What is Clinical Somatic Education?


Clinical Somatic Education engages the nervous system using an active learning process to help relax muscles and ease pain. First developed by Thomas Hanna, PhD, this process involves slow, focused and gentle movements known as neuromuscular retraining.  Clinical Somatic Education is a direct way to get rid of pain and tension caused by Sensory Motor Amnesia (put hyperlink Kame)



Clinical Somatic Education teaches you how to relax muscles that contribute to pain and tension, allowing you to move past something called Sensory Motor Amnesia, a major contributor to chronic musculoskeletal conditions. 

Even though you move your body as part of Clinical Somatic Education, it’s BRAIN WORK, not bodywork. The education of neuromuscular patterns differs from traditional bodywork, where the person receiving the bodywork is passive (e.g., massage). In somatics, you are an active participant in the process.

Additionally, somatic movement classes are different from other movement classes in that students are asked to actively control movements in a specific way. This allows tight muscles to release for more freedom of movement. As a result, you increase flexibility and improve posture without force.

Muscles don’t move by themselves; they are controlled by the brain (motor cortex). Changing the way the brain messages muscles helps change chronically tight muscle and relieve areas of the body that have pain or discomfort.

Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) and What Causes it?

It is a memory loss of how certain muscle groups feel and how to control them. And because it occurs in the central nervous system, we are not aware of it, yet it affects us to our very core.
— Thomas Hanna

SMA is an adaptive response of the nervous system that is not diagnosable and not treatable through traditional medical or surgical applications. Many clients with SMA are deemed “incurable” or "declining due to the aging process" by medical practitioners. 

This adaptive response to our habits of living is like having a blind spot to certain movement patterns that we used to know.

Sensory Motor Amnesia expresses itself in many ways. For example:     

  • sciatica
  • pelvic pain
  • frozen shoulder
  • digestive issues
  • urinary urgency
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) 
  • limited range of motion
  • muscle tightness, pain or dysfunction 
  • low-back syndrome
  • hip pain
  • plantar fasciitis
  • carpal tunnel


What Causes Sensory Motor Amnesia?

Based in the nervous system, SMA develops from a person’s response to stress and trauma, creating a newly learned adaptive response that is repeated over time. People who have SMA hold some muscles contracted all the time, essentially developing patterns to one or more stress responses.

These repeated forces or habits become a traumatic insult to your nervous system, directly impacting your body, posture, muscles and skeletal structure. The contractions are so deeply involuntary and unconscious that a person who has SMA no longer remembers how to move about freely. SMA can occur from childhood onward or at any age.  If you have any soreness, muscle fatigue or think you're declining from aging, chances are you have areas affected by these blind spots.


      Common causes of Sensory Motor Amnesia include:   

  • Long-term sustained stress
  • Specific sudden trauma, such as automobile accident, fall, injury or surgery
  • Habituated movement patterns such as daily computer use with poor posture and other habits including activity/sport repeated over and over


How to Correct Sensory Motor Amnesia

SMA is a learned, adaptive response of the nervous system. Because it is learned, it can be unlearned. SMA requires re-education of the sensory-motor system. Traditional medical interventions and treatments are not effective for getting to the root causes of Sensory Motor Amnesia.

No amount of stretching can undo tight muscles—you have to change patterns originating from the nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). Sensory Motor Amnesia can only be relieved by one method: Re-educating the brain’s voluntary sensory motor cortex. This process helps control muscles that are constantly in a state of contraction and allows for full muscle relaxation or release.  This is the focus of Clinical Somatic Education.

Re-education occurs through inner awareness, proprioception (i.e., the ability to sense the position, orientation and movement of the body and its parts), and a combination of somatic “first person” awareness (also called interoception) and “third person” support (i.e., guidance from a Clinical Somatic Educator).

Quote above from: Thomas Hanna, Somatics: Reawakening of the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health (help on quote, the right order of title, author, copyright???)



((KAME, We're going to use this section for our FAQs and do a link above in a column that takes someone here.


Meet your teacher

(Meet Pam link)

Ready to book a Session

(Link to contact page)


Still have Questions?

Many people who are new to Clinical Somatic Education are curious why their discomfort can’t be addressed with traditional approaches.

Here are answers to FAQs to understand why this work will benefit you.        (link to page)


For more information on SMA and Somatic Education, please read the book Somatics: Reawakening of the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health by Thomas Hanna.