Allison Rapp

How to Build a Healthy Somatic Practice

Just as 4 basic food groups sustain our physical bodies, there are 4 basic things that sustain our Somatic Practices. We need to do these, as much as we need to develop or business skills, plan our marketing and think about our promotion!

Somatic practitioners can market without feeling salesyI’ve been doing a lot of work with my diet in the last several months… getting rid of foods that cause an immune response and make me feel like a blimp has made a huge difference!

As I feel better and better, I’ve been thinking a lot about how food keeps me healthy – and after several months of being conscious about it, I realized that I’m not looking for the ‘food groups’ we usually talk about. Instead, I’m looking for food that

  1. doesn’t make me feel old
  2. doesn’t make me crave more
  3. does make me feel satisfied and
  4. has enough mouth appeal to be happy.

Not the usual way to think about food, I know, but it got me wondering —  how should we be thinking about our somatic practices, so that they stay healthy and vibrant?

What Makes Your Somatic Practice Healthy?

If you want more clients, more energy and the feeling that your work is making a real difference in the world, try doing more of these. Adding generous portions of every one of these into your practice on a regular basis will make a big difference.Promote your somatic practice with relationships

1. Help people talk themselves into working with you

Your clients don’t want to be “sold” your modality, any more than you want to be sold any of the millions of things you could buy. We all hate the sales pitch, and that’s why it’s not effective anymore. If your idea of promotion is that you have to become a sleazy salesperson, your idea is out of date!

It took me many, long painful years of “explaining” my work — Feldenkrais® — and “convincing” people to come and just “try it” to realize that this is the holistic-practice-salesperson equivalent of selling a used car in the way none of us likes. Typically the people I did get to lie down on my table after a lengthy harangue did “just try it” and I never saw them again!

I really believe that almost everything we need to have a successful somatic practice is already somewhere in our repertoire, only we don’t recognize it because we haven’t ever viewed it that way before.

As an example… I think most of us would agree that one of our primary jobs, no matter what our modality, is to create the conditions in which people can learn something about themselves. Well, that’s what makes a real difference when we’re talking to prospective clients, too… we really can create the conditions in which people learn enough about themselves in relation to us, to talk themselves into working with us!

Once you understand how to do that, it doesn’t take long to bring those skills into your life so that you’re practicing them all the time. When you read about people who have been working with me… that’s what they learned to do! I know it can work for you, too!

Somatic practitioners relieve pain2. Give a simple first session that connects their dream with their power and your vision

How many times have you given a “convincer” first session? You know the one I mean – you pull out every stop, work longer than usual, do everything you can think of to make the person “get it” that working with you should be at the top of their priority list!

They get up, feel something different, tell you they’ll call you, walk out in a daze, you never hear from them again… and you sink into a downward spiral.

We’ve all been there and done that. We overload people with information, give them the equivalent of 4 or 5 session, and create conditions in which they can’t “keep” any of the changes. Then when they don’t call, we blame our practice skills.

Well, I’m here to tell you – it’s not that you have too little skill in your modality… but that people need help to make the connections that are important so that they can see the value of working with you.

That’s why you need to learn how to give a lesson that helps them feel how powerful they can be in getting what they want for themselves, and connect that with your ability to see what they need to work on to realize their dreams!

That kind of first session does wonders for everybody’s ego! Your clients feel hopeful because they’ve finally found someone who understands them better than they understand themselves. You feel great because the likelihood that they’ll sign for a series of sessions with you skyrockets!

cardfile3. Follow up

Experts estimate that people need to see your name or your service between 7 and 15 times before they even believe it exists!  In addition, people are bombarded by advertising messages from the minute they get up until they go to bed.

If they never hear from you the likelihood that they’ll completely forget about that talk they had with you in the express lane at the supermarket is pretty high.

You owe it to the people you’ve talked with as well as to yourself to have a good follow-up system in place so that you don’t lose track of them. For sure, you want to stick with them until they decide it’s time to give you a call!

Follow-up doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive — it just has to do the job. You can find free systems that work on your computer, or you can make one from index cards and a cardboard box.

Follow-up doesn’t have to be complicated, but to be effective, it does have to be consistent. Remember — the most important thing is showing up! If you say you’re going to call, you need to call! If you say you’re going to email, you need to sit down and do it!

Even if you are not currently sending out a newsletter, make it a goal to get a person’s email address so that you can easily stay in touch. Do it even if you think you won’t ever have the desire to write a newsletter – you never know what’s going to happen. Case in point – If you had asked me 5 years ago whether I’d ever be interested enough in business to teach practitioners how to build their practices, I would have laughed and walked away!

Community is essential to Somatic Practitioners4. Create Community

I had a call last night from a Feldenkrais colleague who lives nearby. She’s got a long series of classes running and has to go out of town, so she was calling to ask me if I would teach her ATM class for her a couple of weeks from now. I said “Yes!” even though it means getting up a lot earlier than I normally do.

There are 5 or 6 of us up here in our area, and we like each other. We help each other out. We have dinner together, socialize, call on each other when we need input, get excited, acknowledge each other, and raise each other up. We also have people to call when we need a sub for our classes!

Our students benefit because their classes don’t stop, and we can brainstorm about difficulties we may be having. We benefit because we don’t feel like we’re inventing every wheel by ourselves. We aren’t afraid that someone will “take our clients” because we all live in different social circles. Feeling the “juice” that comes from community makes everything better, in and out of our practices.

Our clients have no idea about all the things that go on in the background that make our work with them better. But I’ll bet if it stopped happening, they’d know something had shifted.

When you practice a somatic modality, you spend a lot of time in deep internal focus. That means you need the support of others if you want to do your work as well as you can. It’s important to recognize that we all have to create community if we want its benefits — that kind of cohesion doesn’t come to us as a birthright, no matter what we call our practices.

How do you rate yourself on these 4 essentials of of healthy somatic practice?

You’ll find yourself feeding your practice without thinking about it once these essential activities are a “normal” part of your life. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself:

  • Where are you doing well?
  • What opportunities are you missing?
  • Where do you need to spend some time changing things?
  • What will you work on first?

Small shifts over time make your practice stronger and healthier!


I blog to create a bridge between great marketers and great holistic practitioners. To make sure you get the most valuable information, subscribe to my newsletter list. You’ll get helpful info in your inbox about every two weeks.

  • GDPR Compliance requires a different format for email subscriptions... please check the box, then click the SUBMIT button below to be taken to a secure subscription form.