The Somatic Psychology curriculum has the following three objectives:

  • To develop skills sufficient to serve as professional psychotherapists and counselors at the MA level.
  • To gain a broad and deep knowledge of the scholarship assocaited with counseling and psychotherapy theories and approaches.
  • To integrate significant personal growth in the context of the program and will commit to personal development for effective self-use in clinical practice.
  • To actively engage in an exploration of their own social attitudes and beliefs, seek to understand differences and their attending power dynamics, and develop competencies in applying diversity sensitivity to their clinical practice.
  • To gain a broad and deep knowledge of the scholarship associated with the field of Somatic Psychology, including an understanding of historical and contemporary issues, theories, and approaches. 
  • To gain an in-depth understanding and capacity to apply Somatic Psychology theory to the clinical practice of Somatic Psychotherapy.

The Somatic Psychology curriculum provides students with a firm understanding of the theories, strategies, and transformational attitudes that are basic to psychotherapy.

Coursework combines didactic and experiential modes of learning. In addition to traditional forms of assessment, the program teaches assessment of individual and family and group dynamics through the observation of body movement and nonverbal communication. Students learn both verbal and body-based methods of intervention to facilitate change for those in therapy.

Basic courses focus on the field of psychotherapy, with a strong emphasis on developmental theory, family-systems theory and practice, sociocultural and psychodynamic approaches. Students learn how to help clients develop personal and community resources. Coursework throughout the Somatic Psychology program includes the study of a range of psychodynamic approaches including drive theory, object relations, self-psychology, Jungian, intersubjective, and relational theories.

Students study family systems perspectives, and contemporary understandings of attachment and affect. The curriculum includes the study of issues of cultural diversity, poverty, gender, sexual diversity, spirituality, and work.

Students are introduced to various body-oriented approaches to psychotherapy, and the cultivation of body/psyche in a variety of non-Western modalities is also explored. The Somatic Psychology curriculum includes a carefully supervised practicum counseling experience. Students may apply for training at the Center for Somatic Psychotherapy, which is a counseling center devoted to practicing body-oriented psychotherapy.

Students at other practicum sites are supervised by program-approved supervisors. The program emphasizes the appropriate use of movement, bodily awareness, visualization, and touch in psychotherapy. During their enrollment in the program, students must complete 50 hours of personal somatic psychotherapy. The program maintains a referral base of approved and licensed somatic psychotherapists who work in the Bay Area.


The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the academic requirements for the California Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license. Sixty (60) semester units are required for graduation, 6 of which must be in a field placement that meets the guidelines of California Board of Behavioral Sciences examiners.

Board guidelines also stipulate that there must be a minimum of 12 units in courses explicitly related to family therapy covering the topic areas specified by law (Section 4980.40).

Additional professional requirements include classes in psychopathology, substance dependency, professional ethics and the law, and cross-cultural counseling. While states differ in their licensure requirements, it has been our experience that California requirements overlap those of other states.


Two-and-One-Half-Year Sequence

Fall I
MCPS 5201 Human Development and the Family 3 units
MCPS 5604 Group Dynamics 2 units
SOM 5201 The Body: Experienced, Conceptualized, and Verbalized 3 units
SOM 5607 Movement Approaches in Somatic Psychotherapy 2 units
Total Units 10 units

Summer I
*MCP 5101 Professional Ethics and Family Law 2 units
*MCP 6102 Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Counseling 1 unit
*MCP 5603 Psychopathology 3 units
Total Units 6 units

Spring I
MCPS 5501 Psychodynamics 3 units
MCPS 5605 Family Dynamics and Therapy 3 units
MCPS 5610 Therapeutic Communication 2 units
MCPSL 5610 Therapeutic Communication Lab 1 unit
Total Units 9 units

Fall II
SOM 6638 Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychotherapy II 3 units
MCPS 6601 Marriage and Couples Counseling 3 units
SOM 8888 Somatics Elective (number of units may vary) 1–3 units
*MCPS 6401 Research Methods 3 units
*Workshop Spousal/Partner Abuse Assessment (15 hours, 0 units) 0 units
Total Units 10–12 units

Spring II
SOM 6639 Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychotherapy III 3 units
SOM 6201 Somatics, Society, and Culture 3 units
SOM 8888 Somatics Elective (number of units may vary) 3 units
MCPS 7601 Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual 2 units
Total Units 9-11 units

Summer II
MCPS 7601 Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual 2 units
*MCP 6502 Child Therapy 2 units
*MCP 6103 Cross-Cultural Counseling and the Family 2 units
Total Units 6 units

Fall III
MCPS 5602 The Clinical Relationship 2 units
MCPS 7601 Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual 2 units
SOM 7701 Integrative Seminar 3 units
Total Units 7 units

*Starred classes may be taken in any order based on preference and availability. The sequencing of your curriculum must be agreed upon in consultation with your advisor. Please note that Professional Ethics and Family Law (MCP 5101) and Psychopathology (MCP 5603) must be taken prior to enrolling in Practicum.

A minimum of one Somatic Psychology elective must be taken. Somatics electives should be selected in consultation with your academic advisor.


Required Courses

MCP 5101: Professional Ethics and Family Law (2 units)
Ethical standards for the practice of counseling and psychology. Review and discussion of ethical and legal aspects of marriage and family therapy and practice.

MCP 5603: Psychopathology (3 units)
Comparative historical and contemporary views of the development of adult psychopathology and the categorization system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

MCP 6102: Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Counseling (1 unit)
Survey of current treatment approaches to chemical dependency and examination of
humanist-transpersonal perspectives.

MCP 6103: Cross-Cultural Counseling and the Family (2 units)
This course provides an overview of cross-cultural counseling through exploration of ethnic, social, and cultural mores and values of representative social groups and special populations.

MCP 6502: Child Therapy (2 units)
Techniques to remedy or prevent problems in children and their families. Case material introduces strategies of intervention.

MCPS 5201: Human Development and the Family (3 units)
Theories and research in life transitions, stages of development, and rites of passage, from prenatal conditions through adult experience to dying are explored from both theoretical and embodied studies. Students work individually and in groups exploring the entire lifespan, looking at both familial and social and cultural influences on development.

MCPS 5501: Psychodynamics (3 units)
Presents a history of psychodynamic ideas and their application in clinical settings. Offers a historical perspective, beginning with drive theory through the development of relational theory. Covers basic theoretical and clinical concepts; clinical theories about the self and self-development; and the topics of transference, countertransference, and defense. Examines relationships between psychodynamic and other clinical theories from both traditional and embodied stances.

MCPS 5602: The Clinical Relationship (2 units)
The relationship between therapist and client is one of the central concerns of contemporary theories of therapeutic change. This course explores the relationship between therapist and client from the perspectives of contemporary psychoanalysis, humanism, and self-psychology. Provides various perspectives on transference and countertransference, and on working with these dynamics in the clinical setting.

MCPS 5604: Group Dynamics (2 units)
Review of basic theories of group process. Exploration of group process through group interaction, didactic analysis, and synthesis.

MCPS 5605: Family Dynamics and Therapy (3 units)
Covers the family life cycle, as well as the theories and methods of many of the major family theories, including strategic, brief strategic, systemic, narrative, solution-focused, family of origin, structural, and symbolic-experiential family therapy. Includes experiential learning processes and instructor-demonstrated family of origin interviews.

MCPS 5610: Therapeutic Communication (2 units)
This course provides an overview of key concepts and methods in therapeutic communication, integrating psychodynamic, humanistic, and other approaches. Experiential portion includes role-play and simulations.
Co-requisite: MCPSL 5610

MCPSL 5610: Therapeutic Communication Lab (1 unit)
The experiential portion of Therapeutic Communication.
Co-requisite: MCPS 5610

MCPS 6401: Research Methods (3 units)
Overview of research methodologies with special focus on qualitative approaches, comparative ways of knowing, and the creation of an integral inquiry research project.

MCPS 6601: Marriage and Couples Counseling (3 units)
Theoretical and therapeutic approaches to working with couples, including object relations, ego analytic, cognitive-behavioral, existential, and transpersonal perspectives, as well as family-systems approaches. Students learn how to integrate the use of visual arts, music, movement, drama, and the language arts with these different theoretical approaches.

MCPS 7601: Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual (2 units)
Presentation and discussion of case material. Emphases upon case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, and the development of clinical skills.

MCPS 7602: Supervised Clinical Practicum: Group (2 units)
Presentation and discussion of case material in a small-group setting. Emphases upon case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, and the development of clinical skills.

MCPS 7603: Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual (3 units)
Practicum for students working in schools as their field placement site. Presentation and discussion of case material. Emphases upon case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, and the development of clinical skills.

SOM 5201: The Body: Experienced, Conceptualized, and Verbalized (3 units)
This course is an introduction to methods for navigating the dialectic between one’s experiences of the body and ideas about the body learned in one’s history. It is a basic introduction to the use of embodied experience and body maps to further one’s capacities for self-development. The course includes an introduction to the work of some of the early founders of the field of Somatics.

SOM 5607: Movement Approaches in Somatic Psychotherapy (2 units)
This course teaches the use of movement approaches such as authentic movement, dance therapy, and contact improvisation in the context of psychological theory and practice. Each instructor emphasizes specific approaches.

SOM 6201: Somatics, Society, and Culture (3 units)
A study of how individual bodies, as well as individual experiences of the body, are shaped from infancy by major social institutions (education, medicine, religion, science, the media, etc.), and how that shaping process anchors the power of those institutions in our perceptions and emotional responses to authority. Focuses on how people are coaxed to neglect the sources of wisdom and decision making within the social body, and to give authority to publicly designated experts and authorities. Particular attention is given to the question “What does it mean to be a somatic therapist or educator in a world characterized by widespread abuse of both the personal and political body?”

SOM 6638: Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychotherapy II (3 units)
This is the second of a series of three courses that focus on various theories and techniques in psychotherapy. This course deals with a variety of approaches, such as Hakomi, Lomi, and other techniques. It teaches careful understanding of transference, countertransference, and attunement in the application of somatic and other experiential exercises in the practice of psychotherapy.
Prerequisite: MCPS 5610

SOM 6639: Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychotherapy III (3 units)
Following Therapeutic Communications and Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychotherapy, this is the third in a series of three courses focusing on various approaches to psychotherapy from a somatic perspective. This course deals with energetic and character analytic approaches in psychotherapy. It introduces the work of Wilhelm Reich and derivative therapies that have been influenced by his work. The course also discusses the energetic care of the human being before birth, through the birthing process, and into adulthood. Students study and work experientially with observation, breath, movement, and sound in psychotherapy and in personal growth.
Prerequisites: MCPS 5610 and SOM 6638

SOM 7701: Integrative Seminar (3 units)
This course is the final class that students take in the program. The course emphasizes the integration of somatic and other clinical approaches. Theoretical understandings of clinical applications are focused upon, and skills such as observation, diagnosis, treatment planning, and intervention are underscored and further developed. Students write a final paper and do a presentation on the theme “Toward a Theory and Practice of Somatic Psychotherapy.”


MCP 5105: Psychopharmacology (2 units)
Study of the range of current psychopharmacological interventions in terms of mental disorder diagnostic categories, including antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. Neurobiological mechanisms of mental disorders are reviewed in terms of current research. Interaction of psychopharmacological
and psychotherapeutic interventions is discussed, including medication response and side effects.

MCP 6201: Psychological Assessment (2 units)
A survey of the clinical process of testing. Students clinically analyze and interpret assessment instruments, including diagnostic tests.

MCP 7603 Pre-/Post-Practicum (0 units)
Required of MFT trainees who wish to accrue hours toward licensure and who are not enrolled in SupervisedClinical Practicum (either Individual or Group).

SOM 5001: Neuroscience, Body Image, and Culture (2 units)
This course focuses on the role of the neural, neural-hormonal, and neuromuscular systems in experiences such as arousal, stress, and movement. In this class, emotions, feelings, and self-images are explored as multilevel patterns of biological activity. The course analyzes ways in which family and other social organizations influence and impact neural excitatory activities, and explores the implications of these understandings for somatic education and therapies.

SOM 5606: Gestalt Therapy (1 unit)
Gestalt therapy will be presented as an adjunct to existential philosophy and therapy, and as a natural reflection of humanities psychology. The elements of Gestalt therapy will be demonstrated—i.e., contact boundaries, awareness, figure formation, the Gestalt theory of neurosis, and disturbances at the boundaries. The primary emphasis will be on working in the “here and now” with a process-oriented focus.

SOM 6103: Advanced Cross-Cultural Approaches to Identity, Affect, and Body Movement (2 units)
An analysis of how both the human body and body images are shaped not only by biological and psychological factors, but also by forms peculiar to a given culture: its ideal bodies, child-bearing and child-rearing practices, metapolitical and religious practices, and so on. This course looks at how these cultural factors can provide the basis for either oppression or healing. Emphasis is on the major cultures that shape the California population: European, Hispanic, African, Native American, and Asian.

SOM 6604: Somatic and Experiential Psychotherapy with Couples (1 unit)
This course teaches practical, experiential approaches to work with couples. It gives concrete examples and provides the theoretical background for somatically based interventions in couples therapy.

SOM 6632: Somatic Approaches to Adolescent Psychotherapy (2 units)
This course focuses on the multiple ways in which adolescence is developmentally different from infancy and from early, middle, and late childhood. It explores the embodied social and moral challenges of this developmental time, and develops clinical skills for working with this population.

SOM 6709: Phenomenology of the Body (3 units)
In this course, we will continue in the heritage of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who articulated the crucial importance of a turn toward direct bodily experience as a primal corrective to the dissociated mentalities that are ravaging the planet and dividing communities.

SOM 6717: Somatics Research Seminar (1 unit)
Students work with faculty in faculty-supervised research.

SOM 6721: Queer Bodies in Psychotherapy (2 units)
This course examines the ways in which queer identities, confusions, and enactments have been (dis)articulated and (mis)handled in various psychotherapy practices. Concrete alternatives to these approaches are offered. The embodiment of gender is explored through experiential exercises; and academic theories of gender and sexual development, with a focus on postmodern, somatic, and feminist theories, are employed.

SOM 8602: Somatic Approaches to Emotional Expression (1 unit)
A hands-on class in analytic somatic therapy. Through lecture, demonstration, and dyad work, students are taught techniques for reading the energetic body field and exercises to assist in grounding, boundaries, unrestricted breath, and range of emotion.

SOM 8799: Independent Study (1–3 units)
Coursework that extends a student’s field of inquiry beyond current CIIS courses. Requires a syllabus and contract signed by the student and faculty member, and approved by the program chair.

SOM 8888: Special Topics (1–3 units)
A course of study not currently encompassed in the curriculum but relevant to evolving topics of growing importance in Somatics and Somatic Psychotherapy.

SOM 8888: Special Topics: Principles of Somatic Psychotherapy (1 unit)
This course provides incoming students with an overview of Somatic Psychotherapy. Schools of thought and practice are traced, and the use of somatics with other modalities of practice is discussed. Open only to first semester Somatic Psychology students.

SOM 8888: Special Topics: Somatic Approaches to Trauma (1 unit)
This course provides an overview of somatic approaches to trauma. Major theorists and approaches using somatic approaches to trauma are discussed. This course is taken in conjunction with Theories and Techniques of Somatic Psychology III and is open to Somatic Psychology students only.

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