Somatic experiencing – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy : a scoping literature review


The body-oriented therapeutic approach Somatic Experiencing® (SE) treats post-traumatic symptoms by changing the interoceptive and proprioceptive sensations associated with the traumatic experience. Filling a gap in the landscape of trauma treatments, SE has attracted growing interest in research and therapeutic practice, recently.




To date, there is no literature review of the effectiveness and key factors of SE. This review aims to summarize initial findings on the effectiveness of SE and to outline method-specific key factors of SE.




To gain a first overview of the literature, we conducted a scoping review including studies until 13 August 2020. We identified 83 articles of which 16 fit inclusion criteria and were systematically analysed.




Findings provide preliminary evidence for positive effects of SE on PTSD-related symptoms. Moreover, initial evidence suggests that SE has a positive impact on affective and somatic symptoms and measures of well-being in both traumatized and non-traumatized samples. Practitioners and clients identified resource-orientation and use of touch as method-specific key factors of SE. Yet, an overall studies quality assessment as well as a Cochrane analysis of risk of bias indicate that the overall study quality is mixed.




The results concerning effectiveness and method-specific key factors of SE are promising; yet, require more support from unbiased RCT-research. Future research should focus on filling this gap.




  • This is to our knowledge the first literature review of the effectiveness and key factors of Somatic Experiencing (SE).
  • Results provide preliminary evidence that SE is an effective treatment of PSTD related symptoms and may be also usefull in the treatment of other disorders.
Marie Kuhfuß, Tobias Maldei, Andreas Hetmanek & Nicola Baumann | 2021
In: European Journal of Psychotraumatology ; ISSN: 2000-8066 | 12 | 1 | 1929023
Literature Review, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotherapy, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Somatic Symptoms, Therapeutic Physical Exercise