The Field of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy has developed over the last century through a process of inquiry into how consciousness inhabits the living body.

The term is derived from the word somatic (Greek “somatikos”, soma: “living, aware, bodily person”) which means pertaining to the body, experienced and regulated from within.


What it is

According to Thomas Hanna who first coined the phrase, somatics is the study of self from the perspective of one’s lived experience, encompassing the dimensions of body, psyche, and spirit.

The field of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy represents a variety of approaches to the process of awakening awareness of the human body, or soma, in movement.


In addition to movement, this transformational learning process can include sound, breath, touch and imagery.

Registered practitioners guide individuals and groups into inner experiences of their bodies, deepening the clients’ understanding of themselves in motion.

Its purpose

To enhance human function and body-mind integration through movement awareness.

This profession encompasses distinct disciplines each with its own educational or therapeutic emphasis, principles, methods, and techniques.

The practice

Postural and movement evaluation

Experiential anatomy and imagery

 Movement patterning and re-patterning

Movement patterning and re-patterning

 Communication and guidance through touch and verbal cues

Communication and guidance through touch and verbal cues



Each modality helps students and clients in some way to:

  • Focus on the body both as an objective physical process and as a subjective process of lived consciousness;
  • Refine perceptual, kinesthetic, proprioceptive, and enteroceptive sensitivity that supports homeostasis and self-regulation;
  • Recognize habitual patterns of perceptual, postural and movement interaction with the environment;
  • Improve movement coordination that supports structural, functional and expressive integration;
  • Experience an embodied sense of vitality and create both meaning for and enjoyment of life.


Somatic movement education and therapy is applied to both pedestrian and specialized activities for people in all stages of health and development. This work can be communicated either on an individual basis or with groups.



The descriptions and scope of practice outlined above are derived from the ISMETA (International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association) website. For further information, please visit: