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Somatic Psychology Course Descriptions

Creating Community
This course provides an opportunity for students in the somatic psychology concentration to make connections between their embodied personal histories and professional aspirations, while simultaneously building a container for learning together.

Foundations of Somatic Psychology
This experiential survey course in somatic psychology provides students with a historical and theoretical overview of the field of somatic psychology, and introduces principles, concepts, and methods that underlie in many established modalities. Students are offered the opportunity to experience some of these modalities in action, and to make links between their own interests and orientations, to the broader field.

Somatic Awareness
The capacity to experience, identify, and cultivate kinesthetic sensation is fundamental to the practice of somatic psychology. Students in this course will be introduced to a variety of practices designed to facilitate somatic awareness in themselves and others, including the Sensory Awareness work of Charlotte Selver. Emphasis will be also be placed on how somatic awareness skills and strategies translate to a psychotherapeutic context.

Cultivating the Senses, II
Working from a phenomenological standpoint, this course examines the relationship between the physical senses and meaningful human experience. It takes as its point of departure the Western worldview of experience as mediated by language and abstract thought, and introduces students to processes for reclaiming a connection to the sensuous domains of the body embedded in the natural world.

Experiential Anatomy
This course draws on an experiential approach to learning human anatomy, based on the premise that understanding the physicality of the human body is necessary to working with its psychological dimensions. Students will explore the major body systems through guided imagery, drawing, movement, and touch.

The Knowing Body
Focusing, an approach to personal exploration developed by Eugene Gendlin, provides a simple yet effective tool for transforming implicit embodied awareness into explicit knowledge. This research-based model emphasizes the importance of attending to the felt sense of the body in exploring psychological concerns, and serves as a base for many somatic psychotherapy techniques. Students will be introduced to Focusing both theoretically and experientially, with opportunities to practice facilitating Focusing sessions.

Developmental Embodiment
In this course students will be introduced to developmental approaches to somatic psychology, and to how notions of embodiment have been applied to developmental psychology and related disciplines. Experiential components will underscore the idea of embodiment as a developmental process, rather than as a static condition of human experience.

The Body in Motion
Movement forms one of the cornerstones of somatic psychology theory and practice. It can serve as the primary basis for psychotherapeutic intervention (as it does in dance movement therapy) or it can be integrated into clinical work by focusing on movement behaviors as they emerge in the session. Students will learn strategies for facilitating movement explorations in both individual and group formats.

Somatic Inquiry
Somatic Inquiry is an approach to research that privileges subjective embodiment in understanding human experience. Students will have an opportunity to see how a somatic perspective informs each stage of a research project, from topic selection through data presentation, and how to practice using somatic inquiry methods.

Somatic Assessment
In this course, students will explore a range of somatically oriented observation and assessment models, including developmental, psychodynamic, and process-oriented frameworks. An integrative somatic assessment framework will be introduced, and students will be provided with an opportunity to work with this model in clinical and psychoeducational contexts.

Psychology of Touch
Touch is one of the oldest and most fundamental forms of healing and helping. This course examines the evolutionary emergence of touch, its fundamental significance in human experience, and the intricate connections between skin and brain via the nervous system. This course also addresses the contemporary application of touch in psychotherapy, including important legal and ethical considerations.

The Poetic Body
This course focuses on the intersecting dimensions of somatic psychology and the expressive arts. By working with imagination through the implicit knowledge of the body, students will have an opportunity to explore how music, art, poetry, dance, and theater can enrich and transform embodied experience in a psychotherapeutic context.

The Social Body
This course explores the application of somatic psychology to sociocultural issues, proposes strategies for bringing the body into the exploration of diversity and equity issues, and underscores the need to address social, cultural, and political influences on issues of embodiment.

The Transpersonal Body
Drawing on both Eastern and Western perspectives, this course addresses the transpersonal dimensions of somatic psychology theory and practice. Students will have the opportunity to explore the interaction between body processes and states of consciousness through a transpersonal psychological perspective.

Somatic Approaches to Trauma
Recent developments in traumatology have underscored the role of the body in mediating trauma, and re-conceptualizing trauma as an event occurring in the nervous system, affecting individual and social experience. This course will introduce students to somatically-oriented models of working with trauma, and to working with trauma through a psychobiological approach.

Body Narratives
This course introduces students to a selected approach to facilitating interactive body-dialogue that incorporates a client's posture, movements, and bodily experiences into psychotherapy. Students will learn to understand and work with body processes and narratives in the evolving context of the whole person, rather than as isolated physical events.

Embodied Group Process
The course provides students with a conceptual and experiential understanding of group process and group dynamics from a somatic perspective. By attending to the felt experience of the individual and group body, the developmental stages of groups, member behavior and roles, leadership styles, and diversity issues are illuminated.

Special Topics in Somatic Psychology
This course provides an opportunity for doctoral students to study with leading theorists, practitioners, and scholars in the field of somatic psychology. The focus of the course may include creative or innovative applications of somatic psychology, working with special populations, or interdisciplinary scholarship.

Clinical Skills in Somatic Psychology, I - IV
This course sequence offers students a structured and facilitated opportunity to integrate the material offered in the current year into a cohesive theoretical framework, and to practice applying their knowledge and skills in somatic psychology to a range of clinical and educational issues and contexts.

Independent Study in Somatic Psychology
Independent Study courses are based on professional training in somatic psychology taken through an approved training institution. Supplemental readings and a final writing assignment are required, in addition to documentation of training hours.