Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Kari L. Fletcher

Abstract

Trauma is an issue that affects many people, and traditional trauma treatment techniques have fallen short of helping people to completely heal. The purpose of this project was to explore the views of mental health practitioners as to why Somatic Experiencing (SE) works in the treatment of trauma. Using a qualitative design, ten mental health practitioners currently utilizing SE techniques were interviewed about their experiences applying SE with trauma clients. Data was analyzed using content analysis and an inductive approach in which categories were first developed from the interview responses via open coding and then were linked to previous related literature. The findings of this study both supported and added to the existing literature by highlighting the themes of the client increasing body awareness, treatment proceeding at the client’s pace, and empowerment of the client in the therapeutic process. In addition, many subthemes were found, with building a positive resource toolbox, creating balance without overwhelm, and normalizing the client experience by emphasizing their survival particularly of note as being sparingly mentioned in previous literature or not at all. These findings underscore the importance of how social work practice can be enhanced through a continued emphasis on the mind-body connection when working with clients affected by trauma, as well as assisting clients in gaining body awareness, and the ongoing development of the therapeutic relationship.

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