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USABP lifetime achievement award 

The Field of Body Psychotherapy continues to grow.
Discovering new ways to bring healing and transformation to clients and society.

Our Award events honor the many positive contributing milestones in our history.
And from time to time it is in special order that we take time to honor a few individuals in particular.
We are pleased each year to present Award Recipients to honor them and all that they represent in our industry.

Join us at our next Award Ceremony.
At each USABP conference a body psychotherapist has been recognized for their lifetime achievements specifically in the field of body psychotherapy by impacting the field, contributing to the body of knowledge, expanding the audience, mobilizing the community, and support of the field at large.

The following individuals have been awarded the USABP Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for these accomplishments. 

award recipients

      2023 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Don Hanlon Johnson

Don Hanlon Johnson is a renowned figure in the field of Somatic Psychology. He began his journey over 50 years ago, as a philosophy teacher at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, where he worked on a research project with Carl Rogers on student-centered learning. Johnson's intersection of humanistic psychology with Socratic and Husserlian philosophy, meditation, and visits to the Esalen Institute helped shape his approach to therapist and healer education. He founded the first masters degree program in Somatic Psychology, which was authorized by license-granting state boards, and was a professor in the program for 30 years. Don Hanlon Johnson is currently teaching in the newly launched Somatics emphasis in the doctoral program of Integral and Transpersonal Psychologies. More detailed information can be found on his website

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Judyth O. Weaver, Ph.D.

Judyth O. Weaver is a multifaceted teacher and counselor, incorporating extensive training in diverse areas. She holds a Ph.D. in Reichian Psychology. Judyth is the creator and founding chair of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute Ph.D. Program in Somatic Psychology. She taught at the California Institute of Integral Studies (San Francisco, CA) for 25 years and at other graduate schools in the S.F. Bay area as well as being founding faculty at Naropa Institute, now Naropa University, (Boulder, CO) in the 1970’s, creating it’s T’ai Chi Ch’uan program. She is certified in Reichian Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, massage, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Pre- and Perinatal Therapy and as a teacher of Tai Chi Chuan, a senior teacher of the Rosen Method and Sensory Awareness. A former modern dancer, she lived in Japan 1965-1968, studying classical dance (Kabuki and Noh), tea ceremony, and other aspects of Japanese culture. She then lived and studied at Shofukuji, a traditional Rinzai Zen Buddhist monastery, under Yamada Mumon Roshi. Since 1969 she has taught and led workshops at Esalen Institute in California, Hollyhock in Canada, and other educational centers in the western world, as well as in Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and India. Her life-long studies have been in dance, body/mind/spirit integrative practices, Buddhist practice and Taoism. Judyth now lives in Seattle, Washington, having relocated there to be closer to her grandchildren. Judyth maintains a private practice in Somatic Reclaiming, her development of body/mind/spiritual integration, which bases its work on the belief that we are all born basically whole, with what we need, but traumas, teachings, etc. confuse and deter us and that with support and awareness we can reclaim our natural inclinations and live the full lives that are our birthrights. Judyth’s private practice is in Seattle, Washington and on Cortes Island, B.C. She also travels and teaches elsewhere throughout the world.

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D.

Eugene T. Gendline (born Eugen Gendelin; 25 December 1926, Vienna) is an American philosopher and psychotherapist who developed ways of thinking about and working with living process, the bodily felt sense and the ‘philosophy of the implicit’. Gendlin received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1958 from the University of Chicago where he became an Associate Professor in the departments of Philosophy and Psychology. He taught there from 1964 until 1995. He is best known for Focusing and for Thinking at the Edge, two procedures for thinking with more than patterns and concepts.

Focusing emerged from Gendlin’s collaboration with psychologist Carl Rogers. Gendlin developed a way of measuring the extent to which an individual refers to a felt sense; and he found in a series of studies that therapy clients who have positive outcomes do much more of this. He then developed a way to teach people to refer to their felt sense, so clients could do better in therapy. This training is called ‘Focusing’. Further research showed that Focusing can be used outside of therapy to address a variety of issues. It is described in Gendlin’s book, Focusing, which has sold over 400,000 copies and is printed in twelve languages.

In 1970, Gendlin was the first person to receive the “Distinguished Professional Award in Psychology and Psychotherapy” from the Psychotherapy Division (Division 29) of the American Psychological Association. In 2000, Gendlin also received, along with The Focusing Institute, the Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award from the Society of Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of the American Psychological Association). In 2007 he was a recipient of the Viktor Frankl Award of the City of Vienna for outstanding achievements in the field of meaning-oriented humanistic psychotherapy.

The worldwide dissemination of Focusing has been facilitated by The Focusing Institute. This nonprofit organization supports the spread of information and research about Focusing, and promotes diversity of practice amongst Focusing teachers.

Past Lifetime Achievement Recipients


ALBERT PESSO is a master therapist and trainer who co-founded Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP) in 1961 with his wife Diane Boyden-Pesso. Considered a groundbreaking pioneer in the field of body psychotherapy, he is now in his fifth decade as a therapist and trainer. Pesso travels the world overseeing the 10 PBSP training centers, runs experiential and training workshops, offers private therapy and executive coaching, and continues to create cutting edge new therapy techniques and theories.

To listen to the March 2012 Somatic Perspectives interview with Al Pesso click here (part 2)

To read a transcript of his acceptance speech click here.


PETER A. LEVINE, PH.D. received his doctorate in medical biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a doctorate in psychology from International University. He is the developer of Somatic Experiencing® and founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He teaches throughout the world.  Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA on the development of the space shuttle project. He was a member of the Institute of World Affairs Task Force of “Psychologists for Social Responsibility” and served on the APA “Presidential Initiative on responding to large scale disasters and ethno-political warfare”.

Peter wrote: “Waking the Tiger,” “Healing Trauma, A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” “Trauma through a Child’s Eyes; Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing,” “Trauma-Proofing your Kids; A Parents Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience.” Coming up this September:  “In an Unspoken Voice, How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.”

To listen to the April 2010 Somatic Perspective Interview click here.


RON KURTZ, originator of Hakomi Therapy and the founder of the Hakomi Institute began to develop Hakomi in the 1970’s.   Following graduate training in experimental psychology, Ron first taught at San Francisco State College, also leading encounter groups, and studying Gestalt. He became a client of John Pierrakos, founder of Bioenergetics, began to read the work of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen, and was inspired by the work of Albert Pesso. He describes these experiences as “the beginnings of the Hakomi Method”.  Ron was an internationally renowned therapist who led workshops and trainings throughout the world. He has taught at many institutions, including Indiana University, Santa Barbara Graduate School, and Esalen Institute. He was the author/co-author of three books: Body-Centered Psychotherapy: The Hakomi Method; The Body Reveals (with Hector Prestera), and Grace Unfolding: Psychotherapy in the Spirit of the Tao-te ching (with Greg Johanson).

To listen to the April 2008 Somatic Perspectives Interview with Ron Kurtz click here.

To listen to the recording of Ron Kurtz at the 2008 USABP conference click here.


STANLEY KELEMAN has been practicing and developing somatic therapy for over thirty-five years and is a pioneer in his study of the body and its connection to the sexual, emotional, psychological and imaginative aspects of human experience.Through his writings and practice, he has developed a methodology and conceptual framework for the life of the body. He is the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the European Body Psychotherapy Association as well as USABP.  He received an honorary Ph.D. from Saybrook University for his contributions to the field of body psychotherapy and humanistic psychology. He is the author of numerous books including Emotional Anatomy, Embodying Experience and The Body Speaks Its Mind.

To listen to the March 2008 Somatic Perspectives Interview with Stanley Keleman click here.

To listen to the June 2009 Somatic Perspectives Interview with Stanley Keleman click here.


ILANA RUBENFELD has been called “the Great Mother of the body-oriented therapy movement,” a stand-up comic, and, last but not least, a world-recognized pioneer in integrating psychotherapy, intuition and bodywork. Ilana directs bodymind energy as if she were conducting a symphony—and well she should. The founder of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method® she graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and enjoyed a career in music conducting until a debilitating back spasm re-orchestrated her life journey to become an influential teacher, healer and inspirational workshop leader for the past 35 years.


ALEXANDER LOWEN, MD was an American physician and psychotherapist. A student of Wilhelm Reich in the 1940s and early 1950s in New York, he developed bioenergetic analysis, a form of mind-body psychotherapy, with his then-colleague, John Pierrakos (February 8, 1921 – February 1, 2001). Lowen was the founder and former executive director of the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis in New York City.  Born in New York City, Lowen received a bachelor’s degree in science and business from City College of New York, an LL.B and a J.S.D from Brooklyn Law School. His interest in the link between the mind and the body developed during this time. He enrolled in a class on character analysis with Wilhelm Reich. After training to be a therapist himself, Lowen moved to Switzerland to attend the University of Geneva, which awarded him an M.D. in June 1951.He maintained a private practice in New Canaan, CT.


JOHN C. PIERRAKOS, MD. was a founding member of the body psychotherapy modality, Bioenergetics.  Pierrakos was fascinated by the research of Wilhelm Reich and his new philosophy of human biology, the related aspects of life energy and how these energies very existence seemed to form. Pierrakos traced here the questions: “What is this shaping energy?”, “What is essentially the heartbeat of life” and “how this manifests itself in every man?” These questions lead in close collaboration with Alexander Lowen to the development of body psychotherapy in Bioenergetics. After the death of his wife Eva in 1979, John turned his energy back on the training of therapists. The concepts of path work and bioenergetics he developed the Energetics of the Soul (core energetics). Energetics of the Soul is not a new technology and has no parallels with therapy and meditation, but describes and teaches a therapist a growing ability to capture the essence of themselves and others to recognize and work with. John Pierrakos traveled and worked until his death, just before his 80th birthday, in order to spread his knowledge.


Since its inception in 1998, the USABP has made it a priority to honor the people who have made somatic psychology, body psychotherapy, and body/mind practices what they are today: acknowledging our history is extremely important in our identity as an organization.

USABP lifetime achievement award

At each USABP conference a body psychotherapist has been recognized for their lifetime achievements specifically in the field of body psychotherapy by impacting the field, contributing to the body of knowledge, expanding the audience, mobilizing the community, and support of the field at large. 

Click here to view Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients 

Alice K. Ladas Research award 

For Outstanding Research Advancing the Profession of Body Psychotherapy and Outstanding Research Advancing the Profession of Body Psychotherapy by a Student the USABP offers two research awards at each conference. 

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