Our Somatic Bodywork Program is designed to facilitate the growth of highly skilled bodywork professionals. We offer everything one would expect in a bodywork program (e.g. massage theory and practice, human sciences, etc.), including a strong focus on personal and professional development as well as the development of relational skills.
A New Approach to Massage Therapy
To achieve the goal of promoting personal and professional development, we bring together knowledge and practices from bodywork, somatic psychology, affective neuroscience, and eastern contemplative practices, and we integrate these within a trauma-informed context. Our approach centers around several themes:
Client-centered: Being a bodyworker can be a lot like being a baker where one follows a particular recipe and arrives at a positive outcome. Following a recipe is often a great way to learn any new skill, but because a human client is far more complex than flour, sugar, and eggs, a better outcome for the client can be achieved by tossing out the recipe and customizing each session to best suit the client. This customizing occurs moment to moment throughout the session in response to the client’s responses.
Curiosity, Humility, and Listening: In order to be truly client-centered, we must let go of agendas, egos, and preconceived ideas of what the client needs and embrace an attitude of curiosity and humility, which allows us to truly listen to what the client needs. This listening happens with our ears, eyes, hands, and “hearts”.
Biopsychosocial (BPS): Our approach to working with clients gives equal consideration to the bio-psycho-social-spiritual components of a session. We are working with a whole person, not just a shoulder or myofascial tissue….and any physical issue may be influenced by psychological or social aspects of the client’s life, which may then become influenced by the physical issue. Touch is incredibly powerful, and touching the body becomes a doorway to the psyche and deeper aspects of the Self, while the psyche, in turn, determines how the body responds at each moment.
Our BPS approach also means that the effectiveness of any session is affected by how we relate verbally and nonverbally with the client, not just how we apply our touch.
Interoceptive: We care about our clients’ internal sense of feeling good more than an external arbitrary measure of looking good (e.g symmetrical or “balanced”). Our focus is to assist the client in feeling as good in their body as they can and feeling able to do the things they want to do, without limitation.
Neurocentric: As bodyworkers, we don’t change anatomy. We change the nervous system. We recognize that everything in a session, from how we touch to how we communicate to what beliefs and feelings the client brings to a session are all interacting within the nervous system to create the changes that occur in a session, whether these are changes in anxiety, pain, posture, embodiment, or movement. This means that the clients’ issues are probably not in their tissues, which profoundly changes how we engage with the client, manually and verbally. By moving away from a tissue-based approach, we are better able to serve the whole person.
Mindfulness: We consistently encourage the enhancement of somatic awareness as an important step towards repatterning ones cognitive, emotional, and behavioral habits, all of which becomes a bridge to Presence or Beingness. As a result, a bodywork session can become a somatic guided meditation–a meditation guided not by voice but by touch.
The integrated application of all of the above can bring about a reduction of negative symptoms, an increased sense of embodiment and aliveness, and can often go way beyond this by helping people re-connect with what really matters to them.
Each week offers a blend of personal growth opportunities, discussions, experiential anatomy, technique and session demonstrations, and both giving and receiving of Somatic Bodywork sessions. There is balanced time for personal inquiry and discovery, individually, in groups, and in paired exercises with Awareness practices, somatic skills practices, and bodywork.
Three Goals of the program
- Non-symptom specific to help support general well-being, embodiment, and easefulness in the body. As you experience novel sensory inputs and come into greater awareness of those somatic inputs, you may gain new access to parts of yourself and feel an increase in a general sense of well-being and functionality.
- Symptom-specific applications and approaches for injuries, rehabilitation, pain reduction, and increased function.
- Practitioner Cultivation. The body is a direct path to the psyche, and it’s a wonderful vehicle for creating new patterns. As the mind and heart clear, the body heals more easily, and often the reverse is true as well. Please be sure to read our page on Somatic Psychology, Affective Neuroscience, and Contemplative Practice for a more extensive description of this core element of our program.
Bodywork as Peacework
This program has been designed for the professional development of physically- and psychologically-oriented therapists, as well as personal healing, rediscovery, and celebration. In our program we work with the relationship between body, mind, heart, and spirit in a dynamic, and often profound, way.
While SB is a professional Massage Therapy Licensing Training, it is also a Life Enhancement program. Some of what can change has to do with healing, some with learning and more skillful choices, and some with simply coming to be with things as they are. From the perspective of the big picture, SB is an integrated program aimed at reducing suffering on the planet, increasing Peace, and helping to bring about a more joyous experience of Life.
At the core of our Being we can experience our essential qualities — Joy, Love, and Presenceful Peace. Through the use of therapeutic touch, heart-centered language skills, and the presence of the therapist and client, we can foster relaxation and healing and discover pathways into our deepest core. As we come to know our Self more fully, living from this knowing naturally occurs more easily and happily.
The biopsychosocial and neurocentric framework can further your effectiveness beyond most touch therapies alone because many client issues are patterned adaptations to a deeper issue (not a deeper tissue).
These tools are all utilized to help relieve suffering, reduce emotional pain and limitations, change patterns and beliefs, and open to the immediate experience of greater freedom now in the experiential recognition of the presence of awareness. Please note that the program is trauma-informed–please read about what that means here.