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Specialization in Somatic Psychology

The central principle of somatic psychology is that soma and psyche are inseparable. Simply put, our bodies are connected to our minds; our emotions and thoughts are inextricably intertwined with our sensory experience. Consequently, bodily experience must be actively included in therapeutic work.

The MA degree program in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Somatic Psychology provides unique professional training in psychotherapeutic practice from a body-oriented – that is, a – somatic perspective.

It is offered on the Pleasant Hill campus (with some classes on the Berkeley campus). It meets the educational requirements of the California Marriage and Family Therapist license.

The program offers a strong foundation in basic counseling theory and practice from a somatic perspective. It emphasizes experiential learning – learning by doing. How do personal attitudes become embodied in one’s posture? How do our beliefs express themselves through gesture and movement?

Students develop professional clinical skills of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment through a somatic lens. They learn to make contact with sensate experience, to recognize interruptions in sensorimotor development, to identify structural patterning, and to regulate heightened physiological states – both in themselves and their clients.

Movement seminars enable students to learn how to utilize movement and somatic awareness techniques to work through emotional blocks, allow tension patterns to unravel, and cultivate body-mind-spirit integration.

Courses focusing on trauma and stress negotiation provide students with the clinical understanding of hyperaroused physiological states, the importance of working within the “window of tolerance,” and practical Resourcing skills.

Students are encouraged to pursue a spiritual or somatic practice, e.g., meditation, yoga, dance, authentic movement, Tai Chi, Focusing, etc., as a foundation for their work with others.

As an integrative program, the JFK University somatic psychology program is informed by several disciplines, including attachment theory, psychodynamic and humanistic therapy models, prenatal psychology, neurodevelopmental and psychobiological perspectives, traumatology, psychoevolutionary theory, and ethology.

In addition to a core curriculum, the somatic program offers students the opportunity to explore contemporary schools of somatic psychology, such as neo-Reichian work, Hakomi, Bioenergetics, the Neuroaffective Relational Model, Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy, Family Constellation Work, Authentic Movement, Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and Psycho-Physical Therapy. For more information, contact the JFK University Office of Admissions at 844.890.6912 or email


The MA in Counseling Psychology with a Somatic Psychology specialization requires completion of 92 quarter units.

Core Curriculum (3 units)
CNS 5010 Paradigms of Consciousness (3 units)
SPC 5000 Introduction to Somatic Psychology Program [1] (0 units)

Somatic Psychology Specialization (19 units)
SPC 5220 Principles of Somatic Psychology [1] (3 units)
SPC 5241 The Cultural Body: Society, Body, Image, and the Self (2 units)
SPC 5430 Movement Seminar A: The Self in Movement (2 units)
SPC 5431 Movement Seminar B: Clinical Technique (3 units)
SPC 5512 Somatic Psychology Perspectives on Stress and Psychobioimmunology (2 units)
SPC 5612 Supervised Practica in Somatic Psychology [2] (3 units)
SPC 5620 Somatic Psychology Approaches to Trauma and PTSD A (2 units)
SPC 5621 Somatic Approaches to Trauma and PTSD B (2 units)

General Counseling (21 units)
SPC 5004 Group Process A [1] (2 units)
SPC 5005 Group Process B [1] (2 units)
SPC 5006 Group Process C (2 units)
SPC 5204 Diagnosis, Assessment and Therapeutic Strategy A (3 units)
SPC 5205 Diagnosis, Assessment and Therapeutic Strategy B (3 units)
SPC 5323 Therapeutic Communication A [1] (3 units)
SPC 5324 Therapeutic Communication B [1] (3 units)
SPC 5520 Psychopharmacology (3 units)

Marriage and Family Therapy (20 units)
SPC 5115 Cross-Cultural Issues in Counseling (3 units)
SPC 5216 Sexuality (2 units)
SPC 5250 Basic Addiction Studies (3 units)
SPC 5530 Psychological Testing (3 units)
SPC 5535 Individual Development and Family Life Cycle A [1] (3 units)
SPC 5536 Individual Development and Family Life Cycle B [1] (3 units)
SPC 5540 Child Therapy (3 units)

Courses Units (17 units)
HPC 5243 Community Mental Health and Principles of Recovery (3 units)
SPC 5551 Marriage and Family Counseling A (3 units)
SPC 5552 Marriage and Family Counseling B (3 units)
SPC 5631 Ethics and the Law (3 units)
SPC 5703 Clinical Skills: Partner and Spousal Abuse, Elder Care (2 units)
SPC 5705 Counseling Case Seminar (3 units)
SPC 9005 Personal Psychotherapy (0 units)
SPC 9015 Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting (0 units)

Field Placement (9 units)
HPC 5751 Field Placement A (3 units)
HPC 5752 Field Placement B (2 units)
HPC 5753 Field Placement C (2 units)
HPC 5754 Field Placement D (2 units)

Integrative Final Project (3 units)
SPC 5350 Integrative Final Project A (1 unit)
SPC 5351 Integrative Final Project B (1.5 units)
SPC 5351 Integrative Final Project Extension (0.5 unit)

[1] This requirement must be completed prior to year-end review.
[2] This course is a topics course (one-half unit per each election), and subsequent registrations count for additional credit. Somatic Psychology students are required to take a total of three units (four elections) of this course.