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How SE® Bodywork is Different from Psychotherapy

When working to resolve trauma through bodywork, the focus is on how the physiology is functioning, not on how the mind makes sense of it. How well are the cycles of activation and deactivation moving through? Does the process get stuck anywhere? SE® bodywork does not include any psychoanalysis, or diagnosis of any kind. We might be working an intense physical sensation, or a story of something that happened that was painful for instance. Our goal is to help the body to process the experience, the psyche just sort of comes along for the ride.

This is an important distinction when working deeply in the process of healing, since there is no way to compartmentalize something that’s truly a whole being: you. We are complex, dynamic, marvelous creatures with a body, mind, emotions, and soul, or spirit, etc. Each aspect functioning in harmony with the others, just like our heart does with our bones, and our skin and spleen. The sum of all the different parts comprising a complete whole.

Ongoing body sensations from unresolved trauma or incomplete stress responses, can be immensely distressing to the mind. By relieving the felt sense of  (too many to list then all, but here are a few: racing heart, anxiety, chronic constipation, headaches, muscle/body pain) the mind can  experience more ease and comfort, because those sensations are meant to signal alarm.

Sometimes the distress in the body can be coming from the psyche being stuck in patterns of thinking that are distress-producing. In that case it can be very helpful to have a mental health practitioner to work as a team with your SE® bodywork practitioner. Working with trauma can be tricky, and often requires a team of helpers.

The purpose of the psyche (mind) is to make meaning. We need this function to help us understand complex concepts all around us, all day long. In the background, at every moment, the body (soma) is giving signals via the ‘felt sense’ about what’s going on internally and externally. As we work with the felt sense, the mind will want to give it meaning. This is unavoidable, and we neither encourage or discourage it – just accept it as another part of the experience of the process.