Somatic Psychotherapy: An Introduction
Online Course Materials: Articles Audios Articles
Developed by Nick Walker, Ph.D.
This course is also offered as part of a Somatics & Touch Package of 19 CE Credit Hours.
General Course Description
This groundbreaking and inspiring course gives the reader an understanding of somatic psychotherapy, and of the huge potential for this powerful work to make a difference in a culture riddled with trauma. The obsession of the United States with personal space, combined with a sexualization of most forms of touch, leaves many people devoid of healthy touch that can help people heal from the many traumas of our time. Somatic psychotherapy is a body-based approach to therapeutic and spiritual work that can reach areas not always affected by talk therapy. For instance, a person with abuse trauma may intellectually understand that he or she is not at fault and is deserving of happiness and fulfillment; but until that person releases tension and protective holding in his or her own body, that pain will stick throughout a lifetime.
Somatic psychotherapists reject mind-body dualism. Instead, the mind and body are seen as intertwined in a continuous feedback loop. One can and does affect the other, at all times. While there are many branches of somatic psychotherapy, all of them approach the body as a continually evolving entity, with much to teach about the desires and distresses of the human psyche.
This introductory course is appropriate for practitioners of all levels of experience. It includes one audio recording, eight articles and a resources page. In the first section, an audio recording by Nick Walker (transcript provided), and articles by Dr. Christine Caldwell and Dr. Ian Grand orient the reader to somatic psychotherapy with discussion of the place of somatic psychotherapy among other modalities, basic tenets of the field, and how somatic psychotherapy works in practice, via fascinating and unique case studies. This section shows clearly how a somatic orientation and approach can reach areas not usually addressed by other modalities. In the second section, an article by Dr. Don Hanlon Johnson gives us background on experiential practices in somatic psychotherapy and their underlying principles, and an article by Dr. Christine Caldwell gives us engaging contextual information for using touch to heal and develop. In the third section, articles by Dr. Christine Caldwell, Roz Carroll, and Dr. Ian Grand discuss the cultural body; how the body behaves with feelings, the functioning of feedback loops, and allowing the body to express itself as a mode of healing. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
“I don’t think it is too far fetched a statement that most of our emotional dissatisfactions stem from the inability of persons, for whatever reasons, to follow the promptings of their own organism in its ongoing desire to shape itself anew.”
Dr. Ian Grand, The Marvelous in the Real
Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope. It also does not serve as a permission to title yourself in any specific way.
- This course will teach the participant to
- Identify the underlying principles of somatic psychotherapy.
- Recommend somatic psychotherapy for some presenting issues.
- Explain the importance of touch for human development.
- Summarize the social rules of touch.
- Compare the difference between chronic and acute symptoms.
- Describe the major source of people’s dissatisfaction from a somatic psychotherapy perspective.
- Evaluate the potential for somatic psychotherapy to affect trauma.
- The place of somatic psychotherapy among other modalities
- Somatic approach to trauma
- Somatic understanding of the psyche
- Basic tenets of somatic psychotherapy
- Case studies
- The social rules of touch
- Consequences of life without enough loving touch
- Psychotherapists’ reasons for avoiding touch
- How to use touch effectively and ethically in therapy
- Somatic approach to trauma
- How the body holds feelings
- Feedback loops – open and closed