TU107: What is Somatic Experiencing With Guest Abi Blakeslee

by | Oct 30, 2019 | Brain Science, Episodes, Neuroscience, Personal Growth, Therapy, Trauma

Show Notes

Trauma is not a life sentence. We are rapidly learning what works to reverse the effects of stored injuries and today we will explore one treatment version of that, called Somatic Experiencing. 

First a shout out to a listener who connected us to our guest today, Ali Capurro – thank you! And to everyone else please note that we love these kinds of connections are always open to hear from you on who you think would deepen this conversation of earning security.

In This Episode of Therapist Uncensored,

co-host Sue Marriott explores Somatic Experiencing with Dr Abi Blakeslee. This interactive deep-dive takes you into the Somatic Experiencing process and provides hope and confirmation that healing trauma is possible through integrated treatment of the brain, the body, and the mind!

The Foundations of Somatic Experiencing (SE)

  • Founded by Dr Peter Levine – author of best-selling books “Waking the
  • Tiger- Healing Trauma”, and “In an Unspoken Voice”
  • SE is based on the study of how animals in the wild process and recover from stress and trauma.
  • Focuses on working directly with the nervous system to help people reorganize the non-conscious survival adaptations developed by the sub-cortical or lower brain

Definition of Somatic Experiencing

  • the experience of body in the present moment.

What SE Looks Like in Practice

  • Present-centered because the healing happens in the here-and-now.
  • It’s a process of following what is is happening in the body and taking a pause from the trauma content to down-regulate the amygdala to a state of safety before moving forward.

“The trauma’s not in the event. It’s in the nervous system.”

The Nervous System

Getting “Unstuck” – Healing Trauma Through Body Awareness

  • Pendulation – Peter Levine defines that as the expansion of contraction of all things moving between expanded States and contracted States.
  • Orienting Exercise

The Biological Model of the Threat Response Cycle

  • Wild Animals Versus Humans During Threat
  • Cycle:
  •  Orient – aware of something in environment
  • Defensive Orienting – sense threat
  • Moving Into Social Interaction –
  • Moving Into Fight and Flight – these are active defense responses
  • Increased sympathetic arousal, burst of movements,
  • Moving Into Freeze – passive defense response
  • Heart rate goes into a slow state like for hibernation. Digestion slows down, hello heart rate variability circulation. There’s nothing pumping to the arms and the legs, so everything shifts into this near death state
  • Back to Exploratory Orienting

Working With the Nervous System

  • Tracking Sensation – describing sensations happening in the body as they are happening
  • Noticing Movement Patterns – acknowledging the shifts that occur
  • Completion of Defensive Responses – allowing the body to carry out the response desired (runnint, punching, kicking, etc) but VERY SLOWLY
  • Sympathetic Discharge When Coming Out of Freeze or Down From High Sympathetic Charge
  • Impala and the Baboon Video
  • Grounding Exercise

Neuroception vs Interoception

  • Neuroception is the lower brain assessment of safety/threat in the environment.
  • Interoception is the awareness of one’s own internal states and can be learned over time.

Who is Dr Abi Blakeslee:

Dr. Abi Blakeslee is faculty at the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute and Foundation for Human Enrichment. She is additionally Dr. Peter Levine’s legacy faculty at Ergos Institute for Somatic Education. Dr. Blakeslee holds a Ph.D. in Clinical and Somatic Psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her dissertation, with a committee that included Dr. Daniel Siegel, generated original research on the role of implicit memory in healing trauma. Dr. Blakeslee integrates SE with clinical research, secondary trauma interventions, and the psychobiological principles of attachment and shock trauma. She treats individuals, couples, children and families in her clinical practice. Dr. Blakeslee teaches and consults worldwide. She lives in Bozeman, MT with her husband and enjoys the snow, mountains, and rivers with her three young children.



Transcript and .MP3 of Orienting and Grounding Exercises

What is Somatic Experiencing? 

Secondary Trauma in the Workplace: Tools for Awareness, Self-Care, and Organizational Response in Montana By Dr Abi Blakeslee

Toddler Trauma: Somatic Experiencing, Attachment, and the Neurophysiology of Dyadic Completion by Joseph P Riordan SEP, MAPS; Abi Blakeslee SEP, CMT, MFT, Ph.D, Peter A Levine Ph.D.

More Information About SE Founder Dr. Peter Levine



For Professional Training in SE: http://www.traumahealing.org

Who doesn’t love special offers?

Our course is now available for a deeply discounted early release price! While this course is aimed toward clinicians (CE’s available!), all who are highly interested in deepening the security in yourselves and your relationships are welcome to participate. Price increases on October 22, 2019 when it is released to the wider public.


We’re on Patreon! 

Become a Super Neuronerd, a Gold Neuronerd or an Out and Proud PLATINUM NEURONERD today! 🙂 

Join our exclusive community of Therapist Uncensored Neuronerds for just $5 a month!

 Gain access to private community and exclusive content. 

Help us create a ripple of security by sharing the science of relationships around the globe!

NEURONERDS UNITE! Click here to sign up.


Last thing, we talk about a lot of deep stuff and people can begin to come alive and feel things. We can’t take you on as a client but we DO encourage you to get help if you are interested in examining your life or exploring pain in your past. Face to face local therapy recommended where you can, however many people cannot access private individual therapy for any number of reasons, so we found a service that offers online therapy in many countries and many languages that is affordable. Please use our link and you’ll get to try it for free. Let us know your experience of it no matter what but so far we’ve heard only good things – try it out!!!







Recent Episodes

Regulation Basics: Protection or Connection Neural Pathways – Which System are You Running Right Now? (166)

Regulation Basics: Protection or Connection Neural Pathways – Which System are You Running Right Now? (166)

Everyone is familiar with reacting “in the heat of the moment,” but do we really understand what that means? In this episode, Sue Marriott and Ann Kelley unravel the mystery behind our nervous systems auto-pilot settings. They simplify otherwise complex ideas by breaking in to 2 main points.   Becoming aware whether you are in the Protection versus Connection pathways in our nervous system helps us manage them. How does our story affect how we react and deal with conflict, and how can we mitigate it? Tune in for this insightful and eye-opening discussion on our internal working models when interacting with others. More at www.therapistuncensored.com/episodes

read more
Managing Intense Feelings for Kids and Grownups with Lindsey Kealey (165)

Managing Intense Feelings for Kids and Grownups with Lindsey Kealey (165)

Learn the 3 C’s of connection and social emotional learning.
Co-host Dr. Ann Kelley and child specialist, Lindsey Kealey dive into strategies for teaching kids how to regulate their emotions and promote positive connection with others. Linsey Kealey has developed a trauma-based, neuroscience-informed program that uses social emotional learning and problem-solving strategies to help all of us make positive decisions and thrive in our relationships. She utilizes the Three C’s method, connect, calm and collaborate, to help transform the way we interact with ourselves and others. They discuss the three C method of connection to help cultivate healthy relationships and positive development in our children. MORE www.therapistuncensored.com/episodes

read more

What else do you want to learn today?

Get Your Modern Attachment-Regulation Spectrum (MARS)Bundle

3 videos, 3 handouts, and 7 podcast episodes to get you started on your path toward secure relating.

Success! Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription and access your starter pack.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This