The Somatics Institute

The Somatics Institute was created to contribute to the developing field of Somatics.

The work you will find on these pages is the result of over 25 years of clinical research by somatic practitioner and educator, Matthew van der Giessen. The Institute continues the work of Somatics theorists such as Thomas Hanna, Don Hanlon Johnson and Elizabeth Benke.

Matthew has developed his understanding of Somatics principles in over 20,000 clinical sessions, numerous developmental workshops and classes with a wide range of somatic practitioners, which included the use of Somatics principles as the core instructional paradigm of a 2 year, 2500 hour Massage program.

The Institute focuses it's work in two areas:

1. Somatics In Everyday Life.

Carrying on the spirit of the work of Elsa Gindler who taught her students to use sensory-based practice to survive life in war-torn Berlin, the Institute develops Somatic Patterning practices that can be used to support embodied functionality in the reality of everyday life.

2. Somatics in Massage.

The Institute offers professional development courses designed to teach somatic practitioners to integrate Somatic Patterning Techniques into their practice.

Applied Somatics

The fundamental principles that define the somatics paradigm - sensory based learning and the organization of movement through patterns - enhance traditional approaches to embodied practice, such as yoga or massage, with a wellspring of knowledge that is drawn from a wide variety of approaches to experiential learning.

Personal and Professional Development

Whether you have a personal or professional interest in Applied Somatics we believe that an integrated practice begins by applying the principles of healing in one's own life. The educational focus of each training program is to learn through the body, drawing from personal experience to support one's work with others.

Matthew's Clinical Practice

My treatment paradigm starts with the assumption that your body is always moving towards balance, and that tensions are the signs of disruptions to that movement. As I start a session, I am listening for that movement to wholeness, then supporting it in problem solving it's way through the disruption.

In a somatic patterning approach to massage, I draw upon a wide range of modalities that work effectively with body patterns, from very light, energetic and fluid based approaches to those that use deep, direct pressure. I choose the contributions each approach as they best support your body’s reorganization and its movement towards greater functionality.

You can expect practical and focused assessment at the beginning of your treatment series as well as periodical “check-ins” throughout the treatments to make sure that you are reaching the goals that will allow you to function more fully in life.

The problem solving approach of Somatic Patterning, along with its focus on “working with” your body makes it effective with chronic pain and injury, as well with deep energetic healing.


To schedule a session: