Should You Try Somatic Experiencing Training and Certification?

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on April 25, 2023
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Mental health is an issue that affects one out of four people worldwide.

Due to this, the need for professional mental healthcare has become increasingly prevalent than ever before. Various therapies and interventions have come up over the years to cater to different mental health conditions.

One such therapy is Somatic Experiencing Therapy or SET. Are you considering trying SET, but unsure of whether it’s right for you? In this blog post, we’ll discuss who should try SET and certification and provide reasons why you should avoid it.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team consists of experts in the field of mental health that are committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information to help equip individuals with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their mental health care.

We use evidence-based research to provide factual information about different types of somatic experience training programs, as well as resources and tips to help you decide which program is best for you.

Basic Principles of Somatic Experiencing

Does Somatic Experiencing (SE) Work? SE practices for healing | Monica LeSage | TEDxWilmingtonWomen

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a psychobiological method that aims to relieve chronic stress, increase your capacity to negotiate stress and trauma, and resolve symptoms of trauma.

The skills you learn in this type of therapy help you and your clients trust in the innate wisdom of your body and separate, allowing you to experience body sensations and emotions without becoming overwhelmed.

In SE training, practitioners use a framework known as SIBAM (Sensation, Imagery, Behavior, Affect, and Meaning) to help clients address and process traumatic triggers.

Difference Between Somatic Experiencing and Mindfulness Meditation

Somatic Experiencing (SE) and Mindfulness Meditation (MM) are two distinct practices that both help people become more aware of their bodies and emotions.

While they both aim to raise awareness of one’s body, they differ in terms of their goals, techniques, and underlying principles.

  • SE is designed to help individuals process traumatic experiences and release pent-up tension from their bodies, while MM focuses on cultivating a sense of calm and equanimity by staying present at the moment.
  • SE is concerned with addressing the physical symptoms associated with trauma, such as chronic stress, muscular tension, and emotional numbness. It uses slow-paced somatic movements and exercises to process past traumatic events and alleviate physical discomfort.
  • On the other hand, MM does not typically include any somatic elements or meditative techniques; instead, its goal is to cultivate a mindful attitude toward life’s experiences. The practice involves staying conscious in the present moment without judgment or attachment.

Both SE and MM can be used to reduce stress levels as well as increase the clarity of thought; however, SE also helps address unresolved physical sensations related to trauma while MM teaches practitioners how to remain emotionally detached from uncomfortable thoughts or feelings.

Often mindfulness meditation is best to learn first as it prepares people to face their trauma more safely. If you are interested in learning meditation, or having your clients learn meditation first before SET, there are many options available, such as the Headspace 2-week free trial.

Who should try SET?

Individuals with chronic pain, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or difficulty regulating their temper, among other conditions, will benefit from SET. The therapy assists people in understanding and releasing past trauma that has become trapped in their bodies.

SET was created by Dr. Peter A. Levine, a psychologist who analyzed the natural, adaptive impact of wild prey on the nervous system. He hypothesized that people could alleviate persistent stress and distress connected to past trauma by following the same principles as prey animals.

SET can train people to stay present during overwhelming situations, according to Dr. Levine’s theory. The techniques taught can provide insight into the body’s interconnected systems, allowing clients to become specialists in their stress responses.

This assists people in recognizing early warning signals before being triggered, helping them to recognize feeling signals as merely that rather than a legitimate threat.

Who should obtain certification?

The people who should obtain SET certification are therapists, counselors, social workers, and other professionals who diagnose and treat people suffering from trauma.

Certification verifies that individuals have completed a minimum of three years (or 36 three-hour sessions) of SET training, have treated a minimum of 50 clients under supervision, and provided a minimum of six case consultations with an approved consultant.

Certification provides recognition that the professional has the necessary knowledge SET skills and experience in treating trauma victims using SET techniques.

Somatic Experiencing Certification Training Programs

  • Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (SETI): The official training program for Somatic Experiencing Certification, offered in various locations worldwide. This program includes three levels of training: Level 1 covers the foundational skills, Level 2 focuses on therapeutic techniques and case studies, and Level 3 covers advanced topics. Each level requires a specific number of hours of instruction and practice to complete, with a total of at least 140 hours needed to become certified.
  • Somatic Resilience Training: This online course offered by Brightside Health is designed for practitioners and individuals alike who are interested in learning about the basics of Somatic Experiencing. This 5-month training consists of 12 modules, including lectures, group discussions, and practice sessions.
  • The Center for Mindful Psychotherapy: This organization offers an intensive Somatic Experiencing Certification Program which lasts 10 months and consists of over 300 hours of contact and non-contact hours. During this program, students will cover key topics such as diagnostics, assessment, and treatment planning as well as other topics related to somatic psychology and psychotherapy.
  • Breathwork Academy: Offering both online courses as well as in-person workshops, the Breathwork Academy provides in-depth certification programs specifically designed for those interested in integrating breathwork into their practices or using it to help themselves heal trauma or rewire their limbic systems.

Who should you avoid SET? 

While SET is a proven technique for healing trauma, individuals with a history of psychosis should avoid it. People with this condition may not be able to distinguish between reality and hallucinations.

Additionally, while SET can be an effective tool for those with trauma, it is not a cure-all.

The therapy should be used in conjunction with medications, other therapies, or any other form of treatment prescribed by a professional, such as EMDR. Self-medication or self-diagnosed treatment using SET techniques can aggravate the symptoms and the consequences of trauma.

What is Somatic Experiencing Training?

Somatic Experiencing Training is a form of therapy that helps individuals overcome trauma and other mental health issues. This type of training focuses on the body-oriented approach to the healing process and helps people complete self-protective motor responses that may be stuck in the body due to trauma.

Somatic Experiencing Training is offered by various institutions and it involves a highly experiential educational model. Upon completion, individuals become certified practitioners in this field.

Who is The Somatic Experiencing Training for?

The Somatic Experiencing Training is for individuals who are looking for a professional development and training program in becoming a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP).

This educational model is highly experiential and provides tangible skills that help individuals become more present in their bodies and address trauma-related issues. The training is fully accredited by the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute and successful completion leads to certification as a SEP.

However, there are many other training programs out there. For example, online EMDR training is also another viable option for complementary professional training for mental health professionals.

How Do I Become a Somatic Practitioner?

To become a Somatic Practitioner, you will need to complete a professional training program in Somatic Experiencing.

The program is highly experiential and offers tangible skills to heal traumatic human suffering. You can obtain certification as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) upon successful completion of the training.

The training is open to therapeutic professionals from various fields, and you can choose to specialize in somatic psychology through your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Several organizations offer training programs, and the requirements might vary. You can find a program that best suits your needs by exploring the various opportunities available online.

While the lead author of this piece, Jared Levenson (hi!), believes body-centered meditation is the best way to train the foundational skills necessary to teach and practice Somatic Experiencing. For example, Vipassana, Mindfulness, or Zen Meditation.

Of course, learning mindfulness with a free trial of Headspace is also a good start if you are new to meditation because Headspace makes mindfulness simple for beginners.

If you are almost ready to commit to SE, and you already have the prerequisite skills, then simply continue to learn more until you’re ready.

Further reading on the benefits and drawbacks of somatic therapy, where to look for a trained SE practitioner, the research backing body-centered therapies, and how to determine if somatic experiencing therapy is right for you can be found in other articles published by Online Mental Health Review.

How Many Hours Is Somatic Experiencing Training?

If you’re looking to learn more about Somatic Experiencing, the training typically requires multiple hours of coursework. Some programs offer students a 3-hour introductory course, while others provide a full-day or six-hour in-person training.

Additionally, personal SE sessions usually involve between 12-16 hours of training and SE case consultations require 18 hours of instruction. Overall, the time commitment required for Somatic Experiencing training can vary depending on the program and individual needs.

Can You Teach Yourself Somatic Therapy?

Yes, it is possible to teach yourself somatic therapy with various exercises and techniques. However, learning from a trained therapist is often best.

Somatic therapy is a practice that involves using the body to process emotional and psychological distress. These techniques can include breathing exercises, shaking, and mindful movements.

By focusing on the sensations and movements of the body, you can regulate your nervous system and find calmness. Some easy somatic exercises include placing your hands on your heart, doing slow deep breathing, and shaking the body for a few minutes.

There are also plenty of resources available, including articles and videos, that can help guide you through somatic therapy exercises.

List of Somatic Experiencing Training Programs:

  • Somatic Experiencing Professional Training Program by Trauma Healing Institute: This highly experiential program offers tangible skills to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. Learn more
  • Somatic Experiencing Professional Training by Somatic Experiencing: Professional training are available in 46 countries, including every continent except Antarctica. Learn more
  • Integrative Trauma Practitioner™ Training by The Aura Institute: This training offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western psychology, neuroscience, and spirituality. Learn more
  • Somatic Trauma Therapy Certificate Program by The Embody Lab: This program brings renowned somatic trauma therapy teachers into one comprehensive training. Learn more
  • Certificate in Somatic Psychotherapy and Practices by Antioch University: This certificate program offers expanded training for experienced practitioners. Learn more
  • Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy Certificate Program by The Embody Lab: This unique program is based on the latest trauma therapy research and includes comprehensive skills training. Learn more
  • Somatic Experiencing Professional Training Program by Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute: This three-year program provides a thorough theoretical grounding in trauma physiology for professionals seeking experience in Somatic Experiencing. Learn more

5 Tips to Get the Best Somatic Experience Training Programs

  • Look for professional training programs: Look for somatic experience training programs that are specifically designed for professionals, as they tend to offer more comprehensive and in-depth instruction.
  • Check the credentials of the program: Ensure that the program is properly accredited and recognized in the somatic experience field.
  • Read reviews and testimonials: Look for reviews from individuals who have completed the program to see if it was worth the investment. You can find testimonials on program websites or on independent review websites.
  • Investigate the program curriculum: Review the course description and syllabus to ensure that it meets your needs and goals. Some somatic experience programs focus on trauma-informed therapy, while others may emphasize spiritual growth and personal development.
  • Consider the delivery format: Some somatic experience training programs may be offered in person, while others may be available online. Consider what format would best fit your schedule and learning style.

5 Benefits of Somatic Experiencing Training

  • Release of Tension from Trauma: Somatic experiencing training can help the body release tension stored due to trauma, enabling individuals to experience reduced stress and improved overall wellness.
  • Resolution of Trauma Symptoms: Somatic experience training can help individuals resolve trauma symptoms and relieve chronic stress. The method focuses on completing self-protective motor responses and releasing thwarted survival energy bound within the body.
  • Experiential Therapy for Trauma: Somatic experiencing provides experiential somatic therapy that benefits people who have experienced physical or emotional trauma.
  • Treatment of Trauma-Related Disorders: Somatic experiencing can benefit individuals experiencing trauma-related disorders including anxiety, grief, PTSD, and substance use disorders. The therapy can also help alleviate chronic pain resulting from trauma.
  • Body-Oriented Therapy: Somatic experiencing is a form of body-oriented therapy that seeks to relieve the symptoms of trauma and other stress disorders through a body-oriented approach.

Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy Certificate

Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy Certificate ( is a unique 3-month online certificate program designed for individuals, practitioners, and educators who want to explore a unified somatic approach to trauma therapy.

This certificate program provides a holistic framework for enhancing the body’s natural capacity to heal from body-stored trauma by freeing the body, breathing, and energy flow.

Somatic Therapy Center’s “Heal Others with Somatic Healing” Program

If you’re struggling with mental health and looking for healing, you might want to know more about the “Heal Others with Somatic Healing” program offered by the Somatic Therapy Center. This program trains practitioners to facilitate somatic healing using techniques that explore the mind-body connection.

The curriculum has been developed by master teachers Joe Weldon and Noël Wight who have years of experience in this field of professional practice. To learn more about somatic therapy healing others programs use this link:

Somatic Experiencing Training Conclusion:

Somatic Experiencing Training is a tried and true technique that psychologists say can greatly assist those who suffer from trauma. It has helped people with various conditions to alleviate their symptoms and live a better quality of life.

Certification, meanwhile, provides recognition that the professional has the necessary skills and knowledge to help people succeed.

However, before embarking on any therapy, including SET, consult with a professional to see if it’s right for you. It’s important to note that while SET is an effective technique, it’s not a cure-all, and self-treatment using SET techniques can be detrimental to your mental health.

We’d love to hear from you. Of course, if you have any questions about somatic experience training or would like to suggest a mental health service, app, or online course that the Online Mental Health Reviews team should try, please leave a comment below!

If You’re In An Emergency

If you are in an emergency, do not wait for an online therapy appointment. Instead, seek help right away and call 911 if necessary. If thoughts of self-harm or harming others come up, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Additionally, The National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be reached 24/7 at 800-662-HELP (4357). This free and confidential service can provide support to people with mental or substance abuse disorders in finding treatment options.

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