SomatoEmotional Release® (SER) is a therapeutic process used in CranioSacral Therapy that helps to release emotional energy of past traumas that for reasons deemed appropriate has been retained, suppressed, and isolated within the body.

Dr. John Upledger, developer of CranioSacral Therapy, in the clinical application of his method and during his work and research with Dr. Zvi Karni, a biophysicist and bioengineer at Michigan State University, came to realize, that very often the body retains, suppresses and isolates the negative emotional energy and physical force of an injury that penetrated into its tissues, rather than dissipating it. This localized and concentrated energy, that Dr. Upledger named Energy Cyst, is disruptive to the controlled, functioning energy system and efficient function of the body.

An Energy Cyst doesn’t produce its full effect right away. Initially, the body accommodates to the presence of the Energy Cyst as best it can, but slowly this accommodation comes at some cost to the total body. Over a period of months and years pain, physical dysfunction, and emotional disturbances my occur. Most often it manifests itself in chronic physical illness, though it can be much more insidious, such as decreased immune function, autoimmune disease, fatigue, anxiety or even social, mental or psychological dysfunction, e.g. lack of confidence, panic disorder.

The aim of SER is to discover and release the adverse effects of past physical traumas, emotional traumas, pathogenic microbes, excessive radiation, toxic substances, etc. from body, mind and spirit, as well as to facilitate the realization of their effects on our physical, emotional and mental health.


Most modalities separate body and mind, offering either physical therapy or psychotherapy. It is known, however, that a radical change in physical health, for the better or worse, is always accompanied by mental change. It is also known from studies of behavior that the reverse is equally true - a significant change in mental perspective is always accompanied by a change in body activity, posture, and movement. Body and mind are inseparable and simply different facets of a single, unified being. SomatoEmotional Release® provides a gentle and creative framework and toolkit for working with the tissues of the body and the emotions simultaneously, allowing a release of adverse energy or memory of retained traumas. SomatoEmotional Release® facilitates personal growth. It also supports us moving from illness and unresolved issues towards health, wellbeing, and fulfillment. CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release® combine all aspects of human nature (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) into one, that facilitates profound change and growth in our lives.

What is Tissue Memory?

Tissue memory plays an important role in SomatoEmotional Release®. Body cells and tissues, such as fascia, muscles, bones, or viscera have the ability to retain memories of experienced trauma without necessarily depending upon centrally located neurons for the storage and interpretation of these memories. Further, somatic and visceral tissues and cells of all kinds store energy of specific emotions related to the remembered experienced trauma. Such traumatic experiences can be physical trauma, sports injury, car accident, surgery, life-threatening situation, childhood trauma, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, trauma in our intimate relationships, war trauma, post-traumatic stress, etc.


When, for example, a particular muscle group is injured during a physical trauma, a memory of the trauma is stored in the affected tissues. This usually means that a small, nonconscious contraction has formed in that particular muscle group as a protective reminder of the trauma. If tissue memory is not sufficiently released, the contraction will remain in the muscle even after the injury itself has healed, leading to further pain and dysfunction.

When these nonconscious contractions are not released, they may spread tension to other parts of the body. Usually the body accommodates to these tension patterns and we begin to feel completely normal. Over time however, this accommodation requires more and more extra energy, and these tension patterns can cause chronic pain and other symptoms of which the origin is unknown.

The therapist applying a special CranioSacral Therapy/SomatoEmotionalRelease® technique (Therapeutic Imagery and Dialogue combined with gentle physical techniques) connects with the tension pattern, facilitating the healing process at the level of the source of the issue, the memory of the original trauma can emerge to the surface. Once the memory and the associated negative emotions are present within the patient’s conscious awareness, the patient becomes able to relate to them in a different, more appropriate or healthy way. At the same time, the physical tension from the muscle in question releases, the pain will begin to heal. Release can occur in a single treatment session. In case of a more serious issue several treatment sessions might be required in order to make sure that the body has safely and completely released the negative effects of the retained physical or emotional trauma.

Source: Upledger Institute

© 2020 Emile van der Hilst | Photography Owen Strock