Somatic Movement Dance Therapy (Book)

The Healing Art of Self-regulation and Co-regulation

Focussing on Somatic Movement Dance Therapy and the importance of self-regulation and co-regulation, chapters deal with self-regulating different tissues through movement, breath, sound and the imagination. Brings together detailed theoretical and experiential anatomy and its application in SMET practice. 227 b/w figs.

Category: Dance, Performing Arts


This book focuses on Somatic Movement Dance Therapy and the importance of self-regulation and co-regulation.  The chapters attend to self-regulating different tissues through movement, breath, sound and the imagination.

Throughout the book the author shares processes and practices that support participants to balance their living tissues, moving from sympathetic arousal into parasympathetic ease and release. The study of the autonomic nervous system and how to innervate the parasympathetic through breath awareness, heart-sensing and intero-ception is the central through-line in the book.

Uniquely, Williamson attends to the anatomical and physiological complexity underlying the apparent simplicity of somatic movement dance practice. How to sense-perceive and move with attuned awareness of specific body tissues, such the skeletal-muscular and craniosacral system invites the reader into a deep anatomical and physiological excavation of self-regulation. The interconnectivity of fascia, and the importance of cardio-ception, breath awareness and gravity lie at the heart of this book. Sensory-perceptual awareness of the heart is foregrounded as the most important ingredient in the efficacy of practice, as well as gravi-ception, soft-tissue-rolling and fascial unwinding.

Includes a collective foreword from Sarah Whatley, Daniel Deslauriers, Celeste Snowber and Karin Rugman 

This is a must-read practice-as-research book, for under- and postgraduate students, researchers and educators and especially important for practitioners who feel the weight and condescension of the mechanistic paradigm.

Amanda Williamson directs the Centre for Somatic Movement and Dance Therapy, where she trains students and has a private practice. She is also director for the Association of Somatic Movement Therapies, UK and the Republic of Ireland, and a visiting professor at Coventry University (C-DaRE). Amanda supervises Ph.D. students in the UK and USA and is considered one of the pioneers within the ISMETA paradigm. Her life is dedicated to emerging and bringing visibility to the field, training students and merging science with creativity. She is chief editor of the peer-reviewed journal Dance, Movement & Spiritualities.


Foreword: Transatlantic Reflections

Sarah Whatley, Daniel Deslauriers, Celeste Snowber and Karin Rugman

Introduction: The Seabed, Waves and Ripples in this Book 

  1. Autogenic Self-Regulatory Movement 
  2. Sympathetic Holding and Parasympathetic Release: Vagal

Tone and Social Engagement

  1. Fulcrums of Support and Soft Tissue Reorganization 
  2. Co-regulation, Cardio-ception and the Transpersonal Witness 
  3. Co-regulatory Touch and Somatic Unwinding
  4. Sense-Perceiving the Craniosacral System 
  5. Soft-Tissue-Rolling and Fascial Health 


Dr. Amanda Williamson is a master teacher and opens up a deeply pedagogical space for understanding on multiple levels, with the sensitivity of an open heart and a poetic eye.  This book will be a companion for me and for chiropractors, dancers, somatic therapists, doctors, philosophers, educators, body workers, musicians, therapists and all those who want to nurture the body, mind and soul will find this a magnificent resource.

Simon Fraser University, Canada Professor Celeste Snowber

An exceptional artist and compassionate teacher, Amanda Williamson brings a rigorously researched knowledge of the body to this book. The wisdom she has gained through her many years of practice infuses her writing: she shares her insights with generosity and sensitivity. It will be a primary source for all those interested in how to tune the body’s sensory-perceptual pathways to support a profoundly holistic approach to health and well-being.  

Chair in Dance and Director: Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) Professor Sarah Whatley

'Amanda Williamson’s Somatic Movement Dance Therapy: The Healing Art of Self-regulation and Co-regulation is an informative text that illuminates the author’s practice and key influences that inform it. She brings her years of experience to create her work—somatic movement dance therapy—based on improvisation, self-regulation, and co-regulation. This book will be of relevance for anyone interested in a therapeutic application of somatic movement and dance, as well as those interested in deepening their understanding of their body through movement, anatomy, physiology, and a non-western lens that moves away from the “[reduction of] mental health to mechanistic approaches” (186).

This text is a welcome addition to courses in somatics—a clear example of a therapeutic practice inviting discourse on the application of somatic practices with strong connections to research in science, psychology, and the mind-body-psyche relationship.'

Hetty King, Journal of Dance Education
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