“Integrating Somatic Psychotherapy with EMDR Therapy”

Part 1

Tracking Resiliency  •  Pacing the Work  •  Deepening Processing

Craig Penner, LMFT, EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Therapist

A four-day advanced training for EMDR trained clinicians

EMDR has proven to be a highly effective methodology for reprocessing trauma, working through unfinished material, building strengths and resources, and integrating new learning and states of being.  The EMDR protocols take advantage of our natural drive for completion.  From somatic approaches to psychotherapy, we see that bringing awareness to the body and functioning of the nervous system also taps into this inclination towards growth and completion.

There are nuanced aspects of our beliefs, postures, reactions, orienting responses, nervous systems, cognitive structures, and muscular and organ systems that are not accessible through words.  They are driven by the reptilian and limbic parts of the brain, and primitive functions of the nervous system, which do not have verbal language.  

Increased somatic awareness helps the therapist and client gain more access to these dynamics, and deepen the effectiveness of therapeutic processing. We can make effective interventions that directly impact habitual nervous system reactions.

Fee: $895 “early bird” until 1 month before the training, then $925. A healthy lunch each day is included in the price.

Use of heightened somatic focus in combination with use of EMDR serves many advantages:

1)  It helps the client to be more present.

2) It aids the therapist in the task of tracking that presence closely, in ways that go beyond verbal reports.

3) As levels of activation shift, both before and during EMDR processing, this tracking helps the therapist assess the client’s ongoing resiliency.

4) Similarly to using bilateral stimulation during resource installation, focusing on somatic experiences with judicial use of bilateral stimulation can aid in assessment of resiliency and heighten the opportunity to expand on this resiliency somatically

5) Close tracking and pacing gives the client and therapist access to engaging in nervous system processes that normally happen outside our conscious level of awareness.

6) Tracking resiliency allows the therapist to pace the work well, in order to help the client stay within the Window of Tolerance, so the work can be integrated.

7) This enables the therapist to more accurately assess the client’s ability to process through difficult material, in the face of strong emotional reactions.

8) When developing resources, adding a somatic focus helps clients to integrate the resources into their bodies and nervous systems, thus enhancing their access.

9) As clients’ resiliency builds, and their ability to notice and tolerate physical sensation increases, this strongly enhances their discernment and helps them to slow down assessments, such the difference between “danger” vs. “discomfort.”

10) With somatic interventions, clients are often able to hold a focus in a “stuck or looping” process, and work through it, without having to return to the target.

11) Tracking “sequences” of body and nervous system reactions helps to bring unconscious processes into awareness, making them easier to work with.

12) Attending to the small movements of orienting responses can allow early moments of activation to be exposed and reprocessed, and thus unraveling larger dysfunctional patterns.

13) Moments of dissociation, across the spectrum from the most subtle to the most severe, are more easily identified.

14) Skills can be built to identify and intervene in the dissociative process itself, which can enhance the ability to embody resilience and stay more present.

15) Developmental challenges arising from poor early attachment manifest in the body and nervous system, and can be recognized and addressed with a somatic focus.

16) The repairs in attachment work are often non-verbal, so working the dynamics through the body is advantageous.

17) Adding enriched somatic awareness to ego state work helps to track resiliency, ground the processing, and deepen the resolutions and connections

18) When “traumatic” reactions, both big and small, are thoroughly worked through the body and nervous system, we see a heightened generalization of positive effects of the reprocessing.

19) Using bilateral stimulation to “install” detailed somatic awareness of positive shifts that occur spontaneously in EMDR sessions furthers the integration of the growth.

20) As clients learn to track their own resiliency through their bodies, they gain a truly felt sense of trusting their own natural abilities to process and heal.


This 4-day training includes lectures and “prezi” presentation, discussion, demonstrations and/or videotape sessions, and practicum sessions with personalized feedback for participants.

This is designed as an advanced training for EMDR clinicians.  No prior training in somatic psychotherapy is required.

Lecture topics include:

  • Nervous system responses to trauma and poor attachment - episodic and developmental

  • A somatic understanding of the Cycle of Experience

  • The Window of Tolerance as a co-creative assessment tool with the client

  • Implications of the polyvagal theory

  • Inherent dilemma between drives for completion and drives for safety/protection

  • Psychophysiology of self-awareness

  • Uses of bilateral stimulation to enhance somatic awareness and resiliency

  • Resourcing with a somatic focus

  • Understanding the value and necessity of well-paced therapy

  • Value and practice of integrating greater somatic focus into EMDR

  • Common errors when the therapist is not well attuned to the client’s signs of resiliency

  • Assessing when explicit somatic focus is important, and when subtle tracking suffices

  • Somatic indicators of attachment difficulties, and implications for treatment

  • Specific skills for tracking somatically

  • Specific skills for assessing resiliency and signs of dissociation

  • Specific skills for helping clients to return to the Window of Tolerance from both hyper-aroused and hypo-aroused state


Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the Window of Tolerance

  • List 3 advantages of tracking clients activation somatically before and during EMDR processing

  • List 3 ways to assess resiliency somatically

  • Identify 2 somatic signs of subtle dissociation

  • Describe “bracing” and 2 examples of how it can look in a session

  • Demonstrate 2 interventions for working with moments when clients are hypo-aroused and 2 interventions for hyper-aroused

  • List 2 ways to enhance installation of resources somatically

  • Describe “process resources” and ways to increase their integration