Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapies rely upon the use of breathing techniques, meditation and movement to treat physical or psychological disorders. Read on to learn more about this unique field of work, as well as what type of education and training you'll need to enter the field.

Is a Career as a Somatic Therapist for Me?

Career Overview

Somatic therapy is a holistic method of treatment in which breathing, meditation, movement and touch exercises are used to bring relief from physical or psychological disorders. These may include anxiety, depression or sexual difficulties. Somatic therapy can also be used to help patients manage stress and prevent health issues. Somatic therapists study how patients move and breathe, as well as how emotion and stress affect them on a physical level.

Somatic psychotherapists help patients achieve a balanced mind-body relationship. They believe that therapeutic changes cannot occur at just the psychological level, but must be anchored in the body through somatic experiences. Somatic psychotherapists try to engage their patients through both verbal and non-verbal exercises, such as dance and movement, that are designed to awaken the body and improve cognitive abilities.

Career Information

As a somatic therapist, you'll most likely work with patients who are developmentally, physically or psychologically impaired. Treatments typically take place in mental health centers, nursing homes or rehabilitation offices.

How Can I Become a Somatic Therapist?

Education

An undergraduate major in biology or psychology can help you prepare for a specialized master's degree program that reflects your area of special interest. For example, if you're interested in dance therapy, you may want to choose a program that has been approved by the American Dance Therapy Association. Another option would be to pursue a Master of Arts in Somatic Counseling Psychology. Program emphasis is on physical capabilities and processes in relationship to psychotherapy, and your course load may include topics in biological and behavioral science, body psychotherapy or dance and movement therapy.

Required Skills

As a somatic therapist, you should have a strong desire to help others. You should also be patient and determined, especially when working with patients over an extended period of time.

Certification

Professional certifications are available through the U.S. Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP) and the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). Upon graduation from the latter, you'll receive your Registered Dance Movement Therapy (R-DMT) credential. Once you've acquired some experience n the field, you may also pursue the more advanced Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT) credential.

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