Somatic Psychology

The following are excerpts from the Somatic Psychology program websites of John F. Kennedy University and The California Institute of Integral Studies:

[From]: From a somatic perspective, life experiences are embodied experiences; breath styles, movement patterns, musculature tensions, cognitive style, emotional expression, and relational patterns are shaped by and express past and present whole-body experiences.

Somatic Psychology incorporates the body into its psychological investigations, considering bodily states of consciousness, postures and gestures, muscular patterns, chronic contractions and tensions, movement range and shapes, ways of breathing, skin and color tones, somatic habits, energetic qualities, use of space, and body pulsations and rhythms as a potential part of the therapy process.

Enormous psychological, social, cultural and political forces support the splitting and fragmentation of mindbody unity. As we know, these pressures take a considerable toll on the mental, biological, and relational health of each of us. [Somatic Psychologists] are interested in the personal and social practices and policy transformations necessary to alleviate these stresses.

[From]: Somatic Psychotherapies combine traditional approaches to counseling, including dream work, talk, interpretation, and reflection, with experiential explorations. The underlying insight in somatic psychotherapies is that we enact self-feeling, identity, and connection with others through bodily means. We reach out or pull away, are warm or cold to people, are emotional or restricted in our feelings.

Through our development in families and communities, we construct embodied patterns of feeling, sensation, expression, movement, and emotion through which we know ourselves and make relationships in the world.

Work, play, and other engagements with the world are also enacted through the development of varying muscular states, emotional and feeling capabilities, and ranges of movement.

Somatic psychotherapists are trained to help clients explore the bodily means by which they conduct their daily lives. Through the use of breath work; movement exercises; touch; and explorations of feeling, sensation, posture, gesture, and expression, clients experience how they shape particular identities and interact with others.

For Somatic psychotherapists these explorations of clients’ patterns of bodily comportment and the explorations of new means of enactment are useful tools in the development of self-awareness and satisfaction in living.

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