Somatic Experiencing™ Based Embodied
Principals of SE Family Therapy
1. The family has a natural drive to
health. Working with the health
within the family leads to the
family regaining its own health.
2. SE Family Therapy is solution focused,
short-term and practical.
3. SE Family therapy alternates between
individual work and family work to
support the family to develop increased
emotion regulation capacity.
4. Through completing defensive
responses to social threats and
increasing “felt-experiance” of
attachment the family regains its
By re-establishing innate resilience in a family and its members the family becomes a
central agent of healing after a traumatic event.
Working with both implicit (body/somatic) and explicit (cognitive/narrative)
systems the family increases emotional regulation capacity and reduces the amount of time
spent in states vulnerable to behaviors destructive to the family and individual health.
Goals of SE Family Therapy
1. Change in family structure
2. Change in family and individual
stress set point.
3. Change in regulatory capacity.
4. Change in attachment behaviors
and increased play.
5. Increased quality of life, vitality
and life-space for family members.
Stages of Treatment
Joining (BSFT): Entering with the family into a problem solving state.
Assessment (diagnosis BSFT): Identifies areas of resiliency and challenge.
Resource and Regulate (Embodied): Start all change with regulation and resourcing focusing on
positive emotions, relaxation response and mastery experiences.
Restructure (BSFT): When restructuring the family system or a pattern of interactions sandwich
challenging family work between resourcing and orienting to family health.
Reassess: For stability of change and one change leading to other positive changes in the family.
Reenforce small changes through deepening the felt-experience of the change.
Embodied Family Therapy Tools
1. Resourcing: Resourcing is shifting attention to any experience that makes an individual
feel good, relaxed, strong, effective or gives a mastery experience.
2. Orienting: Focusing in the here and now through - Touch, Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste,
3. Family Pause: In session if one individual becomes overwhelmed and are past their
ability to tolerate emotion, take a pause in the conversation. The therapist then
supports that family member to 1. take a break, 2. use a skill to regulate, 3. work
with the defensive response.
4. Repatterning: Using multiple techneques to enact a family pattern while adding in
more resources, emotion regulation, support or completing defensive responses.
5. Completion of Defensive Response: Identify thwarted defensive response during trauma
through SIBAM - R. Support the impulse of the defensive response to complete
mobilized self-protection strategy.
6. Reinforcing “felt attachment”: Teaching
family to recognize the impact they are
having on each other through attending to
“non-verbal” signs of emotional connections.
Work with the individuals to deepen the
experience of attachment through
attending to the sensations of they feel in
response to seeing emotional impact on
7. Modeling Skills: Clinician models effective interactions with the family as well as
through verbal expression of self-monitoring of sensations and emotional reactions.
8. Self-Tracking: Teaching the family to recognize signs of fight, flight and freeze in
themselves and other family members. Help the family understand how to attend to body
9. Uncoupling elements of SIBAM-R from interaction pattern: Often a family interaction
becomes over-coupled with an activation state or an element of SIBAM-R. The
therapist can use pendulation and orienting response to work with uncoupling the fight
or flight response from pattern of interaction.
10. Pendulation: Supporting the natural movement between activation and deactivation
(stress and rest).