Somatic: Body Psychotherapy Students in Class

Somatic Counseling: Body Psychotherapy

How does the body help the mind to grow and develop? How does the mind influence how we experience and live in our bodies? Can the body help heal the mind? And vice versa? As a student in the Somatic Counseling program, you will explore these complex questions.


The Body Psychotherapy concentration delves deeply into the history of the use of the body in counseling and psychotherapy as well as the current explorations in the field of mental health that are recognizing the critical importance of the body/mind connection in healing, learning, and growth. As one of the first universities to establish a graduate somatic counseling program, we offer a rich and rigorous curriculum in which you will holistically explore—and experience—how the body can be used to help people transform.

As a Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s degree student with a concentration in Body Psychotherapy, you will combine the study of clinical mental health theory and practice with work in body psychotherapy. The program places great value and importance on exploring both the current understanding of multicultural competence and the historical impact on the bodies that are present in counseling. Cultural identities, power, and privilege are critical lenses for us to explore the ethical work with differences that are embodied in ourselves and the clients we work with as Somatic Counselors.

Through your studies in Somatic Body Psychotherapy, you will learn to use mindfulness training, breathwork, interceptive awareness, and other somatic techniques to help others ease suffering, support mental health, and sustain change for improved living. Naropa’s Body Psychotherapy concentration takes a very broad view of the ways that the body/mind connection in psychotherapy have been used and are being applied. This program finds some of its strength in not being dogmatically attached to any particular somatic lineage, while giving a unique solid grounding in the practice of being somatically informed as a counselor.

From this rigorous background, alumni from Naropa’s Somatic Body Psychotherapy concentration program go on to forge meaningful lives as individual and family therapists, group counselors, business trainers, mental health leaders and innovators, teachers, and writers, among other career paths.

It is possible for a student graduating from the Somatic Counseling Department to use coursework to fulfill the requirements for the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association’s (ISMETA) certification as a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and/or Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME). 

Students learning in the classroom


Complete 815 hours, a 115-hour practicum and 700-hour clinical internship working in the community.


Three Years

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s degree program with a concentration in Somatic Counseling: Body Psychotherapy is a 60-credit-hour, three-year cohort program that combines theoretical studies, 30 hours of your own psychotherapy along with the development of clinical and mindfulness skills to prepare you to become a psychotherapist grounded in the integration of mind, body, and movement.


  • Students becoming counselors
    Naropa Community Counseling Center

    Provide somatic counseling to community members in your third year of graduate study as an intern at the Naropa Community Counseling Center. The center offers contemplative and mindful healing services to Boulder-area residents on a sliding fee scale.

  • Somatic Arts Auction
    Somatic Arts Scholarship Concert and Art Auction

    Participate in the student-directed Somatic Arts Scholarship Concert and Art Auction, which not only gives you the opportunity to showcase the therapeutic and creative potential of embodied performance, but also raises money for the Somatic Counseling Scholarship Fund.


Students learning in the classroom

Alumni Spotlight

“I feel incredible! I have dreamed of working as a body psychotherapist with children for as long as I can remember. The richness of the material has astounded me, especially the focus on diversity and inclusion. I feel like I am shifting every day from the program and the school, and through my personal shifts I will have more ways to affect positive change in the world.”

— Keira Cristobal
Body Psychotherapy, class of 2017



Somatic Counseling: Body Psychotherapy Classes

  • Counseling Relationships I: Verbal and Nonverbal Skills in Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Body/Movement Observation and Assessment
  • The Body in Meditation and Psychotherapy
  • Clinical Neuroscience


Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students demonstrate knowledge of core counseling curriculum.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in clinical counseling skills.
  • Students demonstrate professional competence in counseling.
  • Students demonstrate the ability to research and write about Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) and Body Psychotherapy (BP) in a way that shows critical thinking, scholarship, and the integration of theoretical material with clinical practice.
  • Students demonstrate the ability to develop and use appropriate counseling and DMT/BP interventions when working with clients.
  • Students demonstrate the knowledge of and ability to practice the professional ethics and standards for DMTs/BPs and professional counselors, including the ability to self-regulate and self-evaluate; accept and integrate supervision; and address power and privilege both in the therapeutic relationship and within the institution.
  • Students internalize and manifest pluralism and multicultural competency as an integral part of clinical practice, including an ability to recognize and appreciate differences in people’s experiences of their bodies and their movement patterns.
  • Students develop a moment-to-moment embodiment of their experience, which includes feeling sensations, awareness of emotions, occupying the body, and tracking movements and thoughts.
Helping Hands

Alumni Highlight

“The course work at Naropa provided cutting-edge academic theories about the neurobiology of the mind as both embodied and relational and led me to feel exceptionally prepared when I later pursued my doctorate in clinical psychology.”

Arielle Schwartz, MA, PhD, Fielding Graduate University
Child and adult psychotherapist specializing in EMDR and body-centered therapies practicing in Boulder, Colorado