Body of knowledge: how learning with and through the body, mind, and spirit impacts a somatic coach in training and practice

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Courtland, Victoria Forester
This dissertation was a qualitative, bounded case study of how graduates of the Strozzi Institute's somatic coaching training program perceive their education. The study included an exploratory survey and in-depth interviews. A literature review of embodied learning, adult and transformative learning theories, spirituality in whole person learning theory, and embodied consciousness provided the theoretical framework. Spradley's semantic relations model was utilized to analyze the data. The researcher drew from the philosophies of Merleau-Ponty and Husserl to make meaning of the results through a theoretical lens of embodied consciousness. Five key findings were derived from the research: 1) All of the participants indicated experiencing a full integration of the education they expected to obtain based on the objectives of the somatic coaching training program at the Strozzi Institute; 2) all of the participants believe that achieving mastery in the art of somatic coaching requires copious practice in developing an embodied presence; 3) all of the participants consider the Strozzi Institute's somatic coaching training program highly influential to their sense of personal spirituality; 4) all of the participants cite embodied learning, the cornerstone of the Strozzi Institute's somatic coaching training program curriculum, as an effective technique in facilitating and supporting lasting transformation; 5) only those participants (15 out of 18) who revealed having contemplated consciousness draw a connection between their experience with embodied learning and their understanding of embodied consciousness. To summarize, the researcher found that embodied learning may support lasting transformation. All of the participants interviewed believe that embodied learning 1) stays with them more readily than cognitive learning, 2) is effective in helping individuals to transcend conditioned tendencies in order to bring about the conditions they desire, and 3) facilitates a deeper understanding of Self as well as a connection to others and the greater environment. Ultimately, embodied learning leads to somatic awareness, which supports somatic opening and the development of practices that bring about lasting transformation. The researcher suggests further investigation is necessary to understand the impact of embodied learning on adult learning curricula that foster the attainment of personal goals and the expansion of human potential.