Home > FAQs
Tairseach is the National Association of Somatic Experiencing SE™ Practitioners and Trainees in Ireland, established in 2017.
It provides the only Ireland directory of certified and trainee Somatic Experiencing ™ Practitioners (SEPs).
It was founded in October 2017 and is a voluntary organisation run by its members.
It is affiliated with and abides by the ethos and values of EASE, the European Association of SE™ . It is closely linked to Ireland Somatic Experiencing™ (ISE) established in 2012 and which is a member of EASE as the training organisation for SE™ in Ireland.
Tairseach means ‘threshold’ in the Irish language. It refers to an entrance, an edge, a boundary. Although it is a noun, tairseach subtly implies movement, signifying a connection between two things - it is the space between spaces - a liminal space. It implies the place of unfolding, a quantum of space. In Irish, when a person comes over the tairseach, towards another, they are greeted with the welcome, ‘Sé do bheatha!’ (‘Hello!’ or literally, “it is your life”).
In the context of SE™, as practitioners, we observe this Threshold as the significant ‘between space’ where therapy happens, the moment of ‘just enough’ activation within the individual which leads to change, a learning path from chaos to coherence, a transition from trauma to more aliveness and a renegotiated experience.
Tairseach offers the opportunity for those seeking Somatic Experiencing™ therapy, to find a Practitioner via its directory. It facilitates networking within the SE™ community in Ireland, and further afield. It contributes to the development of SE™ by advertising and organising SE™ continuing professional development opportunities, including local study groups.
Membership of Tairseach is open to SEPs trained with Ireland Somatic Experiencing (ISE) or working with ISE, including SE™ students. Other SEPs will be considered on a case by case basis.
If you are interested in joining, click here.
“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not have to be a life sentence.” (Peter Levine)
The Somatic Experiencing ™ method is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE™ approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
It offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others.
Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
The Somatic Experiencing™ approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms, physical and emotional and helping to address the impact of these on daily life and relationships. Read more by going to FAQ ‘Somatic Experiencing™ - how does it work?’
For more details including video demonstrations and articles, see our Resources page.
The key reason for working with SE ™ need not be an obvious traumatic event but the presence of a symptom or symptoms. Trauma is not in the event but in the individual’s physiological reaction to it, as it is held in the nervous system.
The impact of such experiences can leave traces in the nervous system which can manifest in many ways, including behaviours (postures, gestures), intrusive images, emotional overwhelm, association between certain sights, sounds, smells, etc. and past events. Over time, these can become symptoms (aches and pains, sleep difficulties, digestive trouble, etc) or even syndromes (migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, etc).
If you'd like advice about a specific symptom, please contact your local SE Practitioner.
To understand how SE works, go to FAQ: ‘Somatic Experiencing ™ - How does it work?'
Dr. Levine was inspired to study stress on the animal nervous system, when he realized that animals are constantly under threat of death, yet show no symptoms of trauma. What he discovered was that trauma has to do with the third survival response to perceived life threat, which is freeze. When fight and flight are not options, we freeze and immobilize, like “playing dead.” This makes us less of a target. However, this reaction is time-sensitive, in other words, it needs to run its course, and the massive energy that was prepared for fight or flight gets discharged, through shakes and trembling. If the immobility phase doesn’t complete, then that charge stays trapped, and, from the body’s perspective, it is still under threat. The Somatic Experiencing ™ method works to release this stored energy, and turn off this threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation.
In Somatic Experiencing ™, the traumatic event isn’t what caused the trauma, it is the overwhelmed response to the perceived life threat that is causing an unbalanced nervous system. The aim is to help you access the body memory of the event, not the story. So we don’t discuss what happened if you don’t want to.
Here we introduce the concept of titration – slowly releasing energy. Somatic Experiencing ™ operates in cycles, where you sense your way through the normal oscillations of internal sensation – contraction/expansion, pleasure/pain, warmth/cold – but only at the level that you can handle. This repeated, rhythmic process helps you to develop a greater capacity to handle stress and stay in the present moment, where you belong.
Like other somatic psychology approaches, Somatic Experiencing ™ professes a body first approach to dealing with the problematic (and, oftentimes, physical) symptoms of trauma. This means that therapy isn’t about reclaiming memories or changing our thoughts and beliefs about how we feel, but looking at the sensations that lie underneath our feelings, and uncovering our habitual behaviour patterns to these feelings.
Pendulation is a term used by Dr. Levine to describe the natural oscillation between opposing forces of contraction and expansion. Somatic Experiencing ™ utilises this philosophy to help a client experience a sense of flow.
The primary goal of the SE™ approach is about understanding and working with the unintegrated impact of traumatic events on the nervous system, which impacts our lives at every level. It goes beyond the recall of traumatic events and associated emotions, unlike other therapies. It includes working with all the ways in which human beings hold their experience, recognising that the physiology holds the first experience, and therefore is central to the integration of traumatic events.
When you enter therapy, you’ll start by learning more about your autonomic nervous system and the part it plays in your trauma response. This knowledge helps many people who feel confused about their response during a traumatic event or in the aftermath, and believe they should have acted differently.
From there, your therapist will emphasise how these are normal responses to a life-threatening experience, and will support your awareness of how these experiences are stored as physical symptoms and unfold in our relationships with the people around us.
SE therapists refer to resourcing when talking about your capacity to access your innate strength, resilience, and a sense of peace.
Resourcing is linked to the ability to access a sense of well-being, often linked to pleasant life experiences which can help you reduce the distress connected with the traumatic event. Resourcing can help you stay calm and present as you encounter felt trauma sensations or memories of the event.
Many people expect to tell the entire story when they come to therapy, and usually in the first session. However, whilst the story is centrally important, in a Somatic Expteriencing™, together with your therapist you will begin to work with small elements of your experience in order to ensure that you do not re-experience the devastating overwhelm of the situation.Traumatic experiences are too big, too fast and too much, and leave us overwhelmed. Titration is the gradual process that allows you to come to terms with and integrate each aspect of the event, as you feel ready to do so. It slows down the trauma to allow you to handle it.
In this process, your therapist will support you to recognise and track your response and the bodily sensations the trauma brings up.
This can include noticing breathing changes, posture, e.g. clenched hands, or a change in tone of voice. The therapist will encourage you to notice and report on any sensation you may be experiencing, for example:
Pendulation is the process of moving between the physiological experiences of increased capacity and distress.
The purpose of pendulation is to reduce the excess activation in the system, by supporting you to be more in touch with your capacity and your agency, and less subjected to the residue of the traumatic event.
Pendulation deactivates the distress in your system. This can often be experienced through diverse sensations including for example: crying, shaking, yawning, warmth.
Your therapist might also teach you specific practices to help you process your experiences between therapy sessions.
You can enter your own post code or eircode into the search [link here], and the maximum distance you would be prepared to travel, and this will indicate the Somatic Experiencing ™ Practitioner closest to you.
Alternatively you can search through the Tairseach directory of therapists. [link]
There is also an international directory of SEPs you can consult on the SETI website (Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute), at https://directory.traumahealing.org.
An SE™ session lasts about an hour, with variations depending to the content of each session.
Each SE™ practitioner will set their own fee, dependent partly on where they are located. Some will offer some therapy places at a lower cost for students or people with income difficulties. You will need to check the practitioner’s website or ask them directly.
The number of sessions vary depending on the extent and complexity of the traumatic experience(s) that the person wants to work with: for example, with a one-off minor traffic accident or fall which resulted in little or no ongoing physical injury, a few sessions might be sufficient.
When traumatic experiences have lasted over time, or happened earlier in the life span, this will need a longer intervention. Your therapist and you will have a conversation about this at the beginning and throughout the work.
Like other somatic psychotherapy approaches, SE™ professes a body first methodology to dealing with the problematic (and often physical) symptoms of trauma. This means that therapy isn’t about reclaiming memories or changing our beliefs about how we feel, but we look at the sensations underneath our feelings and uncover our habitual patterns to these feelings.
Cognitive approaches (CBT for example) have become a de facto standard, and advocate the primacy of cognition and behavior in the therapeutic healing process. However recent advances in the neurosciences challenge this as a complete model, particularly when it comes to working with the impact of trauma.
“Trauma impacts much more than just our thoughts and actions. Trauma is far-reaching and systemic—it cuts us to our bones. It can dissolve our sense of identity, diminish our capacity to locate ourselves accurately in time and space, inhibit our tolerance for interpersonal relatedness, disrupt the coherence of our experience, impair our capacity for emotional regulation, and so much more.” (Albert Wong, PhD, in https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-body-knows-the-way-home/202005/why-you-cant-think-your-way-out-trauma)
Some forms of psychotherapy have already and from many years acknowledged the centrality of body process to the therapeutic dialogue. It makes no doubt that ‘talk therapies’ and top-down approaches that focus on congnition and behaviour, will increasingly have to integrate the body in their work.
A number of SEPs members of Tairseach are also qualified psychotherapists, and have been integrating the SE™approach into their work, so that their initial orientation is influenced by SE™ and their way of practicing SE™ is influenced by their initial orientation. They invariably report the mutual enrichment of the two.
WHAT IS A TRAUMATIC EVENT?
A traumatic event is an event or set of circumstances which involves a perceived threat to life (either one’s own or that of another person) or to one’s physical integrity. The experience generally comes with intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Such events may be one-time occurrences or ongoing; all can produce shock and overwhelm in the body. Anyone can experience trauma. Sufferers are normal people, experiencing normal reactions to abnormal situations, situations that feel threatening to them.
The SE™ appraoch has been shown to benefit individuals suffering from the consequences of trauma, such as: