Use of Somatic Experiencing Principles as a PTSD Prevention Tool for Children and Teens during the Acute Stress Phase Following an Overwhelming Event

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IntroductionTrauma is not only in the eventFear of our own reactionsThe recipe for traumaThe reason our bodies don't forget: What brain research has taught usThe recipe for resilienceBuilding resilience by building sensory awareness skillsGiving appropriate support to an overwhelmed childSimple steps to build resilienceThe body–brain connectionGetting acquainted with your own sensationsHelping a child or teen focus on internal sensationsCrisis relief with groupsReferences

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... This started from a clinical encounter in the late 1960s and Levine's study of the role of overwhelming stress on the body and link to disease, and the therapy was described in his 1997 book Waking the Tiger [4]. Levine drew from MacLean's triune model of instinctual, emotional and rational aspects of the brain, as well as Damasio's neural circuitry of emotions and LeDoux's emotional brain processing memory and feelings [87]. He proposed that while the neocortex was unable to override the instinctual fight/flight/freeze responses in a traumatic situation, it could override the instinctual response to release the trauma through bodily expressions of release such as trembling [3,4]. ...
... Therapy works with the ANS, which was prepared for active response (fight/flight) in the face of danger but unable to act, to unlock these thwarted movements and bodily memories of stress and experience biological completion [88,89]. In practice, somatic experiencing encourages clients to develop a sense of management of internal somatic states by using imagery and increasing attention to an acceptance of inner sensations [3,4,87]. It also incorporates understanding of the flight/ fight and immobility responses mediated by the vagal system [88,90]. ...
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Currently there are several psychotherapy modalities utilising theory and research from neuroscience in treatment frameworks for mental health and recovery from trauma. In Australia this includes: (i) the Conversational Model of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, a contemporary psychodynamic approach used for treating Borderline Personality Disorder and other trauma-related disorders; (ii) Electroencephalogram Neurofeedback, a brain training therapy which has been used as an adjunct to counselling/psychotherapy in traumatic stress and developmental trauma; and (iii) Somatic Experiencing, an integrative mind-body approach based on body responses to threat and fear, especially thwarted attempts to enact fight or flight in the face of threat. These modalities have a promising but still-limited evidence base. This paper explores the role of different types of evidence to frame a descriptive review of the current evidence base available for clinicians practicing in these three modalities. While large clinical trials can provide evidence of comparative effectiveness, case studies, observational, qualitative and practice-based enquiry can assist in discovering other aspects of therapy important for individual clients and practitioners. Existing frameworks of evidence- and ethics-informed health and clinical decision-making suggest an ethical approach can incorporate new, developing and evidence-building therapies. Recommendations include careful consideration of informed consent for therapy including disclosure of efficacy and safety, and specific to psychotherapies incorporating neuroscience, a need for practitioners to reflectively assess their own knowledge, competence, heuristic approaches and biases.
... Two other pioneers in this recognition of the role of the body in psychological disorders are Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine. Van der Kolk's pioneering work in understanding the psychobiology of stress broke new ground with the concept that "the body keeps the score", or "stores" the effects of past trauma (van der Kolk, 1994), while Levine's somatic experiencing approach works with "completing" unresolved and incomplete physical residues left by a traumatic event (Levine & Kline, 2012). ...
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This first article traces some of the lesser known roots and branches of Yoga and how they weave into modern neuroscience and psychology, melding with integration science. The second article will review in more detail the research evidence for the broad-ranging benefits of Yoga to the body, mind, and spirit, gathered from diverse fields such as epigenetics, immunology, clinical psychotherapy, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis research, aging, and mental health. The third paper will outline the framework the author has developed for Yoga as applied to neuroscience, illustrating with case studies drawn from her clients, students, and postgraduate yoga teacher trainees.
This exploratory study examines the treatment effects of brief (1 to 2 sessions) Somatic Experiencing with 53 adult and child survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. Somatic Experiencing’s early-intervention model, now called Trauma First Aide, was provided 1 month after the tsunami. Survivor assessments were done pretreatment, immediately posttreatment, 3 to 5 days posttreatment, and at the 1-year follow-up. Results indicate that immediately following treatment, 67% of participants had partial to complete improvement in reported symptoms and 95% had complete or partial improvement in observed symptoms. At the 1-year follow-up, 90% of participants had complete or partial improvement in reported symptoms, and 96% had complete or partial improvement in initially observed symptoms. Given the small sample size and lack of an equivalent comparison group, results must be interpreted with caution. Nonetheless, the results suggest that integrative mind–body interventions have promise in disaster treatment.