Svenja’s Return to Sensation

Approach: Psychosomato Therapy

“I needed to learn to get back into my body. To reconstruct myself.”

 

The Traumatic Accident – Amnesia and Early Recovery

In the early 1980s, at the age of fifteen Svenja had a motorbike accident following which she was in a coma for five days. She had multiple skin grafts and was an inpatient in hospital for four months. At one point an amputation was considered. She also lost sensation to her calf during this time. She was told that if this didn’t return within a year, it was never going to return.

For around seven years, she couldn’t remember the accident, nor that she had made an incorrect turn on the road. Amnesia can be considered as part of a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD protective response (Bryant et al,. 2009) & (Warden et al,. 1977) Svenja is honest in her appraisal of the crash. It was her fault, and the other person on the bike died. She wasn’t told about their death until a few weeks after the accident.

She remembered that during her hospital stay, she gained 25kg, and felt this may have helped her to create a protective bubble around herself, something that she needed to cope from the trauma. No psychological assistance was given, nor was any physical assistance like osteopathy recommended. When Svenja was discharged from hospital, she completed her required education, finishing her final exams, and then left Germany.

 

Moving on?

Her first job was working for a large holiday company abroad. This complimented her skills and helped her get on with life. Eighteen years after the accident she was having some marital problems with her first husband and she lost 25kg that she had gained during her hospital stay. In that moment, she recognised that something was going on inside her. She didn’t diet, nor did she have any insidious illness. She felt that she was going through the shock again, which felt like it was the first time after the accident.

She strongly felt the two instances of weight gain and then loss were connected with her psychological health following the accident.

 

Asking Questions about her Life

During the SARS outbreak of 2003 Svenja decided to enter a retreat on an island in Malaysia. This was a chosen semi-isolation for two months. She felt she was experiencing a depression at the time and deeply connected to the changing nature around her and related this to her personal experiences. Svenja felt a strong urge to take on meaningful work, rather than return to her corporate life..

She knew that her grandmother used to work as a healer, and felt that she also had this strength in her hands. Initially she started to learn to practice Reiki through the advice of a friend. However, this friend was also a Psychosomato Therapist and this guided Svenja to study this.

 

Somatotherapy

The term “Psychosomato Therapy” was deposited by Dr Richard Meyer in the 1980’s. His European School of Socio and Analytical Psychotherapy (EEPSSA), has trained Doctors, Psychologists, Psychoanalysts and Psychosomato Therapists in France and Europe. (https://www.eepssa.org/) Svenja, however confirmed that she attended her the training at “L’Ecole du Corps Conscience”, Montpellier, France with Nathalie Alvarez & Michel Claverie (Co-founders) This school was more focused on bodily techniques beside the psychotherapeutic approach. The training took her 3-4 years.

She explains that following the instinct to train at the school, she recognised this was the first time she allowed herself to be guided. Having no clue what was in store, she arrived on the first day surprised to learn she would have to be massaged in order to learn how to massage others. Whilst she had a strong dislike of this idea, she decided to persevere with the course.

Thinking that she had no residual post traumatic effects from her earlier accident, Svenja discovered that she did. As a body psychotherapist, she had started to do work on herself.

“In Psychosomato we are Really on the Search of Emotions. Like Detective Work.”

 

Surrender

In her first year, Svenja confirmed she maintained her control and did not let anyone in. She saw the need to accept massage as a requirement in order to become a Therapist. At the end of the first year she received a treatment with five massage therapists in unison. This was the moment she felt she could not maintain control any more, and let go of her barriers.

At the end of the treatment she was carried out of the treatment hall and into the garden. She had a flashback that she was in hospital, under the harsh lights of the projectors in surgery. This confused her, as she had been in a coma at the time. It constituted the first breakthrough in her recovery.

The second breakthrough came in the second year. Through a process known as Rebirth, she learnt again how to surrender and this was primarily done through Breathwork. She recalled during this Breathwork the memory of entering into her coma.

Breathwork methodologies have been commonly practised in ancient and indigenous cultures all over the world. It can be used to facilitate health and recovery from trauma. This paper explains some of the different mechanisms of how and when this is used. (Morningstar, 2021)

 

Reconnection to the Body

An additional technique followed closely behind the process of Rebirth, Svenja was asked to draw herself on a piece of paper. She drew a version of herself with a head so huge that nothing would fit on the paper below her hips. She was advised that this held an important meaning.

A significant awareness formed from this exercise, namely “I don’t have legs” which came full circle back to the accident. The therapist running the session advised Svenja to walk around the room, to enable her to feel the active awareness of her legs.

Svenja learnt that she needed to reconnect with her body and in particular, with her legs to support her reconstruction. She worked on that goal for the remainder of the course.

Art Therapist, Amy Stein shares her case studies with self portrait based art therapy. (Stein, 2008) One ex-military participant describes this work as a way to “affirm and connect to (his own) reality”.

“I shouldn’t say ‘I think’. Its really more of a feeling.”

 

Why does Somato Therapy work?

Svenja reports the therapy has a significant focuses on regaining body awareness. Having an awareness of feeling, both neutral and painful is something we don’t often do. Somatic tracking is a key skill taught in programmes like Curable and the SIRPA Method.

She explains that Somato therapy is the search for emotions; like a self-detective, without force. The Somato room is a place where anger, fear and sadness can be released in a safe space. This can sometimes be experienced as heat and cold. The therapy can help the recipient learn what is behind the sensation.

Somato therapy is supposed to be undertaken by a client for around 3-6 months and the purpose is to learn about yourself and how to react to stimuli and question sensations in your body at any moment.

Recovery stories that include Somatic Awareness appear frequently on Liberation Found. You can find more of these here: Dana, Tamilla, Manju and Fiona.

 

Healing the Healer

Part of Svenja’s training was to find her own therapist. She found a body focused Psychotherapist but without the touch part she was training in. She also found this type of Psychotherapy helped her to reconnect with her legs and her feelings of why she caused of the accident through sensation in her body,.

Svenja felt the only way to really understand what had happened was to feel it. Whilst one can have a cognitive understanding of what happened, it needs to be linked to a sensation to enable positive change.

 

Reiki: Return to Sensation

During her Somato Therapy schooling, Svenja was also undertaking Reiki training. During an individual remote session with her Reiki master a method was used called ‘Laochi’ which used to help with body traumas. Once the session was over, she stood up and for the first time since the accident she was able to feel sensation again on the back of her left leg. The sensation has now fully returned permanently, with only a mild reduction compared to the full sensation on her right leg.

This effectiveness study (N= 1284) found that people commonly experience changes in symptoms (17%) and changes in perception (11%) following courses of Reiki treatment. The author (Dyer et al,. 2022) interprets that Reiki can facilitate a transformative healing experience through the relaxation response.

 

What had to Change?

Svenja felt less that she had to make changes in her life, and more that she had to be open to allow change to happen. Once someone starts on the journey of healing and gains knowledge, there can be no turning back to past ways.

 

Therapists cannot always Treat Themselves

Svenja often requests the help of other Somato Therapists when there is a sensation or difficulty she is struggling to understand independently; remotely or in person. In person sessions will include massage. She has learned the deep connection with body mind and spirit.

Once she healed the disconnect in body she felt she was living a completely different life than the one she lived after the accident. She reported her life was much richer and her heightened awareness had improved her own health and her relationships with others.

She is able now to have more tolerance, be more indulging and have a softer approach to her relationships. Her heightened awareness of anger allows her to release it easily and come down from that heightened emotion much quicker.

 

If Disconnection Happened Again?

She would continue to work through the Psychosomato Therapy. Svenja considers body work is the way to heal.

 

Personality ‘Key Elements’:

  • Honesty – in terms of the accident being her fault

  • Desire to take on altruistic work

  • Following intuition – towards more meaningful work

  • Surrender to a new, uncomfortable process and allowance of a guide

  • Gratitude to learn about herself through the process

  • Ability to use anger appropriately and let it go quickly

 

Barriers and Learning

  • We hadn’t realised that our camera was coming out of focus for a few minutes at the beginning of the video. We apologise if this affects the viewing experience.

  • Whilst Svenja is fluent in English, it is her third language which may have affected our interpretation.

  • Apologies must be made to Svenja for mispronunciation of her name. The J is pronounced Y, phonetically, her name is pronounced “Svenya”.

 

A few Practical Features about Svenja’s Healing Approach:

  • With a trained body work practitioner

  • Completed within a safe treatment room

  • Through the experience of touch from another person

  • Development of felt sense

  • Continued cognitive appraisal of sensation and emotions.

 

‘Case Studies shared on Liberation Found reflect the individual experiences of people who have undergone different methods of treatment and have found a way that has worked for them. However, individual results may vary. We do not claim, and nor should you assume, that any experience recounted is typical or representative of what another person might experience. We cannot guarantee that anyone will achieve the same results. Before you undertake any methodologies that are new to you, please work with a medical professional to ensure this is a suitable technique in your circumstance. We encourage you to discriminate carefully and make your own decisions before signing up for any retreats, sessions, or healings.’

‘The opinions and beliefs shared in individual case studies do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of “Liberation Found”. The video content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. We do not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of the video content. We do not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites listed or linked in relation to the video content’

Fact Files

  • Resolved Symptoms: PTSD, Amnesia, Leg paresthesia
  • Approach: Psychosomato Therapy, Reiki
  • Guided method: With Psychosomato Therapist
  • Touch Based Method: includes massage
  • Non Touch Based Method: Reiki
  • Time Taken for Result: 1 year
  • Combination of Techniques: Reiki
  • Previous Trials at Solution: nil
  • Language: French
  • Location: France
  • Culture of Technique: Non-secular
  • Cost: Approximately €1000
  • Work: Psychosomato Therapist

Links

L’Ecole du Corps Conscience

https://tinyurl.com/4vhc7bkc

(Bryant et al,. 2009)

https://tinyurl.com/mpy2w8y

(Warden et al,. 1977)

https://tinyurl.com/54cntsfh

(Morningstar, 2021)

https://tinyurl.com/4jye9v6r

(Dyer et al,. 2022)

https://tinyurl.com/3rehx49e
#!

Case Studies

Dana’s recovery from debilitating Migraines and chronic hamstring pain offers so many insights for anyone suffering with persistent pain.

June 28, 2024

When Susan’s house renovation was almost complete she fell from the first floor roof, onto the concrete below. The gift that Susan received over the next year of recovery was how important the Psychosocial aspects of healing are after a near death experience.

June 28, 2024

In the early 1980s, at the age of fifteen Svenja had a motorbike accident following which she was in a coma for five days. She had multiple skin grafts, lost sensation in her calf, and was an inpatient in hospital for four months.

June 17, 2024

Tamilla shares how her life improved after being introduced to Vipassana Meditation. She received many unexpected benefits in her mental health and longstanding neck and knee pain. She also speaks on how it has helped her going through Menopause.

May 28, 2024

Sangmu kindly shared her recovery story from three episodes of depression. She speaks about her gradual understanding of what helped lift her out of these times, and what she continues to take into her future, to maintain a healthy mind.

May 10, 2024

Manju’s healing story revolves around non-epileptic seizures that she suffered from the age of nineteen to twenty five. In the last thirty years she has had no reoccurrence of seizures. She reports these started after an episode of Typhoid.

May 2, 2024

Minjur describes suffering from an early age up until he was twenty with prolonged bouts of Gastritis which would force him to leave the mountains and go to Kathmandu for hospital treatment; a journey of at least eight days.

April 23, 2024

Samichhya shared a wonderful story with us today about her experience resolving a medically unexplained condition she experienced during her childhood.

February 2, 2024

Fiona’s healing journey was one of the first I heard about in the sphere of Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain recovery. If I hadn't personally known her, I don’t think I would have believed such an extraordinary story.

January 9, 2024

Nam was my first official interview for Liberation Found, and was an absolute pleasure to talk to about his work navigating anger and anxiety as a Psychotherapist and using Meditation.

December 13, 2023

Dana’s Recovery from Migraines and Chronic Pain

Jess

Dana’s recovery from debilitating Migraines and chronic hamstring pain offers so many insights for anyone suffering with persistent pain.

June 28, 2024

Susan: The Gift of a Broken Back

Jess

When Susan’s house renovation was almost complete she fell from the first floor roof, onto the concrete below. The gift that Susan received over the next year of recovery was how important the Psychosocial aspects of healing are after a near death experience.

June 28, 2024

Svenja’s Return to Sensation

Jess

In the early 1980s, at the age of fifteen Svenja had a motorbike accident following which she was in a coma for five days. She had multiple skin grafts, lost sensation in her calf, and was an inpatient in hospital for four months.

June 17, 2024

Vipassana: Tamilla’s Freedom from Neck pain and Anger

Jess

Tamilla shares how her life improved after being introduced to Vipassana Meditation. She received many unexpected benefits in her mental health and longstanding neck and knee pain. She also speaks on how it has helped her going through Menopause.

May 28, 2024

Sangmu’s Perfectly Simple Solution for Depression

Jess

Sangmu kindly shared her recovery story from three episodes of depression. She speaks about her gradual understanding of what helped lift her out of these times, and what she continues to take into her future, to maintain a healthy mind.

May 10, 2024

Seizures, Christianity and Prayer: Manju’s Story

Jess

Manju’s healing story revolves around non-epileptic seizures that she suffered from the age of nineteen to twenty five. In the last thirty years she has had no reoccurrence of seizures. She reports these started after an episode of Typhoid.

May 2, 2024

Minjur Lama: Healing Chronic Gastritis

Jess

Minjur describes suffering from an early age up until he was twenty with prolonged bouts of Gastritis which would force him to leave the mountains and go to Kathmandu for hospital treatment; a journey of at least eight days.

April 23, 2024

Samichhya’s Determination. The Qualities of Healing found through Faith?

Jess

Samichhya shared a wonderful story with us today about her experience resolving a medically unexplained condition she experienced during her childhood.

February 2, 2024

Fiona’s Chronic Fatigue, an Extraordinary Story

Jess

Fiona’s healing journey was one of the first I heard about in the sphere of Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain recovery. If I hadn't personally known her, I don’t think I would have believed such an extraordinary story.

January 9, 2024

Psychotherapist Nam on Growing out of Anger and Anxiety

Jess

Nam was my first official interview for Liberation Found, and was an absolute pleasure to talk to about his work navigating anger and anxiety as a Psychotherapist and using Meditation.

December 13, 2023

Share Your Story With Us

Liberation Found is always on the look out for people with a story to share. We would love to visit you either online or in person, and help to expand the positivity in the world that it is possible to find healing.