Body sensations creates affects – reactions in the body, that makes us avoid what is dangerous and come closer to what is good.

Affects creates emotions, and emotions creates feelings (feelings are more like thoughts). By being aware about the body sensations the feelings might be less overwhelming. To do that the child needs a safe adult.


The most common affects when in trauma are fear, anger and shame. The child might try to get others to feel the same as a way to process it. If the child does not get help to verbalize the feelings, the emotions might be seen as symtoms of different kinds.


Many traumatzied children have lost their body awareness. They are not in touch with their bodies, they don´t know where their body is, they are scared of taking in what happens in the body and don´t listen to the signals. That affects the self awareness and the self esteem. To get some sense of self, the child might search for strong emotional experiences as sexual behavior, destructive behaviors, eating disorders and addictions. These brings a sense of self and power.


To process body sensations (Peter Levine) SIBAM:

  • I observe the inner impressions – the body Sensations.
  • I observe the outer impressions and Images.
  • I observe my Behavior, as they help me to understand how I feel.
  • I observe the Affects that are working in my body, and what memories and thoughts they awake, and if these make me feel that the world is safe or dangerous.
  • I create Mening out from what I have observed.


”Be aware about that.” If the child gets help by a safe adult to explore what happens in the body, it will not be overwhelming, and new feelings are created about the body. It can require a lot of courage to start to listen to the body.


The body is constantly moving in between different states. The bad feeling is never the last one. But if traumatized the body can be frozen in a ”bad” state. The awareness about where the body got frozen, can help the body to unfreeze and move on.


Awareness about breathing can also help. When we breath in we activate the sympatic nervous system, the accelarator, when we breath out we activate the parasympatic nervous system, the brake. Many traumatic people have unbalanced breathing. Blowing bubbles can help activate the parasympatic nervous system.


Many traumatized also loose their sense of rhythm. Rhythmical movements, songs, rhymes, can help. If combined with words the connection in between left and right brain is strenghtened. Encourage the child to use her voice – many traumatized people loose their voice!


Encourage the child to use the body in different ways – it gives power. Controlled slow movements calm the nervous system. Sensorimotor training is needed for many.


Many traumatized can not relax. Being still means danger. For them it might be easier and better to tense the muscles – press the feet down, clench the fists, press the arms over the chest – and then relax slowly, slowly.

Ulrika Ernvik