Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We have answers!

General Questions

So what is “Somatics” anyway?!

“Somatics” is the field of movement education that teaches you how to move well. It’s any kind of movement that addresses the connection between the body and the mind and improves the ability to be aware of how you feel in your body. That being said, there are many different methods in the field of “Somatics.” At Essential Somatics, we teach Clinical Somatic Education which is a safe, gentle, and common sense approach to eliminating chronic muscle pain for the long term. Clinical Somatics was developed by Thomas Hanna to target Sensory Motor Amnesia using the technique of pandiculation. Through simple, gentle movements, you learn how to relax the muscles that contribute to your pain and gain strategies for managing it in the future.

I'm new to this. Where do I start?

A Clinical Somatics session with a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator is the best place to begin. We recommend 3–6 hands-on Clinical Somatics sessions reinforced by a daily Essential Somatics® Movement practice. Visit our practitioner directory to find a Clinical Somatic Educator near you.If in-person Clinical Somatics sessions are not possible, then the next best option is private online sessions with a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator. Martha Peterson offers online 1:1 sessions. Click here to schedule a session.

*Best for those with complex patterns of SMA, those needing a more personalized Somatic Movement experience.*

 

If you want to dive right in, we recommend attending the Essential Somatics® Fundamentals Course. This introductory weekend workshop will help to deepen your understanding of Clinical Somatics and enhance your personal education and exploration. For an online group learning experience, check out our online classes or the Intro to Somatic Movement online series.

*Best for those with less complex patterns of SMA, those who want to learn more about CSE in general.*

 

If you’re unsure whether Clinical Somatics is right for you, you may schedule a video consultation to have your questions answered.

*Best for those who would like questions answered before committing to classes or sessions, or who would like advice about their pattern of SMA.*

Which muscular pain conditions does Clinical Somatics help to relieve?

Clinical Somatics helps to relieve many common pain conditions such as chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, and sciatica as well as other hip joint and knee pain. Read more about the muscular pain conditions Clinical Somatics helps to alleviate.

How can Clinical Somatic Education (CSE) help me?

Clinical Somatic Education is a method that helps you sense, feel, and control yourself in as comfortable a way as possible. To that end, you can use Essential Somatics® Movements and the principles of CSE in a variety of ways that can help you create more optimum movement habits (sitting, standing, reaching, walking): 

  1. To release, relax, and reset muscles that won’t relax for the long term no matter what methods you’ve tried.
  2. To prepare yourself and your muscles for movement. 
  3. To restore muscle function, balance, and comfort after recuperating from an accident or surgery. 
  4. To reconnect to yourself on a physical level as an adjunct to talk therapy or trauma therapy. 
  5. As a complementary modality to physical therapy, massage therapy, meditation, or other methods of healthcare.
  6. To maintain functional movement so you can do what you love to do for as long as you live.
I am trying to release tension in a specific area of my body. What should I do?

Most muscle pain conditions are the result of a full body pattern of Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA); therefore it is crucial to begin with movements that address the muscles of the front, back and sides of the body before focusing on a specific area. If you are not experiencing success through independent learning, we recommend scheduling a 1:1 in-person or online session.

I don’t have muscle pain. Can Clinical Somatics still help me?

If you are not currently experiencing muscle pain or tension, Clinical Somatics can help to keep it that way! What we teach at Essential Somatics® helps you to re-educate your nervous system to create more mobility, less tension, and ultimately less compression in the joints. More motion results in more nourishment to all of the tissues, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.

Clinical Somatic Education and Essential Somatics® Movement predominantly helps with muscle pain, symptoms associated with muscle pain, and muscle tension that appears in the stress reflex patterns that can contribute to movement restrictions, general physical discomfort, and structural issues. If your Sensory Motor Amnesia is addressed before it creates any of the pain, restriction, or structural issues mentioned above, you’ll be taking a proactive step in your ability to remain pain-free.

Can I do Essential Somatics® (ES) Movements while doing another movement-based practice or workout routine?

A daily practice of ES Movements prepares you to move well, and often better, in other areas of your life. However, if you are just starting the process of resolving chronic muscle pain or discomfort, it is best to focus solely on your ES Movements until you feel more comfortable and in control of your body and movement. Focusing on one modality at a time also gives your brain time to integrate the changes you make so that when you get back to your yoga/Pilates/sports you experience more balance, control, and awareness.

Can I do these movements while seated or standing?

Yes! The beauty of Essential Somatics® Movement is that you can create your own routine to adapt certain movements to your environment. For example, movements such as the Flower are typically done lying down on the floor, but can also be done while seated. The Human X is done on the floor and is very similar to Reach to the Top Shelf which is done while standing. You can explore these movements on your own, and if you feel you need additional guidance you can schedule a video consultation, private session, or attend one of our online classes for seated and standing movements.

Can Clinical Somatics help tension and muscle pain caused by emotional trauma/stress?

Absolutely. Clinical Somatics is highly effective at addressing this issue. Emotional and psychological stress sits throughout your entire body and the sensory motor system. Emotional stress can cause us to lose our sense of self. One of the benefits of Clinical Somatics is a deeper understanding of one’s emotional state and happiness. A combination of Clinical Somatics and counseling can be highly effective at addressing emotional stress and the physical manifestations of it.

Can Clinical Somatics help with post-op?

If you have been cleared for movement by your doctor (e.g. your doctor has given you approval to return to normal movement or recommended sessions with a PT), then Clinical Somatics would be appropriate. We teach you how to restore full brain-to-muscle control and sensation (sensory motor control) through gentle, easy movements. We recommend that those that would like to use Clinical Somatics to help with post-op to schedule private in-person sessions or online sessions with a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator. In-person sessions provide the opportunity for hands-on assistance which is helpful for sensing your movement and your SMA more easily. If you are unsure if Clinical Somatic Education is right for you, please schedule a video consultation.

Which Essential Somatics® (ES) Movements should I do? How often? How long?

There are many helpful ES Movements, but there is no “one routine fits all” approach because everyone has different needs and different patterns of SMA. If you would like to receive a brief assessment and a personalized recommendation for a daily ES Movement practice, please schedule a video consultation.

Below is the recommended approach to structuring a daily ES Movement practice:

  1. Start with a Soma Scan to bring awareness to how you feel in your body before you start your practice.
  2. Movements that address the front, back, and sides of the body. (E.g. Arch & Flatten, Arch & Curl, Back Lift, Side Bend)
  3. Movements that address rotation (Washrag, Steeple Twist, Invert/Evert).
  4. Movements that address specific areas. Note: This step may not be necessary if movements done previously during your movement practice address any “problem areas.”
  5. End with a Soma Scan to bring awareness to how you feel in your body now that you’ve completed your practice..

We recommend doing your ES Movement practice twice each day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Ideally, a daily ES Movement practice is about 15 minutes long. If you find that you need to do a longer practice, that’s OK too, but don’t overdo it! Movements should be done slowly and intentionally and remember to only do as much as is comfortable. If any movements are causing pain or aggravating existing pain, stop your practice and seek advice from a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator.

What is the best time to do my Essential Somatics® (ES) Movement practice?

ES Movement can provide a variety of benefits depending on how and when you use them. When done as a morning routine, they help to “wake up” and mobilize your muscles, bring you into a present-moment experience of your body, and prepare you to move for the day. When done in the evening, they are an excellent way to “shake off” the stress of the day and reset your muscles to a more relaxed state before bedtime.

An ES Movement practice before and after a workout will teach your brain and muscles to use only the muscles you need, resulting in efficiency of movement, more energy, and fewer injuries. First, prepare your muscles for movement before a workout; “de-activate” them afterwards to reduce any built-up tension. You can personalize your ES Movement routine depending on your activity or sport.

These Essential Somatics® (ES) Movements are causing pain, making my pain worse, or aren’t helping. What should I do?

ES Movements should not cause pain! If certain movements are causing pain, you likely have Sensory Motor Amnesia in that pattern and are having difficulty utilizing the proper muscles for that specific ES Movement. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend scheduling an online or in-person private session with a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator (CCSE).

Other factors to consider if you feel as though ES Movements aren’t helping:

  1. Number of Clinical Somatics sessions you’ve had. We recommend between 3-6 hands-on sessions with a CCSE and regular ES Movement classes for best results. Patience, persistence and follow-through are critically important.
  2. How long you have worked with ES Movements. You’re most likely not going to experience results immediately! Clinical Somatics is education and you are learning a new skill; releasing tight muscles and restoring efficient, easeful movement is a process that takes time.
  3. How you do your ES Movements. These movements should be done slowly, intentionally, and luxuriously (like a yawn); rushed or forced movements that are done without stopping and sensing will not yield the same results. 
  4. How frequently you do your ES Movement practice. Approach your ES Movement practice as you would your dental hygiene routine: Brushing and flossing daily will help to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and other issues. If you brush once a week, that’s not going to help much! The same is true for your ES Movement routine: Do your practice daily to ensure that you are taking active steps toward addressing any SMA that you accumulate throughout your day.
  5. Whether you live your life with awareness. Awareness of your movement habits and of your emotional responses to stress are the biggest factors. Awareness of these things will help you to better notice when and where your SMA shows up in your body.
How long should it take before I see results?

Most people experience results within the first week of learning ES Movements and practicing daily, but it all depends on:

  1. How long you’ve had SMA (injury, etc.) Some people see results almost immediately, but  those with more long-standing SMA or a history of injury or trauma may take longer.
  2. How (and how often) you do your daily ES Movement practice. An ES Movement practice that is done every day in a slow, intentional manner will yield the best results. Rushed or forced movements that are done infrequently will yield few (if any!) results.  
  3. How long you’ve been doing your ES Movement practice or how many sessions you’ve had with your local CCSE. The effects of ES Movement may not be noticed immediately, so it is critical to be patient, apply the learning wherever you can in your life, and seek additional advice if you feel that you need it. Many people need additional, hands-on guidance as well to help sense muscles that have been stuck for years.
  4. Whether you apply what you learn to how you live  your life (response to stress, physical habits, emotional life, etc.). Remember that your daily habits can create SMA. The benefit of ES Movements and clinical sessions is that you can learn a more efficient way of moving and being, making you more resilient to the stresses of your life.
I’ve been doing Essential Somatics® Movements on my own, but I'm not sure if I'm doing them right. What should I do?

The very definition of Sensory Motor Amnesia means that you can’t feel what you can’t feel and you can’t move what you can’t feel. As you learn on your own you may not be aware that you are doing the movements with your pattern of Sensory Motor Amnesia. You may think you are doing a movement in the most optimum way, yet you’re not successfully releasing your tension. Or, perhaps, you’re not activating the right muscles for a movement because your SMA is preventing you from sensing them properly. A skillful teacher can help you become aware of how to notice your own patterns so you can begin to release them more accurately and easily. 

Can I really become pain-free?

Yes, you can! It all depends on your commitment to yourself. Clinical Somatic Education isn’t magic. In most cases your particular pattern of muscular pain and compensation didn’t develop overnight; it took years of adapting to stress or compensating due to an accident or injury. Reversing “bad habits” and retraining internal control and awareness of muscles takes time and practice. Just like maintaining other areas of your health, like brushing your teeth, showering, or eating a good breakfast, it can be done if you’re willing to commit to it for as little as 15 minutes per day.

Are you affiliated with ISMETA or any Somatic Movement organizations?

Our CSE program is ISMETA approved and all our faculty are ISMETA certified.

What’s the difference between Clinical Somatics, Hanna Somatics, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais?

Hanna Somatic Education (also known as Clinical Somatic Education), the Feldenkrais Method and the Alexander Technique are all somatic practices—methods that focus on developing awareness of ourselves, with a view to opening up and/or improving our ability to move and sense. 

HSE and CSE are the same method, with one main difference: only graduates from the Novato Institute may refer to their work as HSE; all other practitioners use CSE. This practice was developed by Thomas Hanna from the Feldenkrais Method. Feldenkrais was influenced by, yet is distinct from, the Alexander Technique. 

The specific differences between CSE and other somatic practices are that CSE explains how we respond to stress (the “stress” reflexes), how chronic muscle pain develops (resulting in Sensory Motor Amnesia) and most importantly, uses a technique highly effective in releasing muscle tension and restoring control, movement and sensation (Pandiculation). It is these three elements that define CSE. 

A further difference is that within CSE there are defined Essential Somatics® Movements so that you can easily build a personal practice. Both the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method are a form of Somatic Education that addresses muscle tension in general, yet they lack the specificity and understanding of reflexes found in CSE and are somewhat nebulous in their application of how someone can create change independently without the help of a practitioner.

In Person Events
(Retreats and Fundamentals)

I’ve already learned the movements from your products. Is there any benefit to attending the Fundamentals Course?

The very reason we do Essential Somatics® Movements is because we have Sensory Motor Amnesia—we have forgotten how to efficiently sense and control our muscles. By definition, we cannot move what we cannot sense. The Fundamentals Course is a live 2-day experience where you’ll receive gentle hands-on teacher guidance that will greatly improve your sensory awareness. You’ll see live demonstrations of the movements and you can get your questions answered in real time, so you go home with more clarity on how to do your practice. You’ll learn all about the principles and concepts that underpin this work:the science, philosophy and techniques that make this method so successful. This is an immersive experience away from the distractions of everyday life, where you will experience the power of connecting and sharing a space with others who feel the same as you.

This course is the foundational learning that we recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about this work, and it is a requirement for those who train to be certified educators and movement teachers. If you are already enjoying what you are learning from Move Without Pain or our other products, then you will love the Fundamentals Course.

I’ve taken introductory classes/training courses with other Somatic Educators that are not in your practitioner directory. Does this fulfill the Fundamentals prerequisite?

No. Somatic Educators that have not completed training with Essential Somatics use different language, movement variations, teaching cues, and take a different approach to addressing how Sensory Motor Amnesia shows up. In order to be fully prepared for an advanced Essential Somatics program, all prospective students are required to attend the Fundamentals taught by Essential Somatics.

What is your cancellation policy for Essential Somatics events?

Please review our cancellation policy here.

ESMTT FAQs

Which course do I need to have completed to be eligible for the ESMTT?

As long as you have attended any of the following in their entirety, you are eligible for the ESMTT.

  • Any Essential Somatics retreat
  • Any Essential Somatics Fundamentals Course

If you have completed either of these courses, please contact info@essentialsomatics.com before applying to ensure eligibility:

  • Move With Ease
  • Any Intro to Somatic Movement online series

If you've been taking regular classes with an ES Certified Movement Teacher also contact us before applying to ensure eligibility.

I have certifications and many years of experience in another field of bodywork and/or movement. Can you waive the prerequisite for the ESMTT?

Clinical Somatic Education is a completely different paradigm that requires as much—or more—experiential learning as it does intellectual learning, therefore those with training in a different movement modality are required to complete the prerequisite training. However, if you have previously studied with another Clinical Somatic Educator, or live in an area without a practitioner near you, please contact us directly to discuss your specific circumstances.

What if I don’t have any teaching skills?

No prior teaching experience is necessary to enroll in the ESMTT program. Our comprehensive curriculum is designed to take you from foundational principles to advanced teaching techniques, ensuring you develop the skills needed to confidently lead Somatic Movement sessions.

What if I don’t have any existing clients to practice with?

Many people who don’t come from a profession with an existing client base take the ESMTT. To support you in gaining the practical experience you need, we offer opportunities to teach people from our community. This ensures you have access to groups of practice clients, helping you accumulate the teaching hours required to practice your skills and build confidence. We're committed to your success and provide these resources to ensure you get the most out of your training experience.

Do I need to attend all of the classes?

Students must attend all scheduled in-person modules and online learning sessions.

In the event of an unavoidable conflict, online group sessions may be made up in a 1:1 format with your mentor for an additional cost.

Do I need to complete the entire ESMTT program to be eligible for the CSET program?

Yes. Prospective CSET students are required to successfully complete the ESMTT before they are considered eligible for the CSET.

I can’t attend the in-person sessions. Is there an online option?

No, there currently is no ESMTT program being held exclusively online. If you are unable to attend the in-person sessions for a certain ESMTT, we invite you to apply to the next ESMTT that works with your schedule to ensure your attendance at all required classes and sessions.

What are the payment options?

To secure your place on the course a deposit is required. The remaining tuition balance will then be divided into 4 equal monthly payments. The first payment is due in the month before the course starts. 

For example, if the course starts in January, the first payment will be in December, then January, February and March.

How often does the ESMTT course take place?

At present we offer one course per year in the UK and one course per year in the US. Please see the upcoming courses section for full details.

What kind of support is available during and after the training?

During the ESMTT, you'll benefit from personalized mentorship and guidance from our dedicated teaching team. Upon completing the ESMTT, you'll continue to have access to updated ESMTT learning materials and any updates we make in the future. Additionally, you'll receive a complimentary 6-month Graduate Community membership, with the option to extend. This membership offers continuous learning opportunities, a supportive network of practitioners, inclusion in our practitioner directory, and more. These resources are designed to support your ongoing growth and success in your practice.

What are the career prospects after completing the training?

Upon completion of the ESMTT, you'll be equipped to offer a variety of services including private classes, group classes, and workshops. Many of our graduates also integrate somatic principles into existing healthcare, fitness, or wellness practices.

General Training FAQs

Do you offer discounts/scholarships?

We regularly offer early bird discounts on our events and courses. These are only valid for a defined period of time after the event or course is launched. We also regularly run promotions offering discounts on our whole range of products. To be notified of these promotions, sign up to our newsletter. 

We do not currently offer scholarships, although we hope to be able to do this in the future.

What is the difference between the ESMTT and the CSET?

Essential Essential Somatics® Movement Teacher Training (ESMTT) program: A yearlong training course for those interested in certifying to become an Essential Essential Somatics® Movement Teacher in order to teach groups or in a one-to-one setting. Prerequisite training: Fundamentals Course.

Clinical Somatic Education Training (CSET): A 3-year certification program for those interested in certifying to become a Clinical Somatic Educator. Graduates will be certified to assess individual clients, teach Essential Somatics® Movements, use hands-on techniques to facilitate the client’s ability to restore sensory motor control, and more. CCSEs are able to conduct Essential Somatics® Movement classes as well as work clinically with clients. Prerequisite training: ESMTT.

Do you provide continuing education (CE) credits?

No, continuing education credits are not currently available.

If you couldn’t find the answers to your questions on this FAQ page, please contact us using the form below.

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