Core Competencies

Students in both degree concentrations take a series of core curriculum classes together. These include body-based and movement-oriented skills and theories courses, internship, clinical preparatory courses and licensure preparatory courses.

Each concentration also has several specialization classes in its own discipline. If a student is attending the program full-time, the curriculum for both degree programs is most frequently completed in three years.

Five Competency Areas

The Somatic Counseling Psychology program focuses on developing competency in the following five categories:

  • Theoretical Knowledge
  • Clinical Skill
  • Professional Identity
  • Diversity/Service
  • Contemplative Practice

Theoretical Knowledge imparts the theory and practice of dance/movement therapy and body psychotherapy. The theoretical portion focuses on the work of dance/movement therapists, somatic psychotherapists, traditional psychotherapists and body workers who have contributed to our understanding of how the body lives, heals and transforms.

It also exposes the student to the scientific underpinnings of somatic psychology, originating from the fields of biopsychology, neurology, neuropsychology and psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).

Also included in the category of theoretical knowledge is an emphasis on research, creative critical thinking, assessment and intervention. The observation, description and diagnosis of movement, beginning with self-evaluation and moving toward observation of others, provide the ground for assessment.

This area of study trains the student’s senses in the discernment of posture, gesture, movement patterns and impulses, and relates them to emotional, cognitive and attitudinal states where both individuals and group populations are concerned. 

Clinical Skill focuses on awareness training, embodied responsiveness, intuitive and empathic relating and active guidance through body-oriented movement interventions in the therapeutic encounter. Courses focus on the relationship between sensorimotor and psychological processes and the healing power of the creative process in movement.

Through a 700-hour clinical internship, students are trained to conceptualize client’s issues and concerns and facilitate appropriate interventions and treatment. During their internship, students will learn the vital skill of self-reflection through accurately observing, analyzing and assessing their work with their clients.

Professional Identity trains students to manifest and practice ethical and professional standards for the fields of counseling and either body psychotherapy or dance/movement therapy. In addition, students learn to accept and integrate supervision, self-supervise and be an effective member of a treatment team.

The department is committed to inspiring students to become contributing members of the profession who can educate and introduce the work to the world at large. As a means of cultivating professional identity, students will learn to internalize values that respect multiculturalism and sensitivity to populations and individuals different from themselves.

Diversity/Service focuses on the important skill of manifesting pluralism and multicultural competency as an integral part of clinical and professional practice. Courses are designed to prepare students to be of service to the underserved and disadvantaged members of their community and society. During the course of their studies, students will study and learn how to appreciate cultural, ethnic, gender and class differences in people’s experiences of their bodies and their movement patterns.

Contemplative Practice courses teach students how to use contemplative practices for personal and professional development and self-care, as well as be able to embed contemplative values and practices into their work as body psychotherapists or dance/movement therapists.

Courses develop personal clarity and self-acceptance, allowing students to practice moment-to-moment embodiment, compassion and discipline in therapeutic settings. Students are encouraged to engage in sitting meditation throughout their programs and to work with a meditation instructor during this entire time.