Underpinning Theory: Faculty: Teaching Methods/Structure: Admission: Level I Training Curriculum: Level II Training Curriculum: Level III Training Curriculum: Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation Curriculum: Upcoming Trainings
Sensorimotor Psycho therapy Institute® (SPI) offers a three-tier Training Program in Affect Regulation, Attachment, and Trauma designed for allied mental health professionals to build skills in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠.
Click on the following links to view complete information on curriculum for each Training:
- Level I: Training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory presents simple, body-based interventions for tracking, naming, and safely exploring trauma-related, somatic activation, creating new competencies and restoring a somatic sense of self
- Level II: Training in Emotional Processing, Meaning Making, and Traumatic Memory illustrates how traumatic, attachment, and developmental issues influence one another and how to provide effective treatment given their inevitable intertwining
- Level III: Training in Advanced Skills/Certification, helps SPI students refine their skills toward the goal of Certification in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ (SP)
- Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation is a supplemental offering designed for SPI graduates that Illustrates ways in which SP can be adapted for clients with complex symptoms or disorders.
Additional supplemental offerings may be forthcoming. Contact Student Services for more information
"Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a conceptually elegant, powerfully effective body therapy that involves a broad repertoire of somatic interventions specifically designed to help clients tap into the wisdom of their bodies. The SPI Training Program offers ingeniously taught intensive courses for clinicians seeking to deepen their understanding of the body."
— Martha Stark, M.D., Author of Working with Resistance and Modes of Therapeutic Action
"Pat Ogden is a brilliant and compassionate clinician who brings deep knowledge and wisdom to her unique contributions to caring for others and helping them in the journey to heal. What a gift to the world she is, and to anyone fortunate to be able to study with her."
— Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development.
Traditional psychotherapy addresses the cognitive and emotional elements of trauma and early attachment issues but lacks techniques that work directly with the physiological elements. Research shows that trauma and early attachment profoundly affects the body and that many symptoms of afflicted individuals are somatically driven.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ builds upon traditional psychotherapeutic techniques and principles, but approaches the body as central in the therapeutic field of awareness, and includes observational skills, theories, and interventions not usually practiced in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Theoretical principles and treatment approaches from both the mental health and body psychotherapy traditions are integrated in this approach.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ draws from body-oriented psychotherapy methodology pioneered by Ron Kurtz (Kurtz, 1990) as a foundation for therapeutic skills and incorporates theory and technique from psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, neuroscience, and the theories of attachment and dissociation.
SPI Trainers are diverse in their orientations and specialities, which include but are not limited to adult, child and adolescent psychotherapy, couple therapy, dissociative disorders, and group therapy. All Trainers are Certified in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ and participate in a comprehensive development program under the close supervision of senior trainers and founder Pat Ogden, PhD. Trainers maintain registration or licensure in their discipline, are actively enrolled in a degree seeking, licensure program, or have post-graduate pre-licensure status. Trainers participate in continuing education on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠, trauma, or attachment.
SPI Trainers adhere to the ethics of their respective licensing or governing boards as well SPI’s policies for conduct.
Click here to view Trainer biographies.
- Lecture: Slide presentations focus on the theoretical underpinnings of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠, relevant neuroscience and attachment research, and descriptions of techniques and rationale
- Reading Assignments: Level I and II Training manuals and reading assignments from “Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy” by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, and Clare Pain, and “Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment,” by Pat Ogden and Janina Fisher
- Writing Assignments: Workbook assignments, included following each chapter in the manual, contain study exercises and written homework designed to facilitate personal understanding and application of course content in clinical practice
- Discussion: Both large and small group discussion offer opportunities to explore topics in depth and ask didactic and technical questions
- Video: Trainers present edited videos of therapy sessions with a wide variety of clients to illustrate the application of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ concepts and skills in clinical practice
- Demonstration: Trainers demonstrate concepts and skills through role-play, demonstrations with students, and analysis of video sessions with clients
- Experiential Exercises: Practice vignettes and exercises are designed to give students the opportunity to practice specific Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ approaches and skills
- Consultation: SPI students present clinical cases and receive feedback from instructors regarding the integration of specific Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ skills into their work with clients.
- Feedback: Trainers observe, critique, and support the development of SPI student skills during class exercises
- Video Library: An extensive video library of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ client sessions is provided for SPI students to watch on SPI’s secure website
- Peer Partner and Study Group Assignments: Students form dyads and groups to practice elements of the SP method
Prior to a Training students receive access to a course outline, homework, and Training Manual. The course outline specifies the topics, skills, and theory taught at each module of the Training and delineates homework assignments. Both experiential and didactic homework is assigned to reinforce theory, concepts, and skills. Assignments include readings from Trauma and The Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy, by Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, and Clare Pain, readings from the course’s training manual accompanied by workbook assignments that require both written response and integration of skills into clinical practice, and a bibliography that serves as a resource for additional reading.
During the Training each student is asked to practice key elements of the method by pairing up with another student (during the Training, outside of the Training, or both). The purpose of this peer partner practice is to provide experience with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ skills by working with a single partner from whom the student can receive feedback over time. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute® suggests that peer partners exchange four practice sessions (or 8 sessions all together), and fill out an assessment form after each practice session.
To help reinforce the skills and theory of the Training, students are asked to form study groups consisting of 4-6 members for the purpose of discussing the curriculum topics outside of Training hours and providing educational support to one another.
To assist in the integration of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® skills and methodology into clinical practice, group consultation is provided by the Trainer during class to answer student questions regarding integrating the theory and interventions into their existing practices.
Who Should Attend?
Candidates with a clinical experience in one or more of the following professional disciplines are encouraged to apply to the Training Program
- Social Work
- Licensed Professional Counseling
- Pastoral Counseling
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Drug and Alcohol Counseling
- Crisis Intervention Counseling
- Rape Crisis Counseling
- Guidance Counseling
- Dance Therapy
Don’t see your profession listed? Contact Student Services to find out if you are eligible to apply to attend the Training Program.
Application & Admission Process
Admission is required for entry into the Training Program and for each individual Training. Admission is dependent upon review of both a candidate’s application to attend and enrollment availability.
Candidates apply directly to a Training Session of their choosing from offerings on the SPI website. A ‘Training Session’ is defined as a particular Training taking place in a particular location, with a pre-determined schedule.
In the event a Training Session has reached maximum enrollment, qualified candidates may be placed on a waiting list.
*SPI carefully reviews each application for admission according to the following factors:
Training Program (and Level I Training) must meet one or more of the three following prerequisites:
- Legally authorized in local state/province, or country to practice as a mental health professional
- Graduate-level student currently enrolled in a mental health discipline at an accredited college or university
- Post-graduate student actively engaged in the process of qualifying as a mental health professional legally authorized to practice
Level II Training
- Successful completion of the Level I Training
- Recommendation of Level I Trainer(s)
Level III Training
- Successful completion of the Level II Training
- Recommendation of Level I and II Trainer(s)
- Interview with the Level III Training Lead
Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation
- Successful completion of the Level I Training
- Recommendation of Level I Trainer(s)
- Educational Background
- Professional Experience
- Personal and professional reasons for taking the Training
- Group dynamic, and availability of seats in a Training
Meeting the prerequisites for admission to the Training Program or a specific level of Training does not guarantee admittance. Trainers may request references and/or an interview with an applicant prior to admission. Trainers may request additional requirements or information from applicants, including an interview with the Trainer, references or legal documentation for licensure, or references or documentation for educational background or professional experience.
*For Trainings outside of the United States: Applications may be reviewed jointly by Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute® (SPI), Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute® Europe Ltd. (SPEU) or SPI’s partner organizations.
Auditing an SPI Training
Candidates who do not meet the prerequisites of the Training Program may be allowed to audit a particular Training. Candidates allowed to audit a Training are not eligible for Certification in Sensorimotor Psycotherapy℠ and cannot be listed on SPI’s referral page.
SPI students auditing a Training are valued participants and an important aspect of the group dynamic and learning process. Auditing students are expected to attend and participate in the Training in full and are held to the same policies and standards of conduct that apply to all SPI students.
Contact Student Services for more information on auditing a Training.
Candidates for Trainings held in the United States, Canada, and select countries overseas must complete an online application via SPI’s official website www.sensorimotor.org. Candidates for Trainings organized jointly by SPI and its partner organizations may be required to apply via other means. Candidates should carefully read the application instructions for a particular Training Session in order to properly apply to attend.
Online applications for Trainings held in the United States, Canada, and for SPEU Trainings consist of the following:
- Requirement to upload a copy of résumé or curriculum vitae (CV)
- Requirement to provide proof of one of the following:
- Licensure in a mental health profession
- Legal authorization to practice as a mental health professional in state/province, or country of residence
- Enrollment in a graduate level mental health program at an accredited college or university
- Post-graduate degree and engagement in the process of qualifying as a mental health professional legally authorized to practice
To locate an upcoming Training Session, click here
Level I: Training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory
Level I of The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy ℠ Training Program in Affect Regulation, Attachment, and Trauma equips therapists to better understand the symptoms and issues related to trauma and traumatic attachment and to work with them in a more effective way. With a neurobiological understanding of the presenting problems of these clients and equipped with interventions that speak directly to how the issues are driven by the body and the nervous system, students will be able to work with clients with a range of challenges from stabilization to resolution and integration.
The Level I Training presents simple, body-oriented interventions for tracking, naming, and safely exploring trauma-related somatic activation, creating new competencies, and restoring a somatic sense of self. Students will learn effective, accessible interventions for working with disruptive behavioral patterns, disturbed cognitive and emotional processing, and the fragmented sense of self experienced by so many traumatized individuals. Techniques are taught within a phase-oriented treatment approach, focusing first on stabilization and symptom reduction. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ can be easily and effectively integrated into psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and EMDR-focused treatments.
The length of the Level I Training is approximately 80 contact hours.
To view Level I learning objectives, click here.
Level I Topics
- Introduction to Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠: The foundational theoretical principles of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠, the importance of the body in trauma and attachment treatment, and beginning skills of tracking the body, describing what is observed, and naming present moment bodily experience in the form of a contact statement
- Introduction to Working with the Body: The role of the body in perpetuating symptoms of trauma and early attachment failures, how to work with physical action to harness the wisdom of the body in resolving these symptoms
- The Role of the Body in Procedural Learning: survival resources and responses, implicit and explicit memory, sensitivity to triggers
- Embedded Relational Mindfulness™: Working in the present moment, the use of mindfulness within the therapeutic alliance, directed mindfulness interventions
- Core Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Skills: Tracking, contact statements, framing present moment experience, mindfulness questions and directives, mindful experiments.
- Hierarchical Information Processing: three levels of processing: cognitive, emotional, and sensorimotor, top-down and bottom-up processing.
- Introduction to Phase Oriented Treatment: stabilization and symptom reduction (developing resources), and working with memory
- The Five Stages of the Process: Container, accessing, processing, transformation integration
- Somatic Resources for Stabilization: The role of the body in addressing Phase One goals of stabilization and symptom reduction; analysis of survival and creative resources to identify existing and missing somatic resources and employ interventions to help clients develop new resources
- Orienting and Defensive Responses: Interventions to reinstate adaptive, innate orienting and animal defensive responses truncated in the wake of trauma, the therapeutic use of touch and its pitfalls
- Boundaries: How trauma and attachment affect boundary styles and techniques to restore adaptive, flexible somatic and psychological boundaries
- Trauma-related Dissociation: Introduction to structural dissociation and the role of the body in maintaining dissociative parts and promoting integration
- Memory Processing: Interventions to process and integrate implicit and explicit memories, overcoming the fear of traumatic memory; finding peritraumatic resources, restoring empowering actions
- Sensorimotor Sequencing: Recalibrating the nervous system, through somatic approaches for working with involuntary movement and dysregulated arousal at the regulatory boundaries of the window of tolerance
- Integration and Resolution: Introduction to the legacy of attachment and loss primary and secondary emotions, the cognitive effects of trauma, and Phase three themes of self-development, adaption to normal life, and relationships
Level II: Training in Emotional Processing, Meaning Making, and Attachment Repair
Level II of The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ Training Program in Affect Regulation, Attachment, and Trauma addresses the interaction between traumatic, attachment, and developmental issues and how to provide effective treatment given their inevitable intertwining. In this Training, research from the attachment and neuroscience fields provides the theoretical foundation for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ interventions and practices that address the effects of suboptimal and/or traumatic early attachment.
Attachment experiences in early childhood leave a legacy of conscious and nonverbal learning reflected in relational habits, affect tolerance and expression, meaning making and cognitive schemas that limit development, patterns of body structure, and the ability to connect deeply to one’s own emotions. In the Level II Training, participants will learn to track and name developmental and attachment patterns, help clients make meaning from the bottom up, manage consciousness, assess resources for relationship and full participation in life, connect to early memories and unresolved grief and loss, and transform painful emotions held by young child states.
The length of the Level II Training is approximately 180 contact hours.
To view Level II learning objectives, click here.
Level II Topics
- Trauma, Traumatic Attachment and Development: The legacy of attachment; developmental and traumatic wounds, somatic treatment approaches for secure, ambivalent, avoidant and disorganized/disoriented attachment patterns
- Body Reading for Attachment History: Track how body structure, posture, gesture and movement reflects and sustains early childhood experience; interventions to alter the legacy of early attachment
- Changing Procedural Learning: Identify and work with the emotional, cognitive, and physical action patterns that reflect early attachment history
- Translating the Body's Language: Understand how meaning is encoded in the body, and work with posture, expression and movement to change meanings conditions from early attachment interactions
- Therapeutic Techniques for Attachment-Related Themes: Learn body-oriented interventions that address procedurally learned habits and early attachment patterns
- Verbal and Physical Experiments: Apply embedded relational mindfulness™ to introduce verbal and somatic experiments that address the legacy of attachment
- Somatic Resources for Attachment: Capitalize on the body’s resources for transforming painful unresolved attachment patterns
- Re-working Limiting Beliefs and their Somatic Components: Identify manifestations of cognitive schemas in the body, connect meaning making to early attachment interactions, and learn interventions to transform limiting beliefs
- Action Systems and Action Tendencies: Learn how motivational, or action, systems are disrupted by trauma and attachment failure, and discriminate maladaptive action tendencies from adaptive ones related to these systems
- Attachment and Character Theory: Explore nine character strategies as physical and psychological adaptations to early attachment, and learn specific interventions for each of the strategies
- Somatic Transference, Countertransference, and Therapeutic Enactments: Use a bottom-up approach to understanding transference and countertransference and negotiating therapeutic enactments
- The “Child” State of Consciousness: The connection between early memories and the child part that holds the pain reflected in limiting beliefs and procedural learning
- Integration of Treatment Techniques for Attachment and Trauma: How to work with clients who present with both attachment-related issues and unresolved trauma
- The Action Cycle and Barriers to Resolution: A psychology of action map to assess and address incomplete actions and impediments to resolution of the past
- Boundaries, Character, and Attachment: Renegotiate relational boundary patterns that reflect early attachment and character adaptations
Level III: Training in Advanced Skills/Certification
The Level III: Advanced Skills/Certification Training provides a supportive group environment in which Level II graduates refine their skills at each stage of the therapy process to achieve proficiency in the practice of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠. Rigorous evaluation is an integral part of the Level III Training, and students are taught clear strategies for self and peer assessment of skills through Trainer demonstration, video and transcript analysis, and in-vivo practice. To practice and learn specific skills, worksheet drills are provided that delineate the specific elements of the skill to be demonstrated. Assessment is based not only on the implementation of the skill, but also on understanding the fundamental principles behind each skill. Under the guidance of Trainers, students complete formal assessments of their ability to work effectively within each stage of the therapy process. Every Level III training module includes exercises, drills, practice, video assessment and transcript analysis, application of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ concepts in clinical practice, review of homework assignments, demonstrations, and individual feedback to students.
Each module of the Level III Training includes short lectures, exercises, practice, video assessment and transcript analysis, review of homework assignments, demonstrations, and individual feedback from the Trainer.
Completion of the Level III Training does not guarantee Certification in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠. Certification is a highly individualized process that may require further work outside of the approximately 144 contact hours of the Training. Students auditing the Level III Training are not eligible for Certification.
To view Level III learning objectives, click here.
Certification in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ may only be awarded to SPI students who have completed the Training Program and graduated from the Level III Training having achieved the highest level of mastery of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ method and who are legally authorized in their state/province or country of residence to practice as mental health professionals.
*Graduates of the Level III Training who are awarded Certification Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ may use the phrases “Certified in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠” and “Sensorimotor Psychotherapist” to indicate their achievement.
*“Certified in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠” and “Sensorimotor Psychotherapist” are phrases used by Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute® to identify Certified Graduates of the Level III Training who have achieved the highest level of master of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ method. These phrases do not, in any way – real or implied – supersede laws governing the legal authorization to practice as a mental health professional.
Level III Curriculum Topics
- Introduction and demonstration of advanced skills and techniques necessary for Certification In Sensorimotor Psychotherapy®
- Supervised skills practice, consultation and feedback from instructors and peers
- Visual learning: analysis of audio and videotapes and demonstrations to help each student refine their skills
- Individual assessment and consultation to assist each student in refinement of skills
- Homework and study group assignments (including tape analysis and transcripts)
- Attention to character strategies, countertransference tendencies, and traumatic patterns as they interfere with attainment of certification skills
- Review and analysis of videotaped student sessions
Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ techniques are uniquely suited for clients with complex symptoms and disorders. Complex trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder clients benefit from the emphasis on mindfulness and present day focus, while dissociative disorder clients benefit from working with the body that is a shared whole for all parts. Despite the fact that more complex clients can be body-phobic or have difficulty with movement and action, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ techniques can be adapted to suit their special requirements. Slowing down the pace, working with ‘slivers’ of information, combining body and parts work, increasing the amount of repetition and practice all contribute to expanding the Window of Tolerance. In addition, the basic skills from the Level I Training will be reviewed via intensive skills practice in order to increase mastery of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠ work and prepare students for Level II and Level III.
The length of the Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation is approximately 50 contact hours.
To view learning objectives for the Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, click here.
Curriculum Topics for Training in Complex Trauma and Dissociation
- Challenges in treatment of complex trauma and dissociative disorder clients
- Dysregulated autonomic arousal
- Impulsive and unsafe behavior
- Difficulty connecting to one’s emotions and body
- Dissociative compartmentalization
- Difficulty sustaining dual awareness
- Hypoactive and hyperactive defenses
- Addressing barriers to effective treatment
- Increasing the client’s capacity for mindfulness and top-down regulation
- Working with the body with body-phobic clients
- Overcoming traumatic reactions through the practice of new actions
- Titrating interventions for dysregulated clients
- Facilitating neuroplasticity through repetition and practice
- Resolving inner conflicts that impede healthy boundaries and defenses
- Working with memory with dysregulated clients
- Reorganizing orienting and defensive responses with dissociative clients
- Helping dysregulated clients sustain dual awareness
- Processing present experience and implicit memory
- Becoming a neurobiological regulator
- Somatic countertransference
- Attunement and contact with fragmented individuals
- Interactive regulatory techniques for dysregulated/dissociative clients
Training Sessions are regularly offered throughout the world. Visit the Upcoming Trainings page for a list of offerings.
Don’t see a Training Session listed near you? Contact Student Services for assistance; a new Training Session may begin soon!