My First Session of Somatic Experiencing ®
I remember my first session of SE® very clearly. After initial introductions with my therapist, who, at their request, will be referred to as "T" asked me how I was feeling.
I recall saying that I was feeling a wired sensation down my arms, particularly my left side, and a pull from the top of my head all down the left side of my body. "It felt hard and like an edge" whilst my right side felt much freer. T reflected that was interesting. We talked more about how the chair felt - I was sitting on a high backed office-style chair with wheels. I again reiterated the difference between the left and right side of my body. My face became tense and I both looked and felt uncomfortable. T then changed tack. He started to ask me about a place where I felt really good about myself and my body and somewhere I felt both happy and myself. I told T about a restaurant I love in Piccadilly and about some of my best friends that I go there with. As I talked about it, my face relaxed and I started to smile. My body relaxed and some of the feelings, including chest pain, felt less intense than they had just some minutes before. We talked about other places where I felt happy and a place of safety. I said that I enjoyed coming into work, and we talked through that experience, as I was reaching the entrance to work, and the feeling as I walked down the street towards my place of work. Again, my happiness was evident through my face and body. We talked through two more "happy" places including a place in France I love, and being with another friend who always makes me laugh.
T had told me I could go where ever I liked in the room. That I could even leave the room if I wanted. I decided to go and sit in one of my favourite positions on the floor with my legs crossed, with my back against the wall. Since I had issues about people being too close to me, I gave permission for T to sit across the room from me and T mirrored my body posture. We continued the discussion about being in Piccadilly and all the positive imagery that conjured.
After a short while, T checked in with me about how I was feeling as I sat with my legs crossed on the floor. I reported that I had some sensation in my legs, and buttocks on the floor, but that the rest of me felt 'numb' and cut-off. As I spoke about it, I very suddenly started to tear-up. T noticed straight away and took me back to the place in Piccadilly, and I immediately felt happier again. I was surprised about where this tearful feeling had come from, but did not spend anymore time on wondering about it. The session ended.
I went home feeling quite tired and on the bus tried to reflect upon what happened. I realized that this was going to be completely different to psychotherapy in that I was not going to necessarily know what my sudden sadness had been about during the session. I took my thoughts back to Piccadilly and was asked to write about my places of safety and happiness for 'homework.' This, I did.