Frequently Asked Questions

Many people who are new to Clinical Somatic Education (AKA: Clinical Somatics and Hanna Somatics,

depending on your practitioner) are curious as to why their discomfort can’t be addressed with traditional approaches. 

Here are a some FAQs to understand why this work will benefit you.

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Q.  Can’t I just stretch if my muscles are tight?

Muscles that are tight cannot be stretched to a new length by an external force.

  • Muscles must be actively lengthened and this is an internal neural event that takes place in the sensory-motor area of the brain.

  • Unfortunately, stretching doesn’t work for long-term results because

    A) it often triggers the stretch reflex. This ancient reflexive pattern is a primary defensive motor reflex that causes muscles to tighten in order to protect themselves from tearing, or to protect tendon from tearing apart from bone. This signal of the stretch reflex only goes as far as the spinal cord, which immediately sends the signal back to the muscles to tighten and protect.

    B) stretching messages only to the spinal cord and not the brain, so the pattern remains the same and long lasting shifts, don’t occur.

  • If you want to recalibrate and get a daily stretch, that’s great; however, the muscles will only lengthen to where they are able to in that moment.

If you really want to change the potential of your muscles over time, you need to work with the brain, which is the focus of Clinical Somatic Education. 

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 Q.  Is Clinical Somatic Education Right for me?

Clinical Somatic Education is beneficial for most people (both young and old).


Due to habituated or overused movement patterns, muscles become held in an unconscious and chronic contraction (i.e. due to sport/activity, car accident, repetitive stress, sitting at a computer, texting or wearing certain footwear).  These are just some of the associated daily stressors from our movement or lack of movement habits.


The nervous system learns to adapt to these patterns and postures, leading to a larger impact on health and imbalances.

The way we move, stand and sit every day, and over the course of our lives, causes much of the chronic pain, reoccurring injuries, and even joint degeneration, experienced in our culture. These patterns are not noticeable at first. You might detect an imbalance in your posture or discomfort in the way you perform an activity.

As this imbalance becomes a chronic condition (as occurs with low-back syndrome, knee-joint pain, sciatica, frozen shoulder, etc.), you might go to the doctor who attributes this chronic condition to age or lifestyle . Medical practitioners often prescribe medicine, surgery or other forms of therapy. If none of these interventions help long term, you might come to the conclusion that you’re trying to eliminate symptoms without investigating the root of the problem.

Clinical Somatic Education addresses the root of the problem through focused, gentle movements that reprogram what you’re currently doing and improve your movement patterns, which in turn, improve your daily activities.


Q.  How is Clinical Somatic Education different from Yoga or Pilates?

Instead of focusing on strengthening around an affected joint or stretching muscles around that joint, Somatic Movement Education retrains the nervous system to get back to controlling muscles and joints properly.

During a Somatic Movement class, students experience many of the same benefits that yoga and Pilates provide, such as improved flexibility, breathing, relaxation, spirituality and health. 


No it is not similar at all.

  • Originally used by chiropractors, ART treats your body’s soft tissue by combining manipulation and movement to target the affected area to break up scar tissue.

  • During an ART session, your healthcare provider will apply a precise pressure and use the technique to manipulate or break up the scar tissue - this can be very painful for people with a low tolerance for pain.

  • Two big differences between Clinical Somatic Education and Active Release Technique is: (1) the receiver is active in Somatics and passive in ART and (2) most importantly, Somatics involves gentle pain-free movement.

  • Clinical Somatic Education uses hands-on tools/techniques to teach clients to change their own neuromuscular system.


Q.  How does Clinical Somatic Education differ from other healing modalities, such as physical therapy, massage and chiropractic care?

A Clinical Somatic Educator uses sophisticated hands-on tools/techniques to teach clients to change their own neuromuscular system.

  • Other typical hands-on therapies (e.g., physical therapy, massage and chiropractic care) tend to do the work for the client through external hands-on manipulation. In other words, the receiver of the work is passive.

  • This is a major difference between Clinical Somatics and other healing therapies; the receiver is active in Clinical Somatics, rather than passive.

  • Unlike other healing modalities, Clinical Somatics doesn’t focus solely on strengthening muscles or joints or realigning bones. Those benefits do occur with Clinical Somatics; however, it happens over time as you undo years of habitual patterns through reprogramming the neuromuscular system.

Clinical Somatics is a good complement to these other therapies. Often in the healing process, many doctors and physical therapists recommend more than one type of treatment for maximum benefits. 

Clinical Somatics and Somatic Movement classes will support your healing and continue to benefit your overall health and wellness.  In other words, Clinical Somatics isn't only for those in pain.  It's adaptable for any human being because each of us experiences holding patterns caused by stress and life’s activities.


Q.  Is Clinical Somatic Education a form of “bodywork”?

It is different than traditional “bodywork” and would be more accurate to say, it’s a form of “brain-work.”

  • Essentially, the practitioner acts as a facilitator for the client to actively re-educate and recalibrate the brain’s feedback loop as it messages muscles.

  • In somatics, the client is ACTIVE, focused and part of the process and progress.

According to the Somatic Systems Institute, “the practitioner does move the client’s body, but this movement is entirely for the purpose of altering signals in the brain and central nervous system to change how the nervous system interacts with, and controls, the rest of the body.”

Q.  Will Clinical Somatic Education work in conjunction with other therapies?

YES. Clinical Somatics is a good complement to other therapies, such as physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care.

These latter therapies may initially eliminate pain and can set the stage for a more long-term solution using Clinical Somatics.

With Clinical Somatics, clients learn to do the work on their own for more lasting improvements and to avoid reoccurrences. This is a win-win approach for people who would like to benefit from multiple therapies.

Be your own health advocate and choose what feels right for you.  There is no 'ONE' therapy for ALL, we are unique and it could be beneficial to try more than one type of therapeutic approach.