Somatic Experiencing & Brainspotting

What happens during a session:

During a session clients are given a combination of information and practical exercises. Information about how our nervous system works in overwhelm or trauma is important, as it helps us to understand and recognise how we respond in a crisis or when we are overwhelmed, and empowers us to take appropriate action. To know how and why our body is reacting in a specific way allows us precious time. It makes it easier for us not to react but to step back to see the bigger picture. Practical exercises combined with this information are tailored to helping the nervous system complete the stress cycle, and de-activate the stress response.
The work for the client consists largely of tracking our bodies to enable us to discharge excess survival energy and allow our nervous system and the amygdala (the fear centre) to re-regulate healthily. To begin with we work with general nervous system repair, and when there is some stability we look at individual events or issues where appropriate.

The emphasis is on allowing the unconscious nervous system to regulate, not on recounting a narrative. Although what happened is important, in order to regulate the nervous system we work with the body not the story. It is not even necessary to know what has caused the symptoms to work effectively in reducing them. In trauma work we use the body and nervous system responses as a guide to let us know where in the stress cycle it may be stuck, whatever the cause. Then we take appropriate action through movement and touch, to help the nervous system re-regulate. As it gradually re-regulates, symptoms of dysregulation lessen in intensity or occur less frequently, until they either disappear or become manageable. At the same time, the individual is able to take on more in life and finds their responses to situations and events, other people, friends and family becoming healthy and normal.


What is the aim of nervous system re-regulation?

In Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting we are looking for a reduction in the intensity or strength of symptoms, or in the length of time these episodes last; to see them occur less frequently; and to see a quicker recovery time when we do experience them. We aim to achieve this with as little stress to the system as possible.
We also aim to see the good things in life increasing: being more able to feel good, have good times last longer and experience them more often.
Any of these improvements contribute to an increase in confidence and a greater sense of empowerment. Our inner strength and sense of self, or self-worth, increase. Our ability to manage and recover more quickly in stressful situations also increases. In other words, our systems become more resilient and we have greater ‘bounce-back-ability’.
This means that we can look forward to an increased ability to lead a fuller and more engaged life, and be better able to connect with ourselves and others. Life will continually throw unexpected complications and challenges at us, but we want to be able to ride these difficulties and not become overwhelmed.
It is not uncommon that as clients become more empowered and resilient, many other symptoms disappear, reduce or lose their charge or sense of urgency, and do not need additional focused work.


SE and pain

Joolz Flynn is an experienced practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, combining her bodywork skills with nervous system re-regulation. This is particularly effective where trauma or overwhelming stress has resulted in undiagnosed pain conditions.

Joolz’ approach to pain is two-fold: Firstly, with Somatic Experiencing, to re-regulate the nervous system which may be triggering pain response. Secondly through hands-on bodywork to release adhesions (literally ‘stuck bits’ of muscle and connective tissue) and muscular trigger points which have developed through injury or physical response to stress. Some people may need more nervous system re-regulation, others more bodywork.

There is a direct correlation between physical pain and overwhelming stress, or relatively low-level but ‘unending’ or ‘relentless’ stress. Both can result in tension and constriction which lead to pain. There may be physical tensions which need releasing as well as ‘loops’ in unconscious nervous system processes which lead again, and again, to repeated tensing.

Because of these two aspects of pain, the two-fold approach is crucial for substantial success.


SE and fear, panic or anxiety

Somatic Experiencing is a gentle, body-based, and extremely effective means of addressing anxiety, fear and panic of all kinds. The method’s underlying principle is to allow the unconscious nervous system to adjust its response to shock and unrelenting stress. This is how it can recover from past experiences and is able to manage present experiences in a robust, healthy way.

Joolz Flynn uses her extensive training and experience in SE and Brainspotting to resolve unconscious nervous system responses to both acute and chronic stress. At the same time she teaches her clients how to steer their own nervous system towards robust, healthy management of stress.

Joolz accesses the unconscious brain using verbal cues and eye movement, carefully monitoring the body as it responds to stress, and steering it towards successful nervous / physical resolution of unfinished experiences. Movement also plays a role. The client’s role is to feel what is going on in their bodies during activation, a skill which is learned bit by bit.

At all times Joolz explains clearly what is going on, which allows the client to understand their own body’s responses and learn simple techniques which they can use at any time.

The aim of Somatic Experiencing is to develop a strong, flexible response to life, and re-regulate and repair the nervous system after damage done by past experiences.