Addiction, Treatment and Recovery
Women's Symposium Will Feature Dr. Peter Levine
Tags: Dr. Peter A. Levine Somatic Experiencing trauma western psychology
Dr. Peter A. Levine is a featured speaker for the Betty Ford Center Women’s Symposium, scheduled March 21 at UCLA in Los Angeles. His topic during the day-long event will be: “In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.”
Dr. Levine received his Ph.D. in medical biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley and also holds a doctorate in psychology from International University. He has worked in the field of stress and trauma for over 40 years and is the developer of SE (Somatic Experiencing.)
We recently asked a few questions about his specialty:
Q: What are some resiliency factors that you’ve experienced in your work with trauma survivors?
A: While it is generally known that resilient people are less susceptible to traumatization, I have found that – for all of us – the most powerful aspects of resilience can be contacted through our embodied instincts, reflexes and behaviors. This is especially true of those factors associated with defense and self-protection. The therapeutic focus of SE is to activate, engage and support these innate capacities so as to promote the individual’s rebound (resilience) in the face of threat and loss.
Q: In Western Culture conditioning, there seems to be a focus on “talk therapy” and the mind and intellect. How do you help people to focus on the intelligence of the body and its connection to soul?
A: It is, of course, true that much of western psychology is based on talk and mental processing. However, the effects of trauma are deeply embedded in our bodies. We stiffen, we constrict, we collapse; all in the face of trauma. These are all things that the body does. So in order to heal trauma, the body has to have new direct experiences of agency and empowerment that contradict those of constriction and helplessness. This healing involves assisting the survivor to focus on bodily sensations so as to engage these changes.
Q: What led you to develop Somatic Experiencing in working with survivors?
A: I began to develop this method in the late 1960s and early 70s after a serendipitous encounter with one of the clients in my practice – a practice focused on stress reduction and body awareness exercises. I came to realize that many people’s dysfunctional symptoms could be traced back to earlier stressful and traumatic experiences. I studied this phenomenon as would a researcher examining the artifacts of an archeological dig; gradually learning to excavate the body signals that told the stories of their traumatic encounters or prolonged experiences of stress. I recognized the value of a slow, patient and observant attitude that respected the emerging capacities of these individuals. I learned how to support and promote the innate defensive responses that had been overwhelmed at the time of their trauma. This approach with my clients guided me into the development of Somatic Experiencing®.
Dr. Levine’s website contains more detailed information on his field of expertise as well as a calendar of speaking engagements.
Registration for the Women’s Symposium is $150 on or before March 11, 2013 or $165 after March 11, 2013.
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