What Does “Somatic” Mean? - by admin@mcb on May 16 2018

What Does “Somatic” Mean?

As the Director of Education with the Institute of Somatic Therapy, Judith Koch is often asked the meaning of “somatic”.

Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary cites somatic as being from the Greek word “soma”, meaning body. The three definitions Taber’s provides are:

  1. Pertaining to non-reproductive cells or tissues.
  2. Pertaining to the body.
  3. Pertaining to structures of the body wall, such as skeletal muscles (somatic musculature) in contrast to structures associated with the viscera, such as visceral muscles (splanchnic musculature).

shutterstock_222305086-1When we use the term “somatic” at the Institute of Somatic Therapy, we are referring to the third definition, pertaining to the skeletal muscles. This same concept is found in the name of the pharmaceutical drug “Soma” which is a muscle relaxant.

Some confusion has arisen out of various practitioners referring to their style of bodywork as “somatic therapy.” Some clients have come to believe that only that particular style of bodywork falls under the meaning of the term “somatic.”

The first “somatic therapy” class that Koch took was a technique similar to Institute of Somatic Therapy’s course titled “Fascilitated PNF Stretching”, which is a form of neuromuscular bodywork using isometric and isotonic contractions. In reality, any type of bodywork that seeks to address tension or dysfunction in the skeletal muscles can be referred to as “somatic therapy.”

Online Continuing Education for Massage Therapists

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. We are also approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.

Our goal is to provide massage therapists with quality online continuing education courses, to improve their skill as somatic practitioners. We offer many popular categories of courses such as prenatal massage, infant massage, ethics, research, pathology, and more. You can view our list of CE courses HERE.