Somatic Experiencing® Process


The Twelve Elements of Successful Renegotiation

Renegotiation means to integrate your past experiences into the present.

Trying to describe a Somatic Experiencing® session is like trying to describe chocolate ice cream. You will know about chocolate ice cream but did you actually taste it? Still, there are certain ingredients that make up a Somatic Experiencing session and they are explained here.  

Every Somatic Experiencing® session has certain basic elements. These may appear in different sequences, depending on individual needs and conditions—but overall, the following will give you a sense of what a session looks like.

1. Tracking. In renegotiation, you become mindful of your body sensations, images, behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Tracking encourages a heightened state of body awareness, allowing you to become conscious of previously hidden instinctual responses. Tracking can be done alone, but since safety is important, it is best undertaken with a therapist, trusted friend, or family member.

2. Activation. The nervous system, muscles, body, and mind are tensed in preparation for defensive action. The brain releases chemicals to provide the necessary energy.

3. Titration. Moving towards issues slowly and in small, sometimes tiny doses while building up physiological capacity avoids overwhelm. Feelings of complete helplessness, defeat, and overwhelm constitute the psychological experience of the immobility response. These feelings may arise again as part of reexperiencing some aspects of the original event and are carefully monitored —however, you will not actually relive the trauma. As this would not be helpful, overexposure processes are carefully avoided.  

4. Resourcing. Your instinctive resources for successful self-defense, overwhelmed in the original event, become available through the tracking process. During the resourcing phase of renegotiation, your therapist or friend (support is critical here) guides you to reclaim these tools.

5. Pendulating. As you become resourced, you will find a natural rhythm that guides you back and forth between the past (unresourced) defeat and the present (resourced) experience, allowing for the formation of a new experience.

6. Grounding and centering. Trauma disconnects people from their bodies. Grounding and centering reconnects you directly with resources naturally available in your own body.

7. Strength and resilience. Grounding and centering also reconnect you to a sense of your strength and resiliency. With this awareness, you are poised for successful defensive action.

8. Natural aggression. When you are free to recognize and allow your instinctive responses, you know when fighting is an appropriate response to a threat—and can discharge the activated energy by following through.

9. Running. Likewise, you will know instinctively when the right response is to run, and can discharge energy as appropriate by doing so.

10. Uncoupling. Undischarged energy intensifies fear and couples it with immobility. Discharging this energy uncouples fear from immobility, allowing you to move beyond trauma and toward transformation.

11. Orientation. After you emerge from immobility, your therapist/guide will help you reorient yourself to a world that often appears quite different from before.

12. Completion. Completing the cycle discharges the energy that had been fueling the symptoms of trauma. Now your symptoms are free to diminish in strength and frequency, or even to disappear altogether. 

With minor editing this content is from the Somatic Experiencing® Website.