Meet the 2022 Peter A. Levine Professional Research Award Winners

by | Oct 20, 2022 | ARTICLES, RESEARCH

We Are All in This Together: Coping with Stress During Uncertain Times through Somatic Experiencing”

In October 2022, Dilara Öze and Bilge Nuran Aydoğdu were awarded one of two Peter A. Levine Research Awards for their study of a SE based group therapy model that found possible effectiveness in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thank you to Dilara and Bilge for building the evidence base for SE!



The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all countries and induced excessive stress and anxiety among many who are dealing with this invisible danger. Stress and anxiety originate from a threat, and chronic exposure to stressors results in feeling overwhelmed. When the coping strategies are not effective in a certain situation, the person might demonstrate conditioned reactions like the fight, flight, or freeze. This study aims to increase the resiliency factors through a SE-based group counseling process.


Two groups consisting of 9 individuals each – an intervention and control group – attended a group process for 8 weeks. In addition to these groups, a waitlist control group was formed consisting of 31 people. In addition to pre-and-post individual interviews, The COPE Revised: Proposing a 5-Factor Model of Coping Strategies and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale were administered to both groups.


Qualitative content analysis of the interviews found five themes emerged: hope, universality, cohesiveness, insight, and interpersonal output (new behavior).Group process decreased the anxiety and depression level which was assessed through The COPE Revised: Proposing a 5-Factor Model of Coping Strategies, F(1, 38) = 9.13, p < .05, ηp 2 = .19, which indicates a large effect size.


This study indicates the possible effectiveness for an SE based group therapy model for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Qualitative data indicated increased coping skills, interpersonal development and presence of multiple curative factors identified by Yalom’s model of group therapy.


Dilara Özel is a PhD candidate and research assistant in the Guidance and Psychological Counseling program at Middle East Technical University. She is also an alumnus of the Faculty of Education Bachelor’s Program at Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. She was a researcher at projects funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Program of the European Union (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action), TUBİTAK, and COST Action. She was a visiting fellow at the MiReKoç (Migration Research Center at Koç University) team for the Spring 2021 period. She received a national scholarship (TUBİTAK 2214-A) and work with Prof. Dr. Aileen Edele at the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM), Germany during the Fall Semester of 2022. She is also a SEP student. She took training on Experiential Play Therapy, IMAGO Couples Therapy, and Adlerian Approach from various scholars. She is developing a peace education program for refugee-receiving schools in Turkey.

Bilge Nuran Aydoğdu completed her bachelor's degree in guidance and psychological counseling at Boğaziçi University. She completed her master’s degree at Marmara University with her thesis title of “Psychological Problems and Needs of Deaf Students during Adolescence: A Phenomenological Study”. She is a PhD student in Guidance and Psychological Counseling at Marmara University, as well as a research assistant in the same department at Balıkesir University. Her dissertation focuses on deaf identity development from an interpretive phenomenology perspective. She attended the Disability Studies for fall semester in 2020 organized by Boğaziçi University, Research Worldwide İstanbul and Lund University. She has received the 2021 Peter Levine Research Award as part of the SE Turkey Team on their project about the effectiveness of SE on stress and anxiety level during the pandemic. She has attended several workshops and trainings about trauma, disability, and diversity. Her work focuses on psychological counseling services for the deaf using Turkish Sign Language.