ISA Carstens Academy

Another Side of Somatology


Have you ever heard of somatology? Do you know what this word means without looking it up in a thesaurus, dictionary, or nowadays, on the internet? If your answer is the affirmative, are you possibly under the (mistaken) impression that “somatology” is a fancy word for “beauty therapy”?


Don’t feel embarrassed if you are unfamiliar with somatology and its meaning, but what is somatology really?


  • Somatology is a branch of anthropology. Anthropology has been defined as “the study of human societies and cultures, and their development” and/or “the study of human biological and physiological characteristics, and their evolution”.


  • The career-oriented somatology diploma courses, as taught at Isa Carstens Academy, are more focussed on the latter of the two anthropology definitions, as stated above.


  • A somatologist takes a threefold approach to holistic treatments and therapies that are designed to treat the human body in its entirety – mind, body, and spirit. This is clearly reflected in the curricula of Isa Carstens Academy’s somatology courses – anatomy, physiology, biotics, nutrition, chemistry of oils, cosmetic science, and both practical and theoretical healing, relaxing, calming, and soothing therapies.


  • Modern somatology is a complex and extensive scientific field of study with some aspects of its roots in ancient wisdom, cultures, and health or beauty practices.


Ancient Influencing Aspects


Because certain ancient peoples were meticulous keepers of records which have survived to be unearthed by archaeologists, modern mankind is able to trace a multitude of practices back to those times and cultures, most notably the ancient Asian peoples – Chinese, Indian, and Japanese, as well as the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. So much of human development and evolution owes their existence and knowledge to their wisdom.


Some 5 000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians were already believers in the therapeutic benefits of massages to treat, heal, and bring an ill, injured or stressed human body, mind, and spirit back into optimal balance.  


In modern western cultures, doctors are still required to take the Hippocratic oath, and its originator, the great Greek, Hippocrates, is often referred to as “the father of modern medicine”. He is said to have recommended rest, good nutrition, exercise, music, massage, and fresh air to aid healing and promote health – not all that different from a few aspects of modern holistic somatology principles.


Among the wealthy Roman classes, massage therapy with fragrant oils was a commonplace therapy to maintain wellbeing and a healthy skin. Roman soldiers were actively encouraged to make use of massage and hydrotherapy to maintain peak health and strength, whilst promoting the healing of battle wounds and injuries, as well as physical, mental, and emotional health – a holistic approach.


Becoming a 21st-Century Somatologist


Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Isa Carstens Academy has been at the forefront of somatology and training somatologists in South Africa, initially only in Stellenbosch and now also in Pretoria, where we’ve established a second campus, due to popular demand for top-quality somatology training.


It takes three years of full-time study to qualify as a somatologist at our institute, because as indicated initially, this challenging field is comprehensive and extensive, including various types of massage therapies, but by no means only limited to this.


Our website contains more information about our somatology studies and we welcome your personal enquiries too, particularly if you’re considering a most interesting career in somatology, locally or abroad.