“Hanna Somatic Education®” (sometimes called just “somatics”) is the trademarked name of a therapy devised in the 1970s by Thomas Hanna (1928-1990).
Hanna proposed that most people suffered from “sensory-motor amnesia”, a phenomenon by which the body's muscles "forget" how to move freely. This problem can be solved by taking the therapy he devised, which appears to involve "retraining" the body through gentle hands on body maniplulations.
There appears to be quite an industry of material related to this, and a number of Hanna Somatic Educators® who will take your money and give you treatment. The Association for Hanna Somatic Education writes of its “basis in neuroscience” and states: “It works for kids, it works for aging bodies, it works for everyone…”. But is this really a worthwhile therapy? At first sniff things do not seem too promising, as a number of warning signs are present:
- A medical system with a single founder
- A insistence on IPR surrounding the therapy
- Promotion through testimonials
And, most importantly, an apparent lack of any high-quality evidence of effectiveness: a review in a high-quality medical journal for example. So: does somatics offer anything worthwhile, or is this a therapy being promoted in the absence of evidence? Has anybody got any pointers?