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Consent for
Somatic Experiencing® (SE)
Touch-Based Therapy

In addition to the initial informed consent discussed and agreed to that allowed us to commence therapy, an additional consent document is provided here to address the possibility of using limited physical touch as part of a therapeutic process.


As a Somatic Experiencing practitioner, I have a belief in the body’s natural ability to heal and we will work together with listening to your body’s wisdom. Questions about what you are feeling in your body, as well as about your thoughts and emotions are an important part of this work.
 

We are both engaged in this process and while I use my training, skill and intuition, I also encourage your ideas and feedback at all times. As we go along, you will be teaching me about how I can best support you with therapeutic touch by saying things like:
 

“That really helped me.”
“I don’t like that experiment, can we do this one instead or can we change it a bit?”
“That thing we did 2 weeks ago would really be helpful to me now.”
 

The Somatic Experiencing touch is part of my work. It is a non-sexual touch that usually involves using a massage table and sometimes remaining in a chair. I will use my hands to listen to what is going on in your body, just as I do with my ears or eyes when we talk. The purpose of touch is to help resolve traumatic patterns in the body and nervous system. I am not trained to work on active injuries nor treat illnesses.
 

At first, I will inform you of what we are going to do and why, and ensure that you feel safe. I will also ask your permission (as we have discussed, I believe in on-going consent): you have the right to refuse to be touched without needing to explain, and without any concern of negative consequences. It is also your responsibility to tell me if you are uncomfortable with any parts of our work.


SE and touch can result in a number of benefits to you, such as relief of traumatic stress symptoms, increased resiliency, and resourcefulness. Like any other approach, it may also evoke emotions, thoughts, physical reactions or memories that may be upsetting. Such reactions are not uncommon, sharing them with me, if they arise, may be helpful for our work. Between sessions, if you feel overwhelmed by thoughts, emotions or body sensations, please feel free to contact me. I will reply as soon as possible.


More about SE and employ of touch

  • SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people "renegotiate" and recover rather than re-living or re-enacting trauma.

  • SE's guidance of the bodily "felt sense" allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.

  • SE “titrates” experience (breaks down into small, incremental steps), rather than evoking catharsis - which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.

  • SE may employ touch in support of the process. Appropriate touch can often be useful, especially under the following circumstances:

    • In working with early shock trauma that has a primarily physical origin (particularly when this occurs in the child/infant’s pre-verbal development phase). This is especially true when symptoms are manifesting as primarily somatic complaints.

    • In working with developmental disturbances that have a primarily physical origin, such as extended hospitalizations, particularly if the symptoms are manifesting somatically.

    • When it is helpful to learn to differentiate between appropriate, caring touch, and inappropriate, harmful touch.

    • When touch helps people integrate their change process more fully through all layers of self.

    • When touch helps people remain resourceful in managing their activation levels.

    • When the use of verbal language is limited, either due to age, disability or language barriers.

    • Language is sometimes inadequate to access very deep shock states. In order for deep reorganization to take place, the tissue states and physical patterns associated with the shock states need to be addressed directly, and the most efficient way to do so is often through touch.

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