Somatic and Spiritual Psychology is the new science of the human condition. This holistic approach to inquiry and to healing transcends the mechanistic paradigms of twentieth century psychology (cognitive behaviorism and reductive versions of psychoanalysis), and recognizes the inherent divinity of every human being — his or her capacity to live an awakened life in Love. 

 

Somatic and Spiritual Psychology draws both from the most inspiring contemporary practices of therapy — which are holistic, dynamic and energetic — and from ancient traditions of spiritual wisdom. The central tenet of this discipline is to understand the lived experience of the individual as that of embodied spirituality. 

 

This degree program offers maximal flexibility and openness to the diversity of creative approaches to learning, and the program is ideally suited for individuals who have developed interests in the following five areas:

 

  • Bodymind — Somatic — Psychotherapy

  • Yoga and Associated Somatic-Spiritual Practices

  • Clinical / Educational Human Sexuality

  • Tantric, Taoist, Sufi and Related Traditions of Spirituality

  • Shamanic Traditions of Healing and Cosmology

Somatic and Spiritual Psychology

Masters Program:  45 Credits
(31 Credits in Required Courses, 14 Credits in Electives​)

Doctorate Program:  90 Credits
(54 Credits in Required Courses, 36 Credits in Electives)

Combined Masters/Doctorate Program:  120 Credits
(54 Credits in Required Courses, 66 Credits in Electives)

Course credits toward your degree may be earned in the following ways:

 

  1. Taking courses at other universities or colleges.

  2. Students may request and submit for IUPS approval (through their mentors), permission to earn credits for workshops, and other programs not mentioned above.

  3. Many students earn course credits by having their mentor assign books to read on the course topic, and writing papers that demonstrate their understanding of the assigned material. Credits can also be obtained by attending conferences, workshops, and retreats as well as through assigned projects. A key criteria for earning credits in this manner is for students to demonstrate how learning this subject matter impacts their lives personally and professionally. Integration of course material is of paramount importance at IUPS. 

  4. Students also have the opportunity to design their own electives, truly giving students the opportunity to customize their education. A sample syllabus is provided to assist students in meeting university standards. The student submits the proposed course syllabus to the mentor and the university for approval.

Course #     Credits    Required Core Courses for Masters
SSP 501           3         Foundations of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology
SSP 502           3         Somatic Awareness
SSP 503           3         Principles of Conscious Relationships
SSP 504           3         Somatic Centered Therapies
SSP 505           3         Spiritual Therapy Approaches

SSP 506           3         Neuroscience and Somatic Spiritual Psychology

SSP 507           3         Tantric Traditions of Healing and Cosmology
SSP 590         10         Masters Thesis Project

Course#     Credits    Required Core Courses for Doctorates

SSP 501          3         Foundations of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology
SSP 502          3         Somatic Awareness
SSP 503          3         Principles of Conscious Relationships
SSP 504          3         Somatic Centered Therapies
SSP 505          3         Spiritual Therapy Approaches
SSP 601          3         Spiritual Traditions
SSP 602          3         Readings in Embodied Spirituality     
SSP 603          3         Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Relationships
SSP 604          3         Principles of Yoga
SSP 605          3         Introduction to Shamanic Practices
SSP 606          3         Approaches to Somatic Human Sexuality
SSP 607          6         Practicum/Internship in Somatic and Spiritual Psychology
SSP 690        15         Dissertation Research Project

Electives

Below are examples of electives that one may consider taking as part of this degree program in Somatic and Spiritual Psychology. Students, in concert with their mentors, shall determine which electives are most relevant to their educational aspirations.


Course #    Credits      Courses

SSP 650        2 - 5        Readings in Embodied Spirituality
SSP 651        2 - 5        Progressing in Meditation
SSP 652        2 - 5        Theories of Bodywork
SSP 653        2 - 5        Readings in Shamanic Practice
SSP 654        2 - 5        Advanced Study of Interpersonal Relationships
SSP 655        2 - 5        Advances in Somatic Human Sexuality
SSP 656        2 - 5        The Spiritual‑Erotic Dimension in Contemporary Culture
SSP 657        2 - 5        Practicum in Embodied Spirituality
SSP 658        2 - 5        Practice of Living in Meditation
SSP 659        2 - 5        Advanced Study of Yoga
SSP 660        2 - 5        Practicum in Bodywork
SSP 661        2 - 5        Practicum in Shamanic Practice
SSP 663        2 - 5        Advanced Methods of Embodied Meditation
SSP 664        2 - 5        History and Philosophy of Yogic Practice
SSP 665        2 - 5        Neuroscience and Meditation
SSP 666        2 - 5        Altered States of Consciousness
SSP 667        2 - 5        Neuroscience and Somatic‑Spiritual Psychology
SSP 668        2 - 5        The Body in Human Experience
SSP 669        2 - 5        Aspects of Somatic and Emotional Growth
SSP 670        2 - 5        Teaching Embodied Processes to Solo Practitioners
SSP 671        2 - 5        Teaching Embodied Processes to Partnered Practitioners
SSP 672        2 - 5        Teaching Embodied Processes in Workshop Settings
SSP 673        2 - 5        Ethics of Healing Relationships
SSP 674        2 - 5        Sexuality and Culture throughout History
SSP 675        2 - 5        History of the Hindu–Jain Lineages
SSP 676        2 - 5        History of the Buddhist Lineages
SSP 677        2 - 5        History and Practices of Taoism
SSP 678        2 - 5        History and Practices of Sufism
SSP 679        2 - 5        Embodied Spirituality in the “Religions of the Book”
SSP 680        2 - 5        Advanced Readings in Somatic and Energetic Psychology
SSP 681        2 - 5        Images of the Goddess
SSP 682        2 - 5        Advanced Readings in Ecology and Spiritual Practice
SSP 683        2 - 5        Readings in Liberation Psychology
SSP 684        2 - 5        Witnessing Embodied Spiritual Practice
SSP 685        2 - 5        Diversity and Embodied Spirituality

Somatic and Spiritual Psychology - Selected Course Descriptions

(Please note: All Doctoral coursework (600 courses) involve more advanced research and in-depth study.)

 

REQUIRED CORE COURSES

For further course descriptions, please contact the University


SSP 501  Foundations of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology

SSP 502  Somatic Awareness

SSP 503  Principles of Conscious Relationships

Contemporary literature on interpersonal relations and intimacy is surveyed, including the most recent research and theory on relating with awareness and cultivating love.  An experiential component to this course is optional.  Some focus on the connection between conscious relationships and individual somatic-spiritual practices is included.

 

SSP 504  Somatic Centered Therapies

 

SSP 505  Spiritual Therapy Approaches

 

SSP 506   Neuroscience and Somatic Spiritual Psychology

SSP 507   Tantric Traditions of Healing and Cosmology

 

SSP 590  Masters Thesis Project (Masters program only)
A Masters level thesis is required and the proposal must be submitted to the mentor and department chair. Upon approval, students will work with their mentors to gain direction for research, format, and editing. This project may be an extended essay on a topic of special interest, a comprehensive literature review on a specialty issue, a write-up of some research undertaken, or a report of a project such as a workshop that the learner has designed and facilitated. The thesis will be a culmination of the student’s knowledge, making a significant contribution to the field of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology.

 Approaches to Somatic Sexology

SSP 601  Spiritual Traditions
This course introduces students to the world’s spiritual and religious traditions, with their different cosmologies and practices. It focuses in particular on how these traditions view the human body and how the body is involved in spiritual practices. An experiential component of the course is optional if students wish to experience physical spiritual practices like meditation techniques, fasting, and yoga.

 

SSP 602  Readings in Embodied Spirituality
This course reviews spiritual texts and research on the experiences and practices of embodied spirituality. Readings include Yogic, Hindu, Buddhist, Tantric, Christian, Jewish, and other texts that give insight into different spiritual traditions’ views of the body and its role in spiritual practice. They also include studies on the physical and psychological effects of these practices.

 

SSP 603  Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Relationships
A good therapeutic relationship is the basis for all psychological work with a clients. This course acquaints students with the basic theories on how the therapeutic relationship both succeeds and fails. It provides tools for creating beneficial therapeutic relationships with clients, and addresses ethical issues presented in all therapeutic relationships, but particularly when the treatment involves physical techniques and sexuality.

 

SSP 604  Principles of Yoga
This course provides an overview of the theory behind the different types of Yoga and how those theories have been implemented in the form of physical spiritual practices. Readings will include Yogic texts, modern interpretations of Yoga, and studies on the effects of Yogic practices. An experiential component of Yogic practice is optional.

SSP 605  Introduction to Shamanic Practices
This course surveys the literature on anthropological and psychological studies of shamanic practices and how they evolved in various cultures. It also looks at the shamanic practices found in modern Western culture. Students may opt to add an experiential component to the course and attend or participate in shamanic rituals.

 

SSP 606 Approaches to Somatic Human Sexuality
Completion of SSP 504 is prerequisite for this more comprehensive training to acquaint individuals with the erotic potential of their embodiment via methods of breath-work, touch, massage, and pelvic release.

 

SSP 607  Practicum / Internship in Somatic and Spiritual Psychology
Under the guidance of the Program Director, learners design and undertake a practicum or internship experience within the general area of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology.

 

SSP 690  Dissertation Research Project
A dissertation is required and the proposal must be submitted to the mentor and department chair. Upon approval, students will work with their mentors to gain direction for research, format, and editing. The dissertation will be a substantial and original contribution to the literature in the field of Somatic and Spiritual Psychology.

 

 

ELECTIVE COURSES


Students enrolled in the Masters program are required to take 20 elective credits, in the Ph.D. program, 36 elective credits, and in the combined M.A./Ph.D. program, 66 elective credits. Elective courses may be recommended by the university to ensure the student receives a well-rounded education and students are encouraged to take electives that focus on their core areas of educational interest. Alternative electives to the courses below may be designed by students and submitted to their mentor and the university for approval, truly giving students to opportunity to customize their education. A sample syllabus can be provided to interested students. In addition, with prior university approval, students can receive course credits for certain relevant workshops and conferences attended.

 

SSP 650  Readings in Embodied Spirituality
Examines in more detail the notion that the lived experience of our embodiment is our access to the divine. Readings draw on tantric literature as well as works from closely related traditions.

 

SSP 651  Progressing in Meditation
This course offers learners the opportunity to deepen their meditation practice, and to experiment with practices that involve “meditating with the body.”

 

SSP 652  Theories of Bodywork
Reviews some of the major approaches to somatic healing, including such methods as Rolfing, Feldenkreis, Alexander technique, etc.

 

SSP 653  Readings in Shamanic Practice
Examines in more detail some of the major methods and beliefs of shamanic practice from various indigenous traditions.

 

SSP 654  Advanced Study of Interpersonal Relationships
Building on SSP 504, this course studies in more detail the theory and practice of conscious relationships and associated issues of intimacy.

 

SSP 655  Advances in Somatic Human Sexuality
Studies in more detail the major theoretical perspectives and healing practices of somatic human sexuality. The emphasis of this course may be more theoretical or more experiential depending on the interest of the learner.

 

SSP 656  The Impact of Repression on the Human Experience  
Surveys the contemporary crises faced by the human species and its planet. This course reviews ways in which the tragedies of genocide, ecocide, and endemic violence can be addressed by looking at the impact of emotional, spiritual, and sexual repression on the human experience. Readings of relevant cultural critics from Marcuse to contemporary work in ecological psychology are discussed.

 

SSP 657  Practicum in Embodied Spirituality
In collaboration with an IUPS Mentor, learners design and implement a personal experience that deepens their appreciation of their own embodied spirituality. Such experiences might be a vision quest, a program of relevant training, etc.

 

SSP 658  Practice of Living in Meditation
By reviewing a range of contemporary spiritual leaders, this course will inquire deeply into the practice of meditation, as well as reviewing contemporary findings in the psychology and neuroscience of consciousness.

 

SSP 659  Advanced Study of Yoga
Building on SSP 604, this course is for the learner interested in deeper study and experience within the ancient and contemporary practices of yoga.

 

SSP 660  Practicum in Bodywork
Learners select a particular modality of somatic healing and deepen their own experience of its methodology.

 

SSP 661  Practicum in Shamanic Practice
Learners engage in an apprentice relationship with a bone fide shamanic practitioner, and learn some of his/her ways of working.

 

SSP 663  Advanced Methods of Embodied Meditation
Specifically examines meditation practices that dynamically involve the body, including methods of breathing, moving, dancing.

 

SSP 664  History and Philosophy of Yogic Practice
Building on SSP 604 and SSP 658, this course is intended for learners who teach, or who intend to teach, some type of yoga practice.  It reviews more intensively the great traditions of yoga in all eight aspects, as defined by Patanjali and as developed into the contemporary world.

 

SSP 665  Neuroscience and Meditation
Surveys the current neuroscientific literature on the beneficial effects of meditation on the functioning and chemistry of the brain.

 

SSP 666  Altered States of Consciousness
Reviews the literature on altered states of consciousness as induced by pharmacological agents, by breathwork, and by other methodologies.

SSP 667  Neuroscience and Somatic-Spiritual Psychology
Building on SSP 665, this course enables the learner to study more intensively the findings of contemporary neuroscience that are pertinent to the concerns of somatic and spiritual psychology.

 

SSP 668  The Body in Human Experience
Examines the notion of the “lived experience of embodiment” as it has been developed in phenomenological and other philosophical literatures.

 

SSP 669  Aspects of Somatic and Emotional Growth
A course in comparative psychotherapy, with a strong emphasis on the development of dynamic methodologies in the course of the twentieth century.

 

SSP 670  Teaching Embodied Processes to Solo Practitioners   
Reviews the basics of any one-on-one healing relationship including such matters as the intersubjective field, the relevance of “transference” and “countertransference,” and addressing difficulties and breakdowns in the healing process.

 

SSP 671  Teaching Embodied Processes to Partnered Practitioners
Completion of SSP 657 is a prerequisite for this course, which examines the challenges of coaching couples in embodied spiritual practices.

 

SSP 672  Teaching Embodied Processes in Workshop Settings
Completion of SSP 657 is a prerequisite for this course, which offers learners the fundamental skills of designing and implementing a workshop.

 

SSP 673  Ethics of Healing Relationships
Examines the nature and crucial importance of ethical conduct in healing relationships, with a particular emphasis on issues of consent, boundary, and explicit communication.

 

SSP 674  Sexuality and Culture throughout History
Completion of SSP 655 is a prerequisite for this course, which offers the opportunity for learners to examine more deeply the processes by which different cultures have curtailed sexual freedoms.

 

SSP 675  History of the Hindu-Jain Lineages
Examines the distinctive features and practices of embodied spirituality in the Hindu-Jain traditions.

 

SSP 676  History of the Buddhist Lineages
Examines the distinctive features and practices of embodied spirituality in the Buddhist traditions.

 

SSP 677  History and Practices of Taoism
Examines more deeply the embodied spirituality of Taoist practice.

 

SSP 678  History and Practices of Sufism
Examines more deeply the embodied spirituality of Sufi practice.

 

SSP 679  Embodied Spirituality in the “Religions of the Book”
This course offers learners the opportunity to investigate the place of embodied spiritual practice in the  Judaic-Christian-Islamic traditions.

 

SSP 680  Advanced Readings in Somatic and Energetic Psychology 
Reviews the development of somatic and energetic psychology as it has entered the awareness of the western world.   

 

SSP 681  Images of the Goddess
Learners explore the significance of Goddess imagery and mythology, as well as the practical experience of the energies of the Goddess, in their personal and professional practice.

 

SSP 682  Advanced Readings in Ecology and Spiritual Practice
Examines the interconnected intentionality of somatic spirituality and ecological awareness.  The importance of promoting an understanding of this interconnectedness is emphasized.

 

SSP 683  Readings in Liberation Psychology
Basic texts in liberation psychology are read with the intent of understanding their significance for the practice of embodied spirituality.

 

SSP 684  Witnessing Embodied Spiritual Practice
Helps the learner to develop skills of writing, speaking, and teaching, that are necessary to propagate the vision of somatic and spiritual psychology.

 

SSP 685  Diversity and Embodied Spirituality
Examines the development of teachings directed toward particular populations; for example, the development of gay and lesbian tantra, transgendered tantra, etc.

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