The CIIS PhD emphasis in Somatic Psychology is a unique doctoral program that approaches psychology from the lived experience of being human, and then invites in scientific rigor as an ally in building a more insightful, effective psychology of the living person. Somatic Psychology is at the heart of mind-body research, and on the frontier of exploration into embodied consciousness. Here the living body is the seat of consciousness, and mind is the intelligence of the whole embodied person, woven from and into the fabric of a vibrant world. Entering the body, a world opens up that speaks in multitudes of texture and shades of aliveness, with contours of vitality and tangible presence—nuances that the intellect can only speculate about from an external perspective.
The curriculum also considers how embodiment awakens empathy for the environment, how the body holds personal and collective trauma, and how early attachment patterns and socioeconomic contexts can be embedded in and expressed through the body. When mind and body are reconnected in a scientific context, powerful opportunities emerge for new ways to embody a more just world, promote sustainability, and cultivate human healing.
This course of study is situated within the Integral and Transpersonal Psychology PhD, which focuses on whole-person approaches to research and systematic knowledge-building. Whole-person psychologies expand the horizons of psychology to include the body’s ways of knowing and moving as an expression of the interconnected living, breathing systems of community, society, and world. From this perspective, it becomes possible to ask new and compelling research questions that lie close to the heart of what it is to be human. The future of whole person psychology lies in what the body knows.
As part of the ITP PhD degree, the Somatic Psychology emphasis focuses on research and systematic, scientific knowledge building. The program aims to make early inroads into investigating the results of somatic practices for various improvements in human consciousness and the wellbeing of individuals and communities. In integral and transpersonal psychology, the methods of science are applied to the study of the whole person, fully embodied, embedded in community, and engaged with the world, but it also represents a re-visioning of the scientific process. In somatics and somatic psychology, research may include everything from innovative ways to research the richness of lived experience to measuring neural responses with EEG. Yet it is crucial to recognize that research in somatics and somatic psychology are entering a pioneering phase, where the challenges of initial work need to be squarely faced; new methods will need to be created where the more refined protocols of existing research approaches cannot be applied.
This online research-oriented degree is well suited for professionals who want to advance their education and contribute to development of somatic psychology and somatics. It is designed for scholars and practitioners who have long-established practices in a transformative body practice such as Biosynthesis, Bodynamics, Hakomi, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Authentic Movement, Body-Mind Centering, Craniosacral Therapy, Continuum, Feldenkrais, hatha yoga, massage, Rolfing (just to name a few) —and who want to develop new kinds of knowledge that emerge from these practices.
The degree does not lead to clinical licensure, but does offer training for students who want to do pioneering research in embodied consciousness, mind-body practices, somatic training for athletes, whole person approaches to personal development and healing, and many other facets of somatic psychology. As such, the doctoral training offers enhanced expertise and credentials for practitioners who are already clinically licensed, and for those who may wish to teach in public or academic contexts.