HEALING COMPLEX TRAUMA THROUGH SOMATIC EXPERIENCING®
Somatic Experiencing® is a trauma therapy that works directly with the body’s involuntary responses, otherwise known as trauma responses, resulting from past trauma or stress. This approach differs from typical talk therapy as the client’s body typically leads the session. For example, the body will reveal where it got stuck during the trauma and work through that directly during a session.
Suzanne Cooper is a Licensed Professional Counselor as well as a Licensed Addiction Counselor. She also blends somatic therapy into her sessions as she is qualified at the Intermediate level of the Somatic Experiencing® training program.
Suzanne has been a professional counselor for five years but has always had a heart for helping people. By weaving the technique of somatic therapy into her counseling practice, she helps her clients break ingrained self-protective behavior patterns that no longer work for them or their situation. Suzanne helps her clients increase their internal coping skills to support them to become the person they want to be.
Suzanne frequently works with clients who have complex trauma. Although “trauma” is somewhat of a buzzword in the mental health community, many people may think of it immediately as an intense situation or prolonged abuse. Trauma can absolutely be those things; however, Suzanne also sees trauma as anything that’s happened to you that you didn’t want to happen to you. Trauma can be anything outside of your control – like someone telling a secret, a divorce, substance abuse, death, etc. All traumatic situations are essential to work through and move towards healing.
Frequently, before coming to therapy, Suzanne’s clients recognize themselves consistently falling into the same “protective” behavior patterns again and again, and then feeling defeated and disheartened when they get the same negative outcome and consequences time after time.
These patterns could form by not having the needs met that they’ve been trying to meet with said behavior. These patterns could look like substance abuse, codependent behavior, relationship patterns that involve domestic violence, or even different internal defense mechanisms – like avoidance or self-sabotage.
These habits and actions are hard to break because those behaviors are used as a personal survival technique, and it becomes difficult to do anything different.
In a situation, if you find yourself getting angry or irritated, feel the desire to leave a social setting, or get overwhelmed – that’s the nervous system having an involuntary trauma response. Any escalation we experience, including anxiety, is actually a fight or flight response for the nervous system. It can be a kind of subconscious action that happens, and you don’t know or understand where it came from or why. That is an unconscious somatic response. This is where Suzanne Cooper, her counseling, and somatic therapy can help.
Suzanne thoroughly understands that it can be emotionally painful to work through trauma because the body genuinely feels like it won’t survive if it doesn’t do what it’s always done. But with her practice of counseling and somatic therapy, there is hope to move forward into healing. Suzanne wants to help her clients break through this unproductive emotional cycle to process their trauma and improve their lives.
A somatic therapy session may start with something like, ‘What does that feel like in your body?” Or, “Where do you feel that in your body?” These self-reflective questions allow the body to begin to process through traumas that have been stored in the nervous system.
Somatic therapy is not talking about a single trauma over and over again. You don’t have to rehash and discuss the trauma repeatedly – that’s not necessarily helpful. However, you will go in-depth into the story by slowing down to go through the situation and find trauma pockets throughout the whole experience. You’ll allow the body to process through each moment of escalation. The entire goal of somatic therapy is to allow the nervous system to become regulated enough so you can weave in between without getting stuck on either side where trauma responses live. You’ll go piece by piece, get connected with your body, and have your body be part of the decision-making process rather than a silent dictator.
Through the practice of somatic therapy, you can become more embodied in the ability to notice what’s going on with your body and emotions. By working through your trauma, you can improve your cognition to help get your needs met.
In her counseling practice, Suzanne wants to make her clients feel safe, seen, and heard. She also supports and helps her clients learn new coping skills to self-regulate and develop a language around what is going on inside themselves.
Suzanne is currently accepting new clients at South Platte Counseling. She wants to help you if you struggle to find your purpose, need help with substance abuse issues, or codependent behavior.