Somatic Experiencing is professional development training with a certification process approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Certificate Board for Massage Therapy and Bodywork (NCBTMB), as well as 4 other national board accreditations, for the treatment of trauma. Requiring 216 contact hours of training, 12 hours personal sessions and 18 hours of supervision. Completion of which is titled SEP, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.
SEP certification requires personal sessions by an approved session provider as well as supervision by an approved supervision provider at the training level of the student. An approved session and supervision provider requires experience and supervision beyond SEP certification.
Pre and perinatal training (PPN) is not recognized by any therapeutic organization. The designation "PPNE" is for a certificate program as an educator in prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. This designation is assigned by the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health to students who complete an 11 module program. Currently (2016), there are several trainings in pre and perinatal therapies that are continuing education only, not an official certification program. There is no governing body, ethical code of conduct, required supervision or established safety guidelines. For the general public, consumers need to be careful how they select practitioners who say they work with early trauma. For safest selections, consumers are encouraged to ask practitioners about their credentials. The combination of SEP and PPN reflects considerable focus, dedication, and ethical practice.
Additional designations in the pre and perinatal realm for working with mothers and babies include touch therapies such as craniosacral therapy and massage. Practitioners should have a license to touch. Lactation training also has a continuum of training from peer educator to professional international board certification (IBCLC). Peer education and support has been shown to be effective (La Leche League), and many of these educators and peer support will refer to IBCLC. Perinatal practitioners who work repairing difficult births work in tandem with lactation professionals. Consumers have the right to choose to see both perinatal trauma specialists and these lactation specialist, and often choose peer educators only.
Somatic therapy is a hot topic in the therapy world, there is widespread awareness of this type of therapy. The public can’t typically differentiate for themselves someone who is trained in/certified in a type of therapy and someone who is not. Licensed professionals under their professional ethical guidelines require full disclosure of competency. Responsibility of disclosure of competency, when the public likely can’t differentiate, lies with the professional.
Having a session with someone who says they do SE and has not taken an SE training nor had sessions or supervision with an approved provider (not just an SEP, or SE student) is really just having a session with the provider’s interpretation of a theory. What the public doesn’t know when someone flagrantly states, “I do SE” and is not certified, is they are not being treated by someone who has competency and recognition in the field as having taken all the steps to learn a type of trauma treatment, integrated it by engaging in personal process of the treatment, and through feedback and refinement of the skills during required supervision in the implementation of the treatment. “I do SE” is not providing full disclosure to the public that all steps for competency have been taken and that the provider has been approved of as demonstrating competency. Informed consent is not being given if stating, “I do Somatic Experiencing” without full disclosure of their competency in it; “I’ve read Peter Levine’s books,” “I’ve had SE sessions,” “I’ve completed a 1-day SE fundamentals class,” etc. SEP demonstrates certification and requirements met that demonstrates competency.
Stating you use a skill that does not have an international certification and recognition by national accrediting boards is customary. No certification demonstrates that there is no need for certification for competency, safety to the public. Using the theory in ones own interpretation and presentation is frequently utilized, integrating ideas in to ones practice. But presenting oneself as doing SE, is false advertisement and manipulation of the public’s perception.
By Mary Ware, LPCC RCST® SEP and Kate White, MA, CMT, BCMBT, RCST®, CEIM, PPNE, SEP