natural disasters

Somatic Experiencing in Disaster Response

by The SETI Staff on June 9, 2015

Responding to disasters is not for everyone. But SE™ practitioners have a particularly effective toolkit for coping with the aftermath of the unthinkable. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a new short training module for those interested in serving people impacted by disasters. First, a word about how this fits into our mission here at the SE Training Institute.

Our Vision: We envision a world thriving beyond trauma, a world at peace.

Our Mission: Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. The SE Trauma Institute is dedicated to resolving trauma worldwide by providing state-of-the-art professional training and public education in Somatic Experiencing® (SE). SE is a powerful psychobiological method for addressing physical and emotional trauma, PTSD, overwhelm, and stress related conditions. Through our membership association we support the self-organization of a broad international network of passionate, skillful SE practitioners who serve individuals in need and communities in crisis around the globe.

As healing professionals, every time we hear of a new disaster that has rocked our world— from natural catastrophes to human-caused atrocities— we feel a calling to respond. See below for stories from SEPs who have served on the frontlines of disaster response. While our institute is dedicated to training and education, there are those among us who are driven to be first-responders; to go, themselves, right into the heart of the event. If that feels familiar, this new course might be for you:

Foundations of Disaster Response for SE Providers

Our new two-day class is an effort of SE practitioners who are drawn to disaster relief, as they seek to bring their lives’ work together. Notably, the course’s co-creator and instructor Lisa La Due, LCSW, SEP has responded to many disasters including the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the May 12 Sichuan (China) earthquake, and the High Park (Colorado) fire. Her co-creator for the course— Alé Duarte, SEP— has also worked around the globe: see his blog entry, linked below, about working with children after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Lisa, Alé, and others of us here at SETI have been seeking a way, within our mission of education and training, to address the safety concerns, cultural challenges, language barriers, competing agendas, and political pitfalls inherent in disaster response. This course is the result, a collaboration to introduce SE providers to the intensely challenging— and rewarding— world of disaster response. Is this a field you truly wish to pursue? This course will help you answer that question.

If you’re an SEP— or anyone who has completed SE trainings to date— we hope you’ll consider joining us for one of Lisa’s upcoming disaster-response classes. Please learn more from our flyer (click image below: PDF format) or register today.

New class for healing professionalsThis two-day course will be offered during 2015 in:

San Rafael, CA

Boulder, CO

New York City, NY

Austin, TX


SEPs Have Been There: Disaster-Response Stories from our Blog

  • DRCCONGO (2008) Twig Wheeler ventured to what the UN called “the worst place in the world for women and children” questioning what on earth he could say or do to help these people. But what he discovered was engagement with the ideas behind SE— and gratitude. Joelle Depeyrot also brought SE to the DRC, reporting back on the people she encountered: “amazing souls and true survivors.”
  • aftermathHAITI (2010-2012) Working in the rubble of the Haiti earthquake, Dennis Moorman discovered that imagination and spirituality were rich resources for healing after a disaster. His colleague Sister Efu Nyaki also shared her perspective on the work, which engaged 30 local volunteers in healing post-disaster trauma.
  • tsunamiJAPAN (2011) Our blog’s very first entry was by one of the collaborators behind our new disaster response class. Alé Duarte wrote in July of 2011 about his work with children in the aftermath of the devastating the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As he put it: “The more I work with kids, the more I learn that they are primarily somatic rather than cognitive … they have a remarkable ability to self-regulate.”
  • school shootingsUNITED STATES (2012) School and temple shootings in the second half of 2012 were hardly the first or last examples of senseless violence that shatters our sense of safety. Joshua Sylvae created a 5-minute video to offer survivors and healers a safe place of healing after such violent incidents.
  • RwandaRWANDA (2012-13) Jonathan Nattel’s cross-cultural experience with trauma was put to the test amid genocide survivors in the heart of Africa. Together, in response to their massive trauma vortex, they created a collective “healing vortex.” Suzanne Levy shared videos and a seven-part series from Rwanda where SE and Suzanne’s breath-based movement program helped to engender a sense of hope.

As you can see, disaster response is a field that benefits immensely from SE. We hope these new classes will serve as a resource for those who hear the calling of the healing first-responder.


Top photo courtesy Dennis Moorman

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