Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA

Somatic Counseling Concentration

Harness the power of synchronized and integrative psychotherapy through experience and expression on physical, emotional, cognitive, energetic, and spiritual levels.

About this Concentration

Naropa’s holistic Somatic Counseling concentration combines clinical mental health theory and practice with mind-body therapy. As you explore the relationship between mind, body, and movement, you’ll learn to grow, develop, and support the wellness and sanity in yourself and your clients using powerful somatic counseling techniques.

This three-year cohort program is based on the belief that a functional unity exists between the mind and body and that therapeutic change occurs through direct experience of the present moment. Our graduates are prepared with theoretical, clinical, and professional skills, as well as contemplative experience, necessary to begin a compassionate, clinical practice as informed, effective psychotherapy counselors. 

Naropa’s somatic counseling degree program allows you to gain hands-on experience working in the community through practicum and internship placements. The 100-hour practicum involves a fieldwork placement. The 700-hour clinical internship incorporates meaningful service through observing and participating in the mental health community. Both experiences introduce you to different populations and help you become more comfortable with your community. 

The concentration is primarily geared toward helping students achieve licensure as professional counselors. Graduate students who successfully complete coursework to earn a master’s degree in somatic counseling also fulfill the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) requirements for professional certification as a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and/or Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME).

Learn from licensed and certified professional counselors with a variety of clinical, teaching, and research experience working with diverse populations. Our faculty is uniquely qualified to train future somatic counselors.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

The Somatic Counseling concentration is a three-year, on-campus Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. On top of regular theoretical coursework, students are expected to complete a 100-hour practicum at a community agency during their second year, and a 700-hour internship during the third year. These fieldwork experiences take place in a supervised environment and help students develop their counseling skills through observing and participating in the mental health community while providing meaningful service. 

Course Spotlight

Specialized Approaches in Somatic Counseling

An advanced theory and skills course that studies both developmental and traumatic wounding, and the adult patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior these wounds create. Using various methodologies, students gain a somatic understanding of trauma and its physiological and psychological effects. Practical somatic techniques for contacting, accessing, deepening, processing, transforming, and integrating developmental and traumatic experiences are taught. 

Degree
Requirements

The 65-credit Somatic Counseling concentration provides students with the theoretical, clinical, and professional skills to be effective counselors grounded in the integration of body, mind, and movement. Focusing on awareness practices, inclusivity, movement disciplines, creativity, counseling techniques, multicultural perspectives, and scholarly pursuits, the curriculum prepares students to be of service both to themselves and others.

Counseling Experiential Requirement:

Each student must participate in a counseling/therapy relationship with a qualified psychotherapist of their choice. A minimum of fifteen 50-minute face-to-face sessions (via telehealth or in person) within the first two years of the program is required. (The term “psychotherapist” is used to be inclusive of licensed providers from a variety of professional mental health backgrounds. The Student Guidebook outlines specific parameters of a qualified psychotherapist.)

Course Schedule

  • CMHC 600, Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Orientation to the Profession (3)
  • CNSS 646, Contemplative Practices for Somatic Counseling I (1)
  • CMHC 601, Social/Multicultural Foundations (3)
  • CNSB 627, Foundations of Somatic Counseling (2)
  • CMHC 603, Counseling and Helping Relationships I (3)
  • CMHC 602, Human Growth and Development (3)
  • CNSS 658, Applied Anatomy and Neuroscience in Counseling (2)
  • CNSS 622, Body/Movement Observation/Assessment (3)
Summer Year 1 (Off, 0 credits)
  • CMHC 604, Counseling and Helping Relationships II (3)
  • CMHC 605, Group Counseling (3)
  • CMHC 606, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Counseling (3)
  • CNSB 716, Specialized Approaches of Somatic Counseling (2)
  • CNSS 663, Family Systems (3)
  • CNSS 606, Advanced Counseling Skills (3)
  • CMHC 607, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning (3)
  • CMHC 620, Counseling Practicum (3)
  • CMHC 609, Research & Program Evaluation (3)
  • CMHC 608, Assessment (3)
  • CMHC 621, Initial Internship (2)
  • CMHC 622, Internship I (3)
  • CNSS 664, Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Counseling (3)
  • CMHC 615, Capstone I (1)
CMHC 623, Winter Intercession Internship (0)
  • CMHC 624, Internship II (3)
  • CMHC 610, Career Development (3)
  • CMHC 616, Capstone II (1)

Why Choose Naropa?

Community Network

As part of your body psychotherapy training, you will complete fieldwork placements at a partnering human service agency. These opportunities will allow you to create meaningful connections with professionals and institutions in the field, setting you up for success after graduation.

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Licensure Assistance

Naropa’s Credentialing Coordinator provides support to students and graduates of the Somatic Counseling program with licensure and credentialing requirements, helping them develop individualized paths toward licensure and providing assistance post-graduation.

Diversity & Inclusion

Naropa University is dedicated to embracing diversity and inclusive education. This is helpful in understanding and showing qualities that bring people together, aiming for a fair and united society.

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How this Program Prepares You

Clinical Experience

During the second and third years of their degree, students will develop their clinical skills in real-world settings through field placement assignments. These crucial learning opportunities will allow students to gain experience in their specialty area of choice, be it family therapy, health and wellness services, or children’s counseling. On-site supervision, mentorship, and career development counseling complement field experience.

Holistic Somatic Awareness

Naropa’s rich and rigorous curriculum will help transform you into a deeply aware somatic psychotherapist. Our integrative psychotherapy approach emphasizes mindfulness and moving meditation, as well as diversity and community engagement. You’ll explore the current understanding of multicultural competence, as well as the historical impact on the bodies that are present in counseling, through the critical lenses of cultural identities, power, and privilege.

Diverse Skillset & Techniques

We approach somatic counseling as a systems process involving self, environment, and the interaction between both. You will learn how to use mindfulness training, breathwork, interceptive awareness, and other somatic counseling techniques to ease suffering, support mental health, and sustain change in minds, bodies, and lives. Through rigorous training and learning, you’ll be able to develop and use appropriate counseling and body psychotherapy interventions when working with clients. 

What You'll Learn

Moment-to-Moment Embodiment

Develop your awareness through sensations, emotions, movements, and thoughts.

Mindfulness Meditation

Recognize and point to moments of brilliant sanity in yourself and others.

Integrative Psychotherapy

Demonstrate critical thinking, scholarship, theory, and clinical practice.

Clinical Counseling

Apply techniques, skills, and interventions to help the body heal the mind.

Pluralism and Multicultural Competency

Recognize and appreciate others’ experiences of their bodies and movement.

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Career Opportunities for Somatic Counseling

Somatic counseling training will transform you into a deeply aware therapist passionate about helping others create change in their bodies, minds, and lives., graduates are uniquely positioned to pursue career opportunities in the field right after graduation. Many develop a professional network during their field placements.

Career Opportunities for Somatic Counseling graduates include: 

Discover Career Pathways for Somatic Counseling

Hear from a Graduate

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

Somatic Counseling (formerly the Body Psychotherapy concentration)

FAQS about the
Somatic Counseling

‘Soma’ refers to the body imbued with Psyche. While the body may be thought of as a physical mechanism (as it often is in Western medicine), a somatic lens is one concerned with the autonomous lived experience of the body. The core of somatic counseling is the thesis that the psyche-imbued plays a key role in people’s relationships with themselves, others, and their environment. 

As the West’s first Buddhist-inspired university, Naropa has a rich history of engagement with somatic counseling practices, both from an academic and practical standpoint. This approach is universal to all our academic offerings. As true experts in somatic counseling, this program allows graduates to enter the field with a thorough education.

Learn more about somatic counseling in our suggested reading list for this concentration. 

Graduates of Naropa’s Somatic Counseling program can receive licensure in most states across the country. This master’s degree program fulfills the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) requirements for professional certification as a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME). Students and graduates receive support from Naropa’s Credentialing coordinator to obtain these and other certifications.

Somatic counseling and dance/movement theories and practice represent two different approaches to counseling through a somatic lens. While they share the fundamental belief of somatic experiencing, the dance/movement theories and practice concentration focuses on the healing potential of conscious movement sequencing, while somatic counseling explores synchronized and integrative psychotherapy practices.

Learn More About the Program

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Connect

with your counselor

Jeffrey Neering

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

Naropa University seeks to foster academic excellence and introspective reflection. Our application requirements reflect these values and our commitment to inclusion, diversity, sustainability, and contemplative education.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for the Somatic Counseling: Body Psychotherapy concentration.

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Individuals with an undergraduate degree are encouraged to apply to Naropa.

To apply, submit an online application and the following documents: 

  • Transcripts from any institutions where undergraduate coursework was completed.
  • A detailed statement of interest
  • Resume/CV that covers pertinent academic, employment, and volunteer history (including exact dates of participation)
  • Two letters of recommendation

Applicants who meet the qualifying criteria will be contacted and asked to attend an Interview Day, participating in both group interview sessions.

Read the complete list of admission requirements.

International applicants are welcome at Naropa! If you want to pursue graduate education here but have an undergraduate degree from a non-US university, additional documentation is required during your application process.

Please refer to our requirements page for international students. 

Costs and Financial Aid

Students attending Naropa University have access to several scholarships and financial aid opportunities. Over 75% of our graduate students receive some kind of federal or institutional financial assistance. See our Costs & Aids page for a breakdown of institutional and indirect costs of pursuing graduate education at Naropa, as well as grants, scholarships, and programs you may be eligible for.

Graduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to graduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our graduate scholarship page. 

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.