Somatic Experiencing® Informed Therapeutic Group for the Care and Treatment of Biopsychosocial Effects upon a Gender Diverse Identity.

I present to you my very first peer reviewed journal article publication: Somatic Experiencing® Informed Therapeutic Group for the Care and Treatment of Biopsychosocial Effects upon a Gender Diverse Identity. This research article discusses the process and outcomes of a study of a group of Transgender folks. Individuals participated in a 10 week Somatic Experiencing® informed support and education group. The group was designed to assist participants with opportunities to learn ways to build resiliency, to decrease the negative symptoms of depression and anxiety, and to better cope with the effects of microaggressions and discrimination.


body-movement-journalMalkina-Pykh, I. G. (2015). Effectiveness of rhythmic movement therapy: Case study of subjective well-being. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 10(2), 106-120.

The following study was to assess the effectiveness of Rhythmic Movement Therapy (RMT) in improving Subjective Well-Being (SWB) in a non-clinical population. Subjective Well-Being is defined as a person’s declared well-being based on their perceived satisfaction with life or happiness. According to the literature review, body-oriented interventions are still in the early stages for demonstrating increases in SWB. RMT is defined as a psychological intervention that is rooted in body-oriented psychotherapy, dance movement psychotherapy, and rhythmic gymnastics. In the research design, subjects were divided into a low to medium SWB level group and a high SWB level group. Group 1 was randomly assigned to 10 RMT groups and 5 control groups. The RMT intervention consisted of 16 once-a-week sessions of 45-50 minutes. Several questionnaires were collected from 273 subjects. The questionnaires that were used to assess SWB were: the Integral Index of Social Well-Being (IISW), Personal Orientation Inventory, the General Locus of Control Scale of the Locus of Control Inventory (LOC), the Neuroticism Scale from the Eysenck Personality Inventory, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Body Image Test, the Personal Perfectionism Scale (PPS), the Sociotropy Scale of the Personal Style Inventory, and the Symbol Personality Test. Results indicated improvement in SWB level in subjects from the RMT group compared to the subjects of the control groups.

What I liked about the study is that based on all of the personality variables used to measure SWB, there were significant associations between SWB and neuroticism, high self-directedness, external locus of control, low levels of alexithymia, low body image dissatisfaction, low sociotropy and low perfectionism. In this case, I felt the researcher operationalized the concept of SWB quite well. However, I thought that it would have been useful to provide test-retest reliability and alpha coefficients for all tests used in the study in order for readers to understand why such instruments were selected. I also appreciated that the researcher demonstrated all of the statistical analyses performed on the data and that the data demonstrated improvements that were statistically significant between all variables. The researcher mentioned that there were some limitations to the study such as providing only a partial explanation for the influence of personality on SWB; that the statistics used do not prove causality; that the IISW test did not include a family domain which SWB studies argue is one of the most important domains; the study sample is small; and that the effectiveness of RMT is not compared to other methods of treatment.

What is significant about this study for the field of body psychotherapy is that body-oriented therapy, such as RMT, can positively influence one’s level of happiness in life and that this is now being demonstrated by research. I appreciate that the author mentions not only do such interventions increase SWB at individual levels, but such interventions stimulate the development of increasing SWB at public policy levels. I feel that our field needs more studies that show the effectiveness of body-oriented therapies and as the author recommends, that such interventions be compared to other therapies and that longer studies with follow-ups are needed to better assess the effectiveness of treatments. I truly believe that body-oriented therapy is on its way to becoming the standard of doing therapy where the body is seen as a necessary component to treatment for psychological recovery and well-being. As Jack Lee Rosenberg stated years ago, it will one day be “unethical to do therapy without a somatic perspective” (as cited in Caldwell, 1997, p. 6).

Caldwell, C. (1997). Getting in touch: The guide to new body-centered therapies. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.

Sharon StopforthSharon Stopforth, MSW, RSW has been a counselor for 15 years specializing in anxiety, depression, addiction, abuse and trauma. Sharon is a Certified Integrative Body Psychotherapy practitioner and is currently working on her Ph.D. to further research in the field of body psychotherapy.

SE_logo_150x150We are excited to announce an important training opportunity. Space is limited so please sign up soon!

The training will be conducted in Virginia and will include one of our best-trained and highly seasoned teams. Participants in the training will have a chance to be one of the treatment providers in a foundational study on SE.
This study will be conducted in collaboration with Attachment and Trauma Institute in Virginia. It has the real possibility to contribute its data to supporting the development of trauma informed care standards in the state of Virginia. This study could provide an important foundation for developing a body-oriented autonomic regulation model of trauma informed care within the state.

Furthermore, if successful, it could be adopted in state run agencies and hospitals and recognized by insurance panels within the state. The state of Virginia was recently nationally chosen as one of two states whose current trauma informed care systemic model statewide will be closely evaluated for its implementation, screening, assessment, applied treatment and outcomes. Outcomes will benefit treatment recommendations in medical and psychiatric hospitals in
both adolescent and adult units, statewide child welfare agencies and local community service boards. Cumulative outcomes gathered after two years will benefit the advancement of body based regulatory models of treatment for some of the most traumatized individuals in our society leading to national awareness.

Participants in this SE training will have the chance to be a treatment provider in this study. While being a treatment provider for this study is not required to participate in this training, those who do participate in this study will have increased training opportunities and receive a high level training experience.

This study will measure changes in trauma symptoms, symptoms of dissociation, general mental health symptoms and quality of life in children and adults. Providers who are willing to participate in the study will be trained on a 10-session treatment protocol.

Providers will receive referrals (5-10 per year) from the research team, who they will have the chance to work with for 10-sessions. During the 10-session treatment providers will receive regular ongoing case consultation.

Providers role in data collection will be minimal (letting the research team know that a client has started and completed treatment). All data will be held anonymously and there will be no way for researchers to connect the outcomes of the study to individual clients or practitioners.

The comprehensive training experiences will include:

1. An extra yearly training on a 10 session SE protocol that helps you develop specific skills to foster emotion regulation in your clients

2. Monthly small group case consultation by some of our best-trained and most seasoned assistants.

3. Regular referrals with ongoing case consultation support This study will assess changes in SE clients over the course of treatment. Providers in this study will also be given regular referrals from the SE study. This will give you as a training participant a unique opportunity to have treatment experience with ongoing case management support.

We will be studying three client populations: Adults with trauma, families with attachment and trauma, and our military.

If you or some of your colleagues work with any of these populations and are interested in studying the impact of SE on clinical treatment, please consider signing up or contacting your colleagues about this opportunity. In order to join the training one must have a degree in mental health or work in a medical profession. Those who have signed up for this training will be contacted by the research team via email. The email will include information about the study and how one can become a provider in the study, information about the procedures used in the study, the study protocol and the training process.

If you would like more information about the study before signing up for the training please feel free to contact the Somatic Experiencing Research Coalition Chair, Michael Changaris, PsyD at
The beginning module I begins June 5-8.
You can review more details about the training or sign up on our website:

Or call the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (SETI)
directly at(303) 652-4035
Please sign up for the training or refer respected colleagues today.

Space is in the training is limited.

Sharon Stopforth

Edwards, J. (2015). Exploring sensory sensitivities and relationships during group dance movement psychotherapy for adults with autism. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 10(1), 5-20.

The following study was conducted to explore the sensory experiences of adults with autism using Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). The author was interested in observing the attachment behaviors of adults with autism and finding out how they form relationships. The author used a case study design and justified using a qualitative design in order to explore human experience. As a result of selecting this design, only four participants were observed over an eight week period. To avoid bias, the researcher kept a reflexive journal and invited another researcher to observe the participants in order to compare findings. The researcher was aware that her extensive knowledge and experience working with autistic clients and her training as a dance movement therapist would potentially lead to bias. The researcher attempted to address this bias by asking a therapist with different training to be a co-researcher. Findings showed that participants experienced sensory sensitivities that influenced their relationships. The participants were able to adjust to each other’s sensory needs and become more aware of each other’s emotional and mental state. The researcher concluded that more research is needed for the autistic adult population.
The researcher did an excellent job in describing the literature available on autism, sensory integration and attachment theory. I was happy to see that she dispelled the myth that autistic children are the result of being brought up in an environment lacking emotional warmth. Instead, she mentioned new research that shows there is a neurobiological and sensory basis to autism. Also, she points out that a recent study shows that children with autism are able to form healthy attachments. The researcher also was thorough in describing the aim of her study and outlining her research questions. Often, in my experience, authors of research articles fail to put the aim of their study and research questions in clear terms. I appreciated that the researcher recruited another researcher to record observations in order to minimize bias. The researcher presented the findings with rich descriptions from the participants as well as entries from her journal and from the co-researcher.

The researcher states that a limitation of the study was the small number of participants and cannot be generalized. By choosing to conduct a qualitative study, a small sample size is justified. Case studies generally do not exceed a sample size of four or five cases (Creswell, 2007). A case study is a good approach when the inquirer seeks to provide an in-depth understanding of the cases (Creswell, 2007). I feel one of the limitations of the study was that only well-functioning individuals were selected. Perhaps different results would have arisen had the participants been lower functioning. I appreciate that notes on the contributor were included about the researcher and her background, however I would have liked to see something about the background of the co-researcher in this section to get a sense of the differences between them and how this may have informed the study.

This study contributes to knowledge in the field of body psychotherapy by using a somatic intervention with a population that experiences difficulty in communicating verbally. What is unique about this study is that it demonstrates a relationship between sensory processing and our ability to develop attachments and form relationships. As more research is conducted in this area, hopefully it will provide more evidence that somatic interventions provide a missing link that verbal therapies cannot regarding the brain and attachment.

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reviewed by Sharon Stopforth

Sharon Stopforth, MSW, RSW has been a counselor for 15 years specializing in anxiety, depression, addiction, abuse and trauma. Sharon is a Certified Integrative Body Psychotherapy practitioner and is currently working on her Ph.D. to further research in the field of body psychotherapy.