From the Greek word “soma” or living body, somatic psychology understands the body as the foundation upon which all human experience is based. As an emerging specialization within clinical psychology, somatic psychology focuses on how embodied experience serves as an important but often neglected source of knowledge and insight into psychological concerns and interpersonal issues.
Somatic psychotherapy incorporates a skillful attention to breath, gesture, muscle tone, and sensation into the process of psychotherapy. By attending to the nonverbal felt experience of the client, somatic psychotherapists help clients to “get in touch” with important psychological or emotional material that had previously been inaccessible through words alone. Focusing on embodied experience in the present moment also allows somatic psychotherapists to facilitate the expression and integration of material that addresses all aspects of a problem or issue – including how that issue may have become embedded in the nervous system, muscle tissue, movement patterns, and bodily habits of the client.
Over the past 70 years, the field of somatic psychology has diversified into a range of psychotherapeutic approaches from psychodynamic, humanistic, transpersonal, and postmodern orientations, with practitioners and training programs around the globe. Established modalities include Bioenergetics, Rubenfeld Synergy, Focusing, Hakomi, Biosynthesis, Integrative Body Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Core Evolution and Dance/Movement Therapy.
Somatic psychotherapy is suited to both group and individual formats, and has been found effective in working with a wide range of clinical issues and populations.
Somatic Psychology Training at Meridian University
The Somatic Psychology Concentration at Meridian University is infused with the perspectives, approaches, and learning environments unique to Meridian. In addition to receiving a solid foundation in clinical and somatic psychology, students who earn a PhD with a Somatic Psychology Concentration can expect an enhanced focus on depth psychology and the expressive arts, as well as a significant commitment to diversity work and critical cultural praxis.