Use of Somatic Experiencing Principles as a PTSD Prevention Tool for Children and Teens during the Acute Stress Phase Following an Overwhelming Event

  • Levine P
  • Kline M
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Abstract

Somatic experiencing (SE) is a method currently used successfully in both the prevention and healing of trauma. This chapter will focus on a brief introduction to the theory of SE. The thrust will be on the practical application of its principles through skill-building. Ideally, professionals will be guided to bring children (and their parents) gently out of shock during the acute phase (first 30 days) following a traumatic episode in order to prevent secondary symptoms from developing. Information will include working with individuals as well as with groups of children in a crisis setting. Although the emphasis is on prevention, this approach can help build a preliminary capacity to heal PTSD symptoms as well. The premise of SE is that trauma is a fact of life; but so is resilience. Trauma can result from events that are clearly extraordinary, such as violence and molestation, but it can also result from everyday, "ordinary" events. In fact, common occurrences such as accidents, falls, invasive medical procedures, and divorce can cause children to withdraw, lose confidence or develop anxiety and phobias. Traumatized children may also display behavioral problems, including aggression, hyperactivity, and, as they grow older, addictions of various sorts and dysfunctional relationships. Despite a recent interest in trauma treatments, precious little has been written regarding the common causes or the prevention and the non-drug treatment of trauma. Focus instead has been on the diagnosis and the medication of its various symptoms. Children are frequently exposed to potentially traumatic events. It is possible to minimize the effects of the ordinary situations mentioned above, as well as those from extraordinary events such as natural and manmade disasters, including violence, war, terrorism, and molestation, with a basic understanding of how trauma affects a youngster's equilibrium and how to assist him or her in the early stages to return the nervous system to homeostasis and balance. But in order to do the most good for the children, it is necessary to recognize the underlying roots of trauma, how the trauma response is held in the body as implicit memory, and how it disturbs the child's self-regulatory capacities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved). (chapter)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Crisis relief with groups
  • Fear of our own reactions
  • Getting acquainted with your own sensations
  • Giving appropriate support to an overwhelmed child
  • Helping a child or teen focus on internal sensations
  • Simple steps to build resilience
  • The body-brain connection
  • The recipe for resilience
  • The recipe for trauma
  • Trauma is not only in the event

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Authors

  • Peter Levine

  • Maggie Kline

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