Somatic Experiencing and Mentoring

“The super-power of human kind is our capacity to connect; it is regulating, rewarding, and the major route by which we can teach, coach, parent, heal, mentor and learn.” Dr. Bruce Perry

At Seedling we often refer to our mentors as having “super powers.”  You have that uncanny ability to light up the face of your mentee, no matter their disposition, just by walking in the room.  As their mentor you are in an auspicious position to transform their day from “just okay” to “awesome.” We know that you do this on a regular basis.  Research tells us that to be successful in connecting with your mentee, you must be ready for anything when you arrive. For those times your mentee could benefit from some extra attention and grounding to center them, Somatic Experiencing is a tool that can help.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body based model for working with the nervous system.  Developed by Dr. Peter Levine as a therapeutic treatment for trauma, SE has the potential to strengthen our resiliency and support our emotional well-being.  In SE the focus is on our physical being.  Directing attention to greater awareness of our internal state promotes a calming effect.  By learning and practicing SE we are taking steps to create safety and facilitate peace in our nervous system.  A wonderful upside to Somatic Experiencing is it can be implemented in any environment and you can teach it to your mentee as a self-care tool, enhancing their ability to take care of themselves.

Helpful Strategies for Calming

  1. Drink (sip) a glass of water, juice or cup of tea. Notice the temperature and taste.
  2. Look around the room, or wherever you are, paying attention to anything that catches your attention.
  3. Name six colors you see in the room or outside the room.
  4. Close (look down) and open your eyes and look around the room / landscape (natural or imagined).
  5. Count backwards from 10 (or from 100 if an adult). This can also be done while walking.
  6. If you’re inside, notice the furniture and touch the surface, noticing if it’s hard, soft, rough, etc…
  7. What is the temperature in the room?
  8. Notice the sounds within the room and outside.
  9. Walk and pay attention to the movement in your arms and legs or how your feet are contacting with the ground.
  10. Push your hands against the wall or door slowly and notice your muscles in your arms and/or your legs. Notice afterwards when you release.
  11. Stand with your back against the wall pushing your body against it, and notice the support from the wall. Notice any changes.

When Helping Your Mentee Feel Grounded

Ask yourself

  • what do I bring to this situation from my personal history and current experiences?
  • how does this child perceive me?
  • what else might be going on in the environment that is influencing the situation?
  • what does behavior tell us about a child’s needs or a skill to be developed?

Take care to

  • be flexible in responding.
  • adjust interaction based on the child’s needs.
  • be aware of the child’s perception of your voice/presence/interactions (as welcoming, threatening, etc.).
  • know what you are bringing to the situation.
  • be a calm, attentive presence.

In practicing Somatic Experience, we learn to focus our attention on our physical sensations.  SE invites us to take care of ourselves, identify when we need to slow down, shift to something that stabilizes and builds our capacity.

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