What Is Somatic Psychology?

If you’ve considered becoming a psychologist, you might wonder what somatic psychology is. This branch of psychology deals directly with the mind-body connection. Somatic psychologists study anatomy and physiology in tandem with psychology in order to make connections and draw conclusions concerning the mind-body dichotomy. This is the field of study that examines whether sad or angry people tend to be sick more often than happy, peaceful people, and these studies attempt to provide answers for doctors and counselors treating a variety of conditions.

Studying the Mind-Body Connection

To begin a career in somatic psychology, you need to study psychology, but you may choose to earn a degree in biology, physiology or healthcare. Most individuals begin with an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field and then earn graduate degrees to complete their education. Since somatic psychologists study across more than one discipline, many of them also study traditional or alternative medicine. Research on the mind-body connection continues to be relevant across healthcare disciplines, so some individuals pursuing studies of the interactions between physical and mental health pursue degrees in clinical research.

Most individuals working and researching in this field hold doctoral degrees, but these degrees come from across psychology and healthcare disciplines. Medical doctors research the mind-body connection and somatic symptoms related to psychiatry as do individuals with doctoral degrees in psychology. Chiropractors and osteopaths as well as occupational therapists also work in this field.

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Working with the Mind-Body Connection

Somatic psychologists take a variety of different career paths. Many choose to practice clinical psychology and help clients achieve overall health as they explore the mind-body connection. Others prefer to work in research settings, designing experiments and testing groups of subjects. Researchers in this sub-field of psychology often have the opportunity to develop innovative treatment options along with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues.

Yoga instructors and recreational therapists commonly work with the mind-body connection, and this connection has been the focus of medical and psychological research for decades. Today, researchers study the interaction between physiology and psychology to find innovative treatments for a multitude of illnesses. Many cancer treatment centers have begun to include meditation and counseling into their treatment programs. As research on the mind-body connection continues, evidence of psycho-somatic issues affecting such conditions as asthma and cancer has become important in the development of treatments for these and other diseases.

The study of the mind-body connection is centuries old. Eastern cultures addressed the connection in religious writings, medical practices and martial arts for centuries before the Greeks first introduced the concept of a mind-body dichotomy. Ancient Hebrews did not believe the mind and body to be separate entities. Today, the debate about the mind-body connection continues, but it is constantly being informed by the work of researchers and somatic psychologists. With a career in the interdisciplinary science of somatic psychology, you can be on the cutting edge of new insights in healthcare, advances in medicine and improvements in the quality of life for thousands of people.