California Institute of Integral Studies
M.A. in Counseling Psychology, Somatic Psychology Concentration

Contact:   Mark Ludwig, LCSW

Chair:       Theresa Silow, PhD, LPCC

Somatic Psychology Graduate Programs

One of the founding programs in body-oriented psychotherapy in the U.S., the M.A. in Counseling Psychology/Somatic Concentration, at California Institute of Integral Studies is a professional graduate education in psychotherapeutic practice from an integrative, whole-person model. The program prepares students to use both conventional and body-oriented approaches to psychotherapy. Since its inception in 1980, the Somatic Psychology program has developed a unique learning environment that combines experiential work, rigorous academics, research, and a deep commitment to community.

Students participate in a vibrant academic community where learning includes both didactic and experiential practices leading to the ability to work with clientsclass holistically and effectively. After completing the program and other Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) requirements for licensure, graduates are prepared to apply for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in California once the required number of supervised clinical hours are met.

The program teaches a developmental sociocultural perspective that explores how embodied affect, expression, identity, and interaction are formed both in families and in communities of participation outside of the family of origin.

The program also offers an environment of rigorous intellectual inquiry. Students are asked to develop a reflective approach to counseling psychology that includes skills in collaborative learning, knowledge of evidence-based approaches to psychotherapy, and a broad understanding of individual and family systems approaches to psychotherapy.

Throughout the program, students write papers and present projects to hone their thinking, writing, and presentation skills. Faculty and students make presentations at national and international conferences concerned with body-oriented psychotherapy, the social sciences, and various aspects of somatics theory and practice.

Under the leadership of Professor Don Hanlon Johnson, the program has undertaken a publishing program that has to date produced three books in the field in collaboration with North Atlantic Books: Bone, Breath and Gesture; Groundworks: Narratives of Embodiment; and The Body in Psychotherapy: Inquiries in Somatic Psychology.

In the program’s Center for the Study of the Body in Psychotherapy, Somatic Psychology program faculty and students have conducted research regarding sexual identities and enactments, multicultural understandings of identity and interaction, and early childhood approaches using somatic interventions with infants and parents.

Students in the program have completed practicum training in a variety of settings including city government, homeless outreach programs, work in prisons, and work participation in various agencies dealing specifically with children’s and women’s issues and addictions.

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Highlights of the Program:

  • One of a very few programs in the world which integrates the study of the body, somatic self-experience, and psycho-emotional processes in daily life and in the practice of psychotherapy
  • Provides students with the traditional clinical skills of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from the perspective of body-mind integration. The program prepares graduates to apply for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) in California.
  • Curriculum is informed by several disciplines in the applied human and natural sciences including somatics, attachment theory, psychodynamic and humanistic therapy models; neuro-developmental and psycho-biological perspectives; traumatology; eco-psychology; psycho-evolutionary theory; ethology; the study of non and pre-verbal communication, and relational therapy theory.
  • Multicultural and diverse perspectives are integrated into all classes.
  • Offers intensive academic and experiential courses that support diverse personal styles of learning coupled with the most exciting new research available in the field. In addition to the in-depth Counseling Psychology curriculum, students become familiar through an integrated curriculum with all the foundational concepts and practices of the contemporary schools of Somatic Psychology.
  • Students complete practicum training in a variety of settings including CIIS Center for Somatic Psychotherapy, city government, homeless outreach programs, work in prisons, and work participation in various agencies dealing specifically with children’s and women’s issues and addictions.
  • All courses instructors in this program are active, somatic psychotherapy professionals in current clinical practice or writers and theorists of the body.

Students graduate as fully competent practitioners of one of the newest and most innovative approaches to psychotherapy.