Our regular and guest faculty exemplify the best of embodied therapeutic practitioners. This section explains the deeper meaning of somatic practice and introduces the main approaches we bring to our clinical work.
Somatics is a general term that refers to the broadest set of practices that integrate the awareness of our internal sensations, body structure and movement, emotions, thoughts and identities into a unified approach to personal transformation. Going beyond the simple reference to soma, somatics share the common notion that our bodies and minds are integrated into a body-mind system. Somatic practitioners work from the perspective that while we live in our bodies, our bodies exist in contexts that are larger, relational and influential.
And context is consequential. The contexts of our lives have immediate and substantial impact on the way we experience ourselves as people. That is to say, the historical, cultural, social, familial and relational contexts condition the way we experience ourselves and influence how we interpret the world around us. Add the social forces of gender, race and class and we identify the primary influences on the development of our personal identities. The weight of these factors takes its toll on our body-mind system.
By making the larger contextual factors explicit and proper objects to consider, somatics fosters not only the potential for personal transformation, but also for social transformation. Not by setting a political agenda, but by recognizing that the larger body politic affects the personal politics of everyday life. And that can be felt in the body and reflected on through the mind. To be successful, psychotherapy must address the implicit information held in the body along with the beliefs that reinforce it.
Body psychotherapy approaches both the implicit messages from the body and explicit beliefs by bringing the body back into the psychotherapeutic process. Body psychotherapists share the fundamental assumption that the body-mind system forms the whole human being and that by observing the body in the present moment, we can gain access to the lifetime of experience it expresses but cannot articulate with words. Relational body psychotherapy goes further to suggest that the relational field during psychotherapy sessions shifts the dynamics from two bodies interacting with each other to a single energetic body formed through the interaction between the two. This relational dynamic provides a comprehensive approach to exploring the body-mind system.