Following a fall or motor vehicle accident, do you suffer from:
increased levels of anger and frustration
avoidance of people, places, things associated with or that remind you of the event
nightmares, fear, or flashbacks of the event?
Have you been told there is no medical evidence for a cause for your symptoms?
Do you feel like you’re going crazy? that your life will never be the same? that you are not the same since the incident?
Have you been in a motor vehicle accident or had a fall up to 18 months before the onset of your symptoms?
You may be experiencing the traumatic impact of your accident or fall on your nervous system. Even a seemingly minor incident can result in symptoms, some of which don’t appear until up to 18 months following the accident and can last for years if not resolved. Somatic Experiencing (SE) can change that.
Working with awareness of the body and imaginal corrective experience, we facilitate completion of the threat response by inserting time for the body to do now what it didn’t have time to do then. For example, if you didn’t have time to see another vehicle that hit yours, or if you slipped and fell because of a patch of ice you didn’t see, we will go back to that time, very slowly re-experience the incident, freeze frame what was happening and allow your body to locate the threat. This is usually experienced as turning the head, sometimes the entire body, to look and see, now that you know what happened, what you didn’t see then. Because the memories and imagery are so vivid, the brain believes you are re-experiencing the event, and when you are able to do now what you didn’t have time to do then, the threat response is completed, the nervous system releases the “fight or flight” energy that was mobilized in response to your accident, but didn’t get a chance to move through to completion, and your symptoms resolve.
Ruptured energetic boundaries are repaired. Notice if you find yourself feeling safer as you focus your awareness on the side of your body away from the point of impact. You may then find you feel very unsafe or activated as you notice the side of your body on which the impact took place, even if you were in a vehicle and your body wasn’t actually harmed. This is a boundary rupture which is also repaired through awareness, so that your sense of your body being safe in the world returns.
The entire incident will be revisited in this way, very slowly and carefully, and not necessarily in chronological order, utilizing resources, so that by the time we process the actual impact, there is much less activation and you are not retraumatized. SE is a gentle, powerful treatment and most clients find that in less than six months their symptoms greatly decrease if not completely resolve. If you have multiple traumas or a history of childhood trauma, treatment may be relatively longer, though you may experience a significant decrease in certain symptoms within six months.
As a result of doing this work you will learn to trust your innate, intuitive sense of what is right for you. You will find your beliefs about yourself in the world changing and that you have greater resilience of body, mind and spirit, so you will be less susceptible to becoming trapped in a traumatic response in the future.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to live the way you’re living. There is help and it doesn’t require years of therapy to achieve relief. In fact, some of you may be able to work through your symptoms yourselves. Diane Poole Heller, Ph.D., who I have trained with, describes her own experience in a serious head-on collision in her book, Crash Course. Following her accident, In her search for help, she eventually met Peter Levine, and has been working with him, teaching SE all over the world. In her book Dr. Heller guides you through information, exercises to help you release the survival energy trapped in your nervous system, resiliency-building techniques and skills to deal with future traumas.
If you are able to do this work on your own, using Crash Course as a guide, that’s wonderful. If, like many people, you feel the support of an experienced therapist can be helpful, there is no shame in seeking assistance. The shame would be to continue to suffer unnecessarily.