of abuse or attack, have been traumatized. The sources of trauma are wide-ranging; these include natural disasters, exposure to violence, accidents, falls, serious illness, sudden loss of a loved one, surgeries, medical and dental procedures, childhood neglect or abuse, difficult births, and even high levels of stress and toxicity during gestation in the womb.

The key to understanding why these symptoms occur lies in our biology. Peter Levine, in observing the behavior of animals in the wild, discovered that even though animals are routinely exposed to potentially traumatic events, they rarely suffer from traumatic symptoms. If while being chased by a predator an animal manages to escape its attacker, it literally shakes off the event and then rejoins the herd.

He also observed that in the case of an animal that does not escape, its powerful instinctual survival energies drive the animal to flee, but at the moment of capture it falls, immobile, to the ground. This state, called the freeze response, is a kind of altered state, which allows the animal to avoid suffering at the time of death. But it also has survival value: If the predator does not kill its prey immediately, the prey animal may still arouse from its trance and escape.

Understanding the immobility or freeze response

This state of immobility or freeze holds the key to understanding trauma. Once aroused, our survival responses of fight or flight need to come to successful completion in order for our nervous systems to come back to a state of rest and equilibrium. When we are unable to complete these responses, our nervous systems default, as it were, to freeze. The frozen, immobilized state may look calm on the outside, but internally the state can be compared to what happens in a car when we step on the brake and the accelerator at the same time. A huge amount of energy is revving, usually below conscious awareness, creating the symptoms of trauma as we know them.

Trauma symptoms develop when we cannot complete the process of moving through the immobility response and discharging these powerful survival energies.

Since these instinctual energies are generated in the most primitive part of our brain, symptoms of trauma tend to be related to the functions regulated by that part of our brain: breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, appetite and digestion, sex and sleep. These symptoms seem to be our bodies way of binding or containing these intense survival energies until they can be resolved.

Not all traumatic events will create symptoms

Trauma related symptoms are rampant in our modern lives. Symptoms of unresolved trauma can include:

  • Panic or anxiety (including panic attacks)
  • Hypervigilance
  • Chronic pain of all kinds
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic tension
  • Addictions of all kinds
  • Migraines
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Dissociation
  • And many others!

What to Expect during your Somatic Experiencing Sessions

Somatic Experiencing is a gentle therapy.

There is little to be gained in re-traumatizing our nervous systems by re-living a traumatic event, or by working with cathartic (emotional) methods or cognitive methods, since these approaches work with the higher brain centers, not the primitive brain centers which mediate survival energies.

To work directly with the inherent wisdom of the body, Somatic Experiencing largely bypasses the cognitive brain centers by utilizing the language of the primitive brain: sensation.

By working with a person in a state of resourced, pleasant body sensations and gradually working with the edge of the nervous system activation, the inherent body wisdom takes over.

This gradual working of the edges of the nervous system activation gently allows for the discharge and completion of the instinctual survival energies, resulting in a restored sense of settling and well being.

What will happen during the session?

We will sit together and you will tell parts of your story, but rather than focusing on the story itself, we will track together the responses of your autonomic nervous system, which is where the symptoms of your trauma actually originate.

When I notice activation in your nervous system we will pause and work gently with the activation until it resolves and settles before moving on to the next part of your story. To help you do this, we will work primarily with sensations and images and sometimes also with gentle body movements and words. For the patient, a Somatic Experiencing session is usually a relatively pleasant experience, which is wonderful news for people suffering from the unpleasant, destabilizing symptoms of trauma!

Somatic Experiencing Therapy Colorado Springs

"How glad I was to find Avadhan as an SE practitioner when I moved to Colorado Springs! Her solid and grounding presence along with her ability to track both my physical and emotional responses was invaluable. She was and continues to be a very important part of a successful life transition for me."

- Victoria Tonski, Colorado Springs

"Avadhan, I want to be sure I have properly thanked you for doing what you do. Your skill and clarity helped me cut through a huge obstacle to my well-being and I am deeply deeply appreciative. It's been nearly four years since I smoked. Given how hopeless I felt about ever quitting, I am amazed to be on the other side of it all and am freer than I ever dreamed possible. I think I would still be struggling had it not been for my work with you."

Anne Hackler, Massachusetts

"You know, I want to tell you that I live every day with such joy now. Every moment. My experiences from that time long ago so often come up in my sessions with my clients as a way to reassure them that there is always the potential for great change. I am living proof of that. It took dedicated and courageous work. And I let people know that, too. I wasn't fearless, but I was filled with the desire to heal and I had the courage to be willing to bare my soul to people who started out as strangers to me. You, Dick, began as one of them. But you became a true friend who also had the determination and courage to step into my churning sea and help me create those islands that did indeed become plentiful enough to step from one to another without falling in. From there, I could begin to navigate the storms in a very different way, until the point where the weather is now always sunny, warm, and delightful. As always, my deepest thanks and blessings to you and Avadhan."

R.P.

Trauma is not a life sentence

The symptoms of trauma, from the extreme symptoms classified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the milder forms of generalized anxiety and so on mentioned above, can be healed. Trauma, although a fact of life, does not need to be a life sentence.