SEI Connections Origins Story

by | Jan 29, 2024 | POINT OF VIEW

Origin Story

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of what is now Somatic Experiencing® International, we are grateful for the groundbreaking innovations and global impact this organization has made over the past three decades.

It all started in the early 1970s when Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., began studying how trauma, as defined by Peter, affects the body and mind. Motivated by his own traumatic experiences and observations of animals recovering in the wild, Dr. Levine uncovered that talk therapy alone often wasn't enough to heal trauma locked in the nervous system. This revelation led him on a journey across multiple disciplines to understand better the physiological imprint trauma leaves behind.

Through extensive research and work with survivors, Dr. Levine developed Somatic Experiencing® (SE™)—a revolutionary approach centering on the body's innate ability to heal itself. This method resolves trauma by gently addressing suppressed arousal states rather than only discussing events.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Levine began teaching SE™ to therapists through his private practice and saw astonishing, positive outcomes in treating PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more. To spread these transformative results, he founded a nonprofit organization, Foundation for Human Enrichment, which would later become what we now call Somatic Experiencing International, in the 1990s dedicated to SE™ training and trauma therapy. Dr. Levine knew that SE™ should be available to as many people as possible, so he opened the training to more than just mental health practitioners. He saw SE™ as a supplement to a practitioner’s other work rather than a standalone practice.

As interest rapidly grew, SEI began coordinating global education, certificates, and promotion of SE. Today, SEI and its partners have trained a network of more than 50,000 practitioners across more than 45 countries. Ongoing research proves SE's effectiveness in healing trauma in diverse communities.

This 30-year journey would not have been possible without dedicated forerunners like Dr. Levine and the remarkable SE™ community propelling this healing mission daily. As we honor this milestone, we honor the past and look ahead to the future.

SEI remains committed to making trauma therapy accessible for all. We envision a world where surviving trauma can be transformed into an opportunity for growth and resilience. Through innovation, research, and compassion, we can rewrite the narrative around trauma and create lasting, positive change. Further, SE™ provides tools to change how people live in the world and to increase capacity to navigate daily and ongoing stressors.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of SEI, we express gratitude for Dr. Levine's visionary outlook and contributions. His work has revolutionized the understanding and treatment of trauma and how to live a more regulated life even when stress and trauma keep arising, leaving an enduring impact.

Let us look ahead to the promising future for continuing these advances. We can further empower individuals and communities in the coming years to facilitate healing and resilience. SE™ can transform how we see the world and each other; through an SE™ lens, we can see each other through a compassionate nervous system lens and work together toward healing, even when we disagree.

We invite you to join us in this celebration space—embracing the present and envisioning a future where healing thrives, and trauma is transcended. Let the flame of Somatic Experiencing® illuminate our collective path toward compassion, connection, and profound transformation.