Somatic Experiencing & Polyvagal Therapy

Learn the Skills and Tools to Feel More Grounded and Secure, Start Moving Forward Again, and Achieve Whatever It Is You Desire

If you’re struggling with anxiety, stress, or depression, or feel trapped in an unhealthy, toxic relationship or narcissistic abuse, there’s a good chance that the difficulties you’re experiencing are related (at least in part) to defense mechanisms you’ve developed in the past to protect yourself from some sort of trauma.

In my work as a trauma therapist, clients often seek my professional help with anxiety, depression, or relationship issues, only to uncover the traumatic roots of these issues during the course of our work together.

Of course, we’re all unique individuals …

None of us have the exact same problems, let alone the same feelings, reactions, or issues underlying them. And trauma is a very subjective experience. None of us experience and react to traumatic experiences in precisely the same way.

This is why I draw on a wide variety of therapeutic orientations and techniques when helping clients heal past wounds that have become trapped in their nervous systems.

And two of the trauma treatment techniques I’ve found to be most helpful in my work over the past two decades are Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy.

What Is Somatic Experiencing?

Somatic Experiencing is an approach to psychotherapy that helps people relieve and resolve the symptoms of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other trauma-related issues (anxiety, stress, depression, relationship difficulties, etc.) by focusing on a client’s physical perceptions and body sensations (somatic experiences) rather than re-experiencing the traumatic events themselves.

Somatic Experiencing was first introduced in Dr. Peter Levine’s 1997 book Waking the Tiger, in which he discusses at length how wild animals deal with and recover from life-threatening situations and how “the key to healing traumatic symptoms in humans lies in our being able to mirror [this] fluid adaption of wild animals.”

Somatic Experiencing works from the basis that our autonomic nervous system (ANS) has an inherent capacity to self-regulate that is undermined by traumatic experiences, and that this dysregulation of the ANS can be restored by focusing on internal sensations rather than on cognitive or emotional experiences.

In other words, unlike other trauma treatment techniques, Somatic Experiencing approaches charged memories indirectly and very gradually through the release of the physical tension that remains in the body after a traumatic experience, as opposed to the direct and intense re-experiencing of traumatic memories themselves.

Somatic Experiencing also draws on the Polyvagal Theory of human emotion that was developed by Stephen Porges.

What Is Polyvagal Therapy?

Polyvagal Therapy is an evidence-based approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the intricate connection between our autonomic nervous system and our relationships with others and ourselves.

By recognizing and understanding the role your vagus nerves plays in mediating your heart rate, blood pressure, and responding to trauma and stress, you can learn to self-regulate, regain control over your physiological responses, and reclaim a sense of safety, connection, and resilience.

Are Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy Right for You?

I’ve seen first hand how powerful and effective Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy can be in helping clients work through and resolve both single-incident and long-term, developmental trauma, as well as other issues, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship issues.

This isn’t to say Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy are right for everyone, and I often use them in conjunction with other counseling and psychotherapy techniques.

However, if you’ve been in therapy before and haven’t experienced the results you hoped for and you’re ready and willing to try something a little different, then Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy may be just what you need to learn the skills and tools to feel more grounded and secure, start moving forward again, and achieve whatever it is you desire.

I encourage you to contact me today, schedule an initial consultation, ask any questions you have, and learn more about how Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Therapy can help you create the relationships and life you truly love.

Schedule a Consultation   Book a Session, Now!

Sherry Gaba, LCSW – Somatic Healing, Somatic Experiencing Therapy, Somatic Trauma Treatment, and Somatic Therapy in Westlake Village, California