Somatic Experiencing: Expanding the Psychodynamic Dialogue – David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP, SEP

Somatic Experiencing: Expanding the Psychodynamic Dialogue

David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP, SEP

Professional Education Seminar at Smith College School for Social Work

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a bio-psychological model originally developed by Peter Levine for understanding and treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has been expanded to treat psychic/somatic/nervous system dysregulation more generally. SE provides perspectives and approaches that are especially helpful in our work with clients who are prone to states of intense over-activation (anxiety, panic, terror, agitation, rage, mortification, etc.) or under-activation (freeze, numbness, emptiness, deadness, etc.). A central aim of SE is to facilitate the restoration and enhancement of the client’s intrinsic regulatory capacities, with the larger goal of bringing a more highly resourced self to the task of processing life’s ongoing experiences (including experiences in the psychotherapy context). SE has particular relevance for people who are vulnerable to the triggering of dissociative states related to trauma.

After many years of practicing psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis, Dr. Levit trained in SE. He will discuss his efforts to integrate this approach into psychodynamic psychotherapy. On the theoretical level, he will discuss and contextualize central principals and techniques of SE in terms of psychodynamic paradigms. On the clinical level, he will present psychotherapy process material to illustrate his attempts to interweave this non-psychodynamic approach into psychodynamic treatment. He will also discuss ways in which the weave is not seamless.

Continuing Education Credits or Units

Six Continuing Education Credits or Units are available for social workers and for psychologists.

For Further Information and to Apply


David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP, SEP. Diplomate in Psychoanalysis and in Clinical Psychology. Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). Faculty positions: Faculty and Supervising Analyst, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP); Co-founder, Co-chair, and Faculty, MIP Postgraduate Fellowship Program-West; Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Adjunct Instructor in Psychiatry, Tufts Medical School. His office is in Amherst, MA where he has been in private practice since 1989. He provides individual therapy and psychoanalysis and consultation for colleagues.


Bromberg, P. M. (2008). Shrinking the tsunami: Affect regulation, dissociation, and the shadow of the flood. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 44, 329-350.

Eldredge, C. B., & Cole, G. W. (2008). Learning from work with individuals with a history of trauma: Some thoughts on integrating body-oriented techniques and relational psychoanalysis. In F. S. Anderson (Ed.) Bodies in treatment: The unspoken dimension, 79-102. New York: Analytic Press.

Levine, P. A. (2010). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley, CA.: North Atlantic Books.

Levit, D. (2018). Somatic Experiencing: In the Realms of Trauma and Dissociation –What We Can Do, When What We Do, is Really Not Good Enough. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5).

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. NY: Penguin Books.